Colorado State Patrol (CSP)

From 1919 to 1935, state law enforcement agencies often existed from year-to-year. When times were tough, agencies were abolished or disbanded, often due to the lack of appropriation of funds. Sometimes agencies would be revived, if only for a short duration, due to a change in the political scene or by pure necessity. Prohibition and the increasing popularity of the automobile played key roles in the creation of many agencies in Colorado.

Some people were opposed to a permanent state law enforcement agency prior to 1935, especially a department armed with weapons. The argument was an agency may become too powerful and a danger to society. State law enforcement agents were unfairly tainted in character by acts of violence carried out by individuals who were part of early Colorado military organizations.

As the automobile became part of the “American Way” during the 1920’s and 1930’s, the impact it had on society was enormous. The automobile provided the mobility for criminals to extend their territory of operations and to avoid arrest for years. Perhaps the largest negative impact the automobile had on society was the ever increasing number of traffic accidents resulting in injuries and death.

During the Session Laws of 1933, Senate Bill 483 was introduced to form a State Highway Courtesy Patrol as a division of the Colorado State Highway Department. This department was often referred to as the Colorado Motor Patrol. The duties of the Patrolmen were to:

“…promote safety, protect human life and preserve the highways of this state by the intelligent, courteous and strict enforcement, exclusively, of the laws and regulations of this state relating to highways and the traffic upon such highways, notwithstanding any provisions of the law charging any other department or agency of the state with the enforcement of such laws, and in order that there may be no duplication with respect to such enforcement…”

The law provided for the appointment of a supervisor, and a number of Patrolmen that was dependent on the time of the year. The department was authorized to employ ten Patrolmen from October 1 to May 31, and twenty Patrolmen from June 1 to September 30. The Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol was established by legislation in 1935. This was the beginning of the current Colorado State Patrol.

On September 23, 1935, under the leadership of the first Chief of the Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol Joseph J. Marsh, forty-four men selected from a pool of 7,500 applicants began six weeks of intensive training at Camp George West.  At that time, it was questionable if the members would be allowed to carry firearms.

From 1919 to 1935, state law enforcement agencies often existed from year-to-year. When times were tough, agencies were abolished or disbanded, often due to the lack of appropriation of funds. Sometimes agencies would be revived, if only for a short duration, due to a change in the political scene or by pure necessity. Prohibition and the increasing popularity of the automobile played key roles in the creation of many agencies in Colorado.

Some people were opposed to a permanent state law enforcement agency prior to 1935, especially a department armed with weapons. The argument was an agency may become too powerful and a danger to society. State law enforcement agents were unfairly tainted in character by acts of violence carried out by individuals who were part of early Colorado military organizations.

As the automobile became part of the “American Way” during the 1920’s and 1930’s, the impact it had on society was enormous. The automobile provided the mobility for criminals to extend their territory of operations and to avoid arrest for years. Perhaps the largest negative impact the automobile had on society was the ever increasing number of traffic accidents resulting in injuries and death.

During the Session Laws of 1933, Senate Bill 483 was introduced to form a State Highway Courtesy Patrol as a division of the Colorado State Highway Department. This department was often referred to as the Colorado Motor Patrol. The duties of the Patrolmen were to:

“…promote safety, protect human life and preserve the highways of this state by the intelligent, courteous and strict enforcement, exclusively, of the laws and regulations of this state relating to highways and the traffic upon such highways, notwithstanding any provisions of the law charging any other department or agency of the state with the enforcement of such laws, and in order that there may be no duplication with respect to such enforcement…”

The law provided for the appointment of a supervisor, and a number of Patrolmen that was dependent on the time of the year. The department was authorized to employ ten Patrolmen from October 1 to May 31, and twenty Patrolmen from June 1 to September 30. The Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol was established by legislation in 1935. This was the beginning of the current Colorado State Patrol.

On September 23, 1935, under the leadership of the first Chief of the Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol Joseph J. Marsh, forty-four men selected from a pool of 7,500 applicants began six weeks of intensive training at Camp George West.  At that time, it was questionable if the members would be allowed to carry firearms.

“There’s no courtesy in a shotgun,” Governor Johnson stated in refusing to buy side arms. “The law, under which the Patrol was created, says, in so many words, that the Patrolmen are not peace officers.”

Upon graduation from the training school on October 20, 1935, the forty-four men of the Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol appeared on the highways of the state for the first time. After a number of years with practically no supervision, a number of citizens were pretty lax with regard to securing license plates, paying taxes, observing safety rules, and complying with laws and regulations governing highway use.

