Kansas Highway Patrol
In 1937 the Kansas Legislature created the Kansas Highway Patrol. This was in part a result of the ever increasing traffic problems brought about with the advent of the automobile. Yet the inception of this organization occured four years earlier in 1933.
Through an act of the legislature, a force of 10 inspectors was created to work under the director of highways and the State Highway Commission. The main function of this small force was the inspection of vehicles as required by the Kansas Corporation Commission and vehicle commissioner. The members of this fledging organization were also given statewide jurisdiction with the authority and power of peace and police officers.
The term "Highway Patrol" was first used in the statutes in 1935 to identify the vehicle inspectors. According to newspaper accounts of this early period, the patrol acquired a reputation in pursuing the fight against crime and particularly the crime of bank robbery. Though primarily restricted to enforce their duties within the state, they would on numerous occasions pursue fleeing criminals across state lines and well into surrounding states.
In 1937, although not being entirely removed from the fight against major crime and the pursuit of criminals, the reorganized patrol shifted its emphasis to traffic law enforcement and enforcement of the laws regarding vehicles and licenses. Their main objective, then as now, was to reduce accidents and the patrol attacked the problem with firm, courteous, and impartial enforcement and services.
In the 1960s, each trooper was assigned a patrol car to improve roadway coverage. The highway patrol began using aircraft in the early 1960s. A plane's crew would detect speeders with stopwatches and report them to ground units that would spring into action. Now, the aircraft pilots often assist with surveillance, searches, and transportation, too.
In 1976 the highway patrol gained authority over the Capitol Area Security Patrol, which now is the Capitol Police. In 1988, authority over the Motor Carrier Inspectors passed from the Department of Revenue to the Kansas Highway Patrol. The first female troopers joined the Patrol in 1981.
From a workforce of 10 inspectors in 1933, the organization has continued to expand in responsibilities and size.Today, the agency actively recruits women and men to be troopers and to fill other uniformed and civilian positions. Besides troopers, the agency employs capitol police officers and guards, motor carrier inspectors, communications specialists, vehicle identification number inspectors, and civilians in a variety of other support positions. The Kansas Highway Patrol is vested with the full power and authority of law enforcement officers anywhere in the state irrespective of county jurisdictions. The 2010 Kansas Highway Patrol Annual Report included the following: "Officers arrested 2,680 people for impaired driving and made 873 felony arrests. Troopers worked 224 fatal crashes on Kansas roadways. Personnel spent more than 950 hours inspecting child safety seats and assisted 112,336 motorists."
Kansas Highway Patrol History (KHP web site)
Entry: Kansas Highway Patrol
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: December 2004
Date Modified: April 2012
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.