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Police Motor Units
The History of Motorcycle Law Enforcement

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Montana Highway Patrol

The History of Montana Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit

The Highway Patrol started in March of 1935 with the passing of Senate Bill 26 by the Montana Legislature. The bill was signed by Governor Cooney in May. This bill created the Patrol and started with the Highway Patrol Commission coming out of the Highway Department.  The Commission picked the Chief and set up the budget and other formalities. With this they ordered six Harley Davidson Motorcycles for approximately $450.00. One was ordered with a side car for an additional $500.00. All of them were order in white and had the state seal on the gas tank.


The first Patrolman assigned the “Flying Squad” were:

Patrolman A.W. McLain MHP130

Patrolman Donald F. Mercer MHP131

Patrolman W.W.Beckwith MHP132

Patrolman Ralph Everett MHP133

Patrolman Hugh K. Potter MHP134


All of the Patrolman were stationed in Helena and went to various events around the state 12 months out of the year. This was one of the issues that arose in meetings, that they had to ride in the winter. The Patrolman assigned cars argued that in the summer they had it better by not having to sit in a hot car.  There is no evidence to support this, but through stories passed down this was the demise of the “Flying Squad”. It ended in 1941 with one red Harley Davidson assigned to Patrolman Smokey Lyons.

1935 Flying Squad

1935 Flying Squad

Information and Photos provided by Montana Highway Patrol