When the Patrol first began its work on Colorado’s highways, erring motorists were warned, given a polite smile and waved on their way. After a breaking-in period to give the motorists of Colorado a chance to correct bad practices and unsafe methods, court citations were issued to those who repeatedly violated the state laws or refused to cooperate with the Patrol’s efforts to promote greater safety on the highways.

The Patrol Act also established stationary and movable inspection stations. Now that Patrolmen were on the road, it was time to get the “Port of Entry” opened. Originally these were called “Ports of Welcome.”

As the Ports became established, they were used as a training ground for Courtesy Patrol officers. When a new man came into service with the Courtesy Patrol, it was customary to assign him to one of the Ports to learn the duties of an officer. Tourists and travelers were encouraged to stop at the Ports when they came into Colorado. There they were greeted and welcomed by a Courtesy Patrol officer and given a windshield sticker with a safety tip on it. Public relations were one of the biggest services the Courtesy Patrol provided.

Every member of the Patrol emphasized safety – in the schools, in civic clubs and groups and to organizations and associations of all kinds; it was very gratifying to the people of Colorado to see a sharp decline in the number of accidents due to the Patrol’s diligence in promoting traffic safety.

September 23rd is regarded as the Colorado State Patrol’s “birthday,” since it was on that date in 1935 that the first class of recruits reported to the Academy at Camp George West.  In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Patrol, an open house was held at the academy on September 25th, 2010. The event gave the public an opportunity to come out and interact with members of the Patrol. The event included educational demonstrations by the K-9 unit, a police motorcycle unit, and a car show. Troopers were authorized to wear a commemorative anniversary badge during 2010 and a new car design was introduced. A predominantly silver vehicle arced was contrasted with black on the roof, hood, trunk and top portion of the side fenders and doors. This new design replaced the black and blue stripes which had been in use since 1997.

Pro Cycling returned to the Rocky Mountains with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This event carries on the state’s cycling legacy, which was most notably highlighted by the Coors Classic that ran from 1980 to 1988. The inaugural edition of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race was held August 22nd through 28th, 2011. The seven stage race of over 504 miles began with a short prologue time trial in Colorado Springs, winded its way through the Rocky Mountains at heights of up to 12,000 feet, and finished on the streets of downtown Denver.

The Patrol dedicated over 20 troopers to travel with and secure the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Many others to helped with road closures and traffic mitigation throughout the event in partnership with local law enforcement agencies and the Department of Transportation.  Included in the participating team rosters were the top three 2011 Tour de France riders Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Fränk Schleck. The inaugural race was won by USA rider Levi Leipheimer who completed the event with a final time of 20 hours, 0 minutes, 24 seconds.

In 2011, “Occupy” protests began to receive widespread media attention. By October 9th, 2011 “Occupy” protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 951 cities across 82 countries, and over 600 communities in the United States.  This included a large gathering in Lincoln Park, just outside the Colorado Capitol in Denver. This gathering in Lincoln Park had about 70 tents at its height. Protesters were in violation of state law which prohibits camping in the park. On October 14th, 2011 the Patrol was ordered to enforce the law and remove the protesters from Lincoln Park.  The Patrol secured the park, and removed the tenants, tents and trash. Troopers arrested 21 people for unlawful conduct on public land. The Patrol’s response to these protests was generally perceived as one the least conflictive police actions related to the “Occupy” protests across the United States.

The first Port of Entry stations were opened under the authority of the Patrol on May 22nd, 1936. The Port of Entry was transferred to the Department of Revenue in 1955, but was returned to the Patrol in 2012 with the passage of House Bill 12-1019 sponsored by 17 representatives and nine senators. Since the Port of Entry has returned to the Patrol, a new academy training program for Port of Entry cadets has been introduced and uniforms have been changed.  The Port officers now proudly display the patch of the Colorado State Patrol with a Port of Entry rocker atop the patch. The Port of Entry officers are an integral unit of the Patrol.

Originally, troopers began their careers with the Port of Entry as these became the proving ground for those individuals who aspired to be troopers to learn the business. This legacy was exemplified by Colonel Scott Hernandez who began his career with the Port of Entry before joining the Patrol. He served as Interim Chief of the Colorado State Patrol beginning on February 22nd, 2013 before being named Chief on July 12th, 2013.

