We'd like to take this opportunity to honor the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.
The patrol was formed with state legislation signed by then-Gov. Henry S. Caulfield on April 24, 1931. It started with a superintendent, six captains, 49 troopers and a few civilians.
By its own calculations, it grew to include more than 1,400 civilians and support staff and 1,100 uniformed members.
It operated independently under the control of the executive branch until the Omnibus State Reorganization Act of 1974, when the patrol became a division of the Department of Public Safety.
As its ranks have grown, so has its mission. At the start, it was simply a highway patrolling force. Now, it has evolved into a full-service, accredited law enforcement agency, according to its website.
Its primary responsibility remains enforcing traffic laws and promoting safety on Missouri's approximately 33,000 miles of state-maintained highways. But it has added many other duties, including motor vehicle inspection, commercial vehicle enforcement, driver's license examinations, criminal investigations, criminal laboratory analysis and research, public education, gaming enforcement and law enforcement training.
The patrol sold a 90th-anniversary keepsake yearbook that includes photos of current and retired patrol employees and display title/rank and dates of service. It also honors those members who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting the citizens of Missouri and features photos from all troop areas and divisions.
"Numerous natural disasters and serious incidents, increasing social unrest, and most recently, the coronavirus pandemic inspire us to continue being Missouri's beacon of integrity, professionalism and compassion," Col. Eric T. Olson, the patrol's superintendent, said in a recent letter. "Throughout our history, the Patrol has endured crises, emergencies and challenges that consistently revealed the true quality of our people and our mission."
We thank the patrol for its professionalism and service, and we owe a special debt of gratitude for those patrol members who have died in the line of duty while protecting us.