Our History

From the beginning

“It shall be their primary duty to promote safety, protect human life and preserve the highways of Colorado by the intelligent, courteous, and strict enforcement of the laws and regulation of this state relating to highways.”
– 1935 Patrol Act

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.

-Our family protecting yours since 1935

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Colorado State Patrol Association,
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We are a 501 (c) 5 non profit public service organization focusing on providing employee uniformed and civilian members of the Colorado State Patrol, Port of Entry and the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

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To be a strong Association with a committed, elected leadership team that supports, informs, and advocates for our members the potential challenges to their compensation, benefits, and the retirement security that they have earned.

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