In the summer of 2013, there were several major wildfires in Colorado. During June and July, record high temperatures and dry conditions fueled the fires across the state. By July 24th, 2013, 570 structures had been destroyed and two lives were lost. Troopers were among the first responders to these disasters performing evacuation orders and traffic mitigation.  National disasters continued in Colorado less than two months later, as a slow-moving cold front stalled over Colorado, clashing with warm humid monsoonal air from the south. This resulted in heavy rain and catastrophic flooding along Colorado’s Front Range from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins. Troopers again were the some of the first on scene of these horrendous floods and assisted with initial evacuations.

The flood waters spread across almost 200 miles of Colorado, affecting 17 counties. On September 12th, 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper declared a disaster emergency in 14 counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Boulder, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo, Washington and Weld. Several roads were permanently destroyed or damaged. The Patrol provided security and traffic control throughout the rebuilding process.

The Patrol began an educational marketing program in 2014 that coincides with continued enforcement efforts to reduce DUI/DUID crashes and increase safety on Colorado’s highways.  This campaign, “Our Family Protecting Yours Since 1935” was used in educational materials throughout the state such as billboards, print materials, promotional items and radio advertising in the form of sponsorship of traffic and weather reports which are aired during targeted enforcement weeks across the State.  The first two annual enforcement weekends were also conducted in 2014, and they utilized some of the saturation enforcement concepts from “Target Zero.”  The new campaign titled “Zero Tolerance, Zero Fatalities” or “Zero, Zero” focused on the prevention and enforcement of impaired and distracted driving.

The members of the Patrol work hard to serve and protect the citizens of Colorado every day. In 2014, an annual awards ceremony was initiated.  This ceremony acknowledged individual members and their efforts. Contributing through a peer nomination process, members were recognized for demonstrating outstanding work performance, initiative, leadership, character, integrity, and actions or performance that significantly exceeds expectations exemplified by the Patrol’s Core Values of Honor, Duty, and Respect. The 2014 ceremony was the first time members were awarded the titles of: “Trooper of the Year,” “Port of Entry Officer of the Year,” “Communication Officer of the Year” and “Civilian of the Year.”

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) Accreditation Program improves the delivery of public safety services by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives, establishing and administering an accreditation process, and is a mark of professional excellence. The Patrol successfully received its Initial Accreditation from CALEA on March 21st, 2015.

September 23rd, 2015, marked the 80th Anniversary of the Patrol. Retired and current members of all ranks, along with family, friends and supporters gathered on the West steps of the State Capitol. The Governor, John Hickenlooper, attended at the celebration and thanked the Patrol for their service and dedication.

“For 80 years the Colorado State Patrol has served the residents and visitors of Colorado. We are proud of our history and excited for what the future holds, not only for us but for the State of Colorado as a whole.”

Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol

The Pennsylvania State Police Core Values

  • HONOR: We are committed to upholding the Honor of the Force by providing honest and faithful police service to all who may be in danger or distress.
  • SERVICE: We recognize that customer service is our highest priority. We are committed to providing caring, competent, and professional police service.
  • INTEGRITY:We believe Integrity is character in action. We are morally and ethically aware, resolute, and above reproach at all times regardless of our duty status.
  • RESPECT:We must respect ourselves, our peers, those we serve, and the sanctity of the law and the institution that is the Pennsylvania State Police.
  • TRUST:We must solemnly value the trust that has been placed in us by those we are sworn to serve, and we are committed to holding ourselves to a higher standard of accountability to continually earn their respect each and every day.
  • COURAGE:We recognize that “courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” We stand firm in the face of danger, and will confront all threats to the safety and security of our communities with intelligence and vigor.
  • DUTY:We do not swerve from the path of our obligations, nor do we depart from standards of professional conduct. We obey the law and enforce it without any consideration of class, color, creed, or condition.

For more information about the PSP, visit: www.psp.pa.gov

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Message from Colonel Scott Hernandez, Chief

Dear Colorado State Patrol visitor,

Thank you very much for your interest in the Colorado State Patrol! Our website has been designed to better serve the needs of our citizens, guests of Colorado, and our internal and external partners in their quest for answers. Within this site is our Strategic Plan, mission and vision statements, agency history, organizational structure, employment information, highway safety programs, educational services such as Child Passenger Safety and Alive at 25, filing a compliment, filing a complaint, filing an accident report, setting a Vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N.) verification appointment, or simply finding the nearest troop office.

I welcome and encourage your comments about the Colorado State Patrol, and thank you for your continued support for the past 79 years.

Sincerely,

Colonel Scott G. Hernandez
Chief, Colorado State Patrol

Our Family Protecting Yours Since 1935

Colorado State Patrol

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