History of the MO State Highway Patrol

The 56th Missouri General Assembly created the Missouri State Highway Patrol in 1931. Governor Henry S. Caulfield signed Senate Bill 36 into law on April 24, 1931. This new Highway Patrol's authorized strength was set at 125 uniformed officers. However, due to limited appropriations, the Patrol began with 55 officers and a handful of civilians. By the 2000s the Missouri State Highway Patrol has grown to include more than 1,400 uniformed civilians and support staff, and 1,100 uniformed members. The Patrol operated as an independent agency under the control of the executive branch until the Omnibus State Reorganization Act of 1974. At that time, the Patrol became a division of the Department of Public Safety.

Since its inception in 1931, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has evolved from simply a highway patrolling force to a full-service, accredited law enforcement agency. The Patrol’s primary responsibility remains enforcing traffic laws and promoting safety on Missouri's approximately 33,000 miles of state-maintained highways. In addition, the Missouri’s governors and legislatures have tasked the Patrol with additional law enforcement duties. Some of those additional duties are:

  • motor vehicle inspection
  • commercial vehicle enforcement
  • driver's license examinations
  • criminal investigations
  • criminal laboratory analysis and research
  • public education
  • gaming enforcement
  • law enforcement training

In 1992, the Missouri State Highway Patrol became the 10th State Police/Highway Patrol to receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This accreditation demonstrates the Patrol's commitment to professionalism and acceptance of high standards of excellence in law enforcement. This process also provides an ongoing evaluation of the Patrol's policies and procedures, so that it may continue to grow and improve in the future.

The Patrol has published a book entitled "Roll Call" which is included as part of the entire history publication “A Journey Through Patrol History”. The stories in “Roll Call” provide much greater detail about the men who have been killed in the line of duty and the families they left behind. "Roll Call" starts on page 139 of the full history book.