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Records of the Kansas Highway Patrol

Creator: Kansas Highway Patrol

Date: 1934 - [ongoing]

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Government record

Call Number: Unavailable

Unit ID: 214735

Abstract: This collection contains the records of the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP). The records document the KHP's activities in ensuring the safety of motor vehicle travelers on Kansas highways. The documents in this collection include correspondence, reports, photographs, complaints, subject files, memoranda, and grant files. The majority of the records series relate to a variety of reports regarding traffic violations, accident reconstructions, drug and alcohol arrests, and automobile thefts. Photograph negatives are included in accident reports. The collection also contains a few series on complaints against highway patrol officers regarding officer conduct and appealing speeding tickets or other citations. Also included in this record group are administrative series such as personnel records, subject files, and time and activity reports providing statistical information about time spent on duty by officers. The subject files discuss topics of interest to the KHP maintained for reference purposes, and the time and activity reports have been microfilmed. Smaller series such as grant files contain grants for the purchase of new equipment and training programs.

Space Required/Quantity: [Not stated]

Title (Main title): Records of the Kansas Highway Patrol

Administrative History

Administrative History: In 1933, the Kansas Legislature, Governor Alfred Landon, and Highway Department Attorney Wint Smith acted to halt the rampant bank robberies and crime sprees of the 1920s and 1930s. They created a force of ten motor vehicle inspectors, forerunners of Kansas troopers.

The Legislature officially organized the Kansas Highway Patrol in 1937. A superintendent, assistant superintendent, and 45 troopers were hired to reduce crashes by enforcing traffic, vehicle, and license laws. Kansas City, Kansas Police Department veteran Jack B. Jenkins was the first superintendent. In 1937, the fleet included four motorcycles and 31 automobiles. Since then, the fleet has grown to include more cars, motorcycles, trucks, a mobile command bus for major events and disasters, and aircraft.

The governor appointed the superintendent, and the superintendent appointed the rest of the employees. All appointees had to pass a physical exam and be U.S. citizens, at least 24 years old, of good health and moral character, and without a criminal record. The 1941 Kansas Civil Service Law affected appointment procedures, but as late as 1945, half the appointees had to belong to the governor's political party, and the other half had to come from the party that placed second in the gubernatorial race.

Before 1945, troopers did not have police radios, so they often listened to WIBW Radio in Topeka for information, and they frequently checked in with sheriffs' and police departments while on patrol. Padded dashes, seat belts, automatic transmission, cameras, and red beacons were not standard equipment in patrol units until the 1950s. Patrol units did not have moving radar until 1972 or video cameras until the 1990s.

In the 1950s, the Patrol began to police the turnpike for the Kansas Turnpike Authority, and Protective Services began with one trooper providing the governor's ground transportation. The recruit school moved from the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory in Hutchinson to the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Increasingly, troopers patrolled alone. Before, they always rode in pairs.

In the 1960s, each trooper was assigned a patrol car to improve roadway coverage, and access to the Law Enforcement Teletype System and National Crime Information Center improved the Patrol's communications. The first promotional examinations were given, and the deactivated Schilling Air Force Base in Salina became the Patrol's Training Center. Also, the Motor Vehicle Department began examining license applicants, releasing trooper-examiners for other duties. The 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. Aircraft pilots now often assist with surveillance, searches, and transportation.

In 1976, the Patrol gained authority over the Capitol Area Security Patrol, now called the Capitol Police or Troop K. In 1988, authority over the Motor Carrier Inspectors passed from the Department of Revenue to the Patrol. Then in 1994, the Training Academy, or Troop J, moved to the former Marymount College campus in Salina.

The first female troopers joined the Patrol in 1981. 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.

[Kansas Highway Patrol. "History of the KHP." http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/about/history.html (accessed November 18, 2008.)]

Related Records or Collections

Related materials: Records of the Kansas Department of Transportation

Index Terms


    Capitol Police (Topeka, Kan.) -- History
    Kansas Highway Patrol -- History
    Kansas Highway Patrol -- Records and corresondence
    Highway safety
    Automobile theft investigation -- Kansas
    Drunk driving -- Investigation -- Kansas
    Police patrol -- Kansas
    Traffic accident investigation -- Kansas
    Traffic safety -- Kansas

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Kansas State Agencies. Kansas Highway Patrol.