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History of the SC Highway Patrol

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The South Carolina Highway Patrol was formed in 1930 to enforce newly enacted laws governing the use of motor vehicles in this state. This new agency began with 69 men, including a Captain, an Assistant Captain, 11 License Inspectors, 7 Lieutenants and 49 Patrolmen.

Each Trooper was issued a badge, gun, uniform, motorcycle and summons book. They were given no formal training and only a few verbal instructions. They began patrolling the 5,991 miles of SC highways at that time.

In 1932, patrolmen received formal training for the first time. The first patrol class was held at Fort Jackson Army Base. The training was three months long.

Still growing, in 1934 the patrol was appointed a traffic engineer and a fingerprint expert. Patrol staff now equaled 79, of which 60 were patrolmen.

The Patrol continued to grow and expand its duties at a rapid rate until 1941 and World War II. The war effort called upon many patrolmen, and gas rationing brought most motor vehicle traffic to a halt. Activity of the Patrol was curtailed during the next four years as emphasis was placed on national defense.

At the end of World War II, the state was faced with phenomenal vehicle registration growth and highway travel. This growth brought forth the need for increased traffic enforcement. In 1947 patrol cars were equipped with two-way radios. The Patrol Training School was streamlined to eight weeks.

In the beginning, the Patrol was a part of the Motor Vehicle Division under the SC Highway Department. As the Patrol grew in size and responsibility, it was deemed that the Patrol could function more efficiently as a separate division. In 1953 the Highway Patrol became its own division.

In 1972 the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy opened. Since that time, all recruits are trained there. Today the Patrol School is 20 weeks long. 1977 saw the first eight women apply to the patrol and attend the Academy. Seven graduated and were assigned to Patrol duty throughout the state.

The Legislature in 1978 passed a law for a uniform and patrol car paint scheme to be used exclusively and solely by the Patrol.

In 1993 the Department of Public Safety was created under government restructuring. The Highway Patrol was placed under DPS to promote efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Today we are still a growing agency committed to the safety of all South Carolinians and those who travel our highways. We now have over 900 Troopers patrolling over 64,750 miles of highway. We are very proud of our history and the accomplishments we have made along the way. We use the latest technology and equipment to carry out our duties. The ACE (Aggressive Criminal Enforcement) Team is charged with the duties of drug interdiction and felony apprehension and arrest. The MAIT (Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team) Team uses the latest equipment in accident reconstruction and investigation. They specialize in forensics and vehicle dynamics as well as highway engineering and design to assist in even the most complicated collisions. We use motorcycles and high performance vehicles, such as Camaros in everyday traffic enforcement.

Our accomplishments have not come without sacrifice. In our 80 year history, we have lost 49 Troopers in our commitment to the citizens of this State and country. We respectfully admire these Troopers for their service and dedication. Please visit out "In Memory Of..." page for a tribute to these fallen Troopers.

 

 

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