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The History of Motorcycle Law Enforcement

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South Dakota Highway Patrol


The History of the South Dakota Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit

In 1935, the Governor of South Dakota, Tom Berry, recognized the need for an organization to enforce traffic laws and provide assistance to the motoring public. Governor Berry appointed ten men known as the "Courtesy Patrol" to enforce all the laws in South Dakota and inform the public about the states emerging traffic regulations. Each man was given a car, affectionately called a "milk wagon," a tow chain, a first aid kit and a gallon of gasoline. The new officers were assigned to patrol 2,000 miles of hard surfaced roads and 4,000 miles of gravel highways. The patrol cars were not equipped with radios for communication, and each officer made occasional telephone calls at filling stations to see if they were needed for an investigation or emergency.

In 1937, the Courtesy Patrol was disbanded, and the new Motor Patrol was founded. The number of Patrolmen increased from eight to 40, and two-way radios were added to each patrol car. The Patrol was involved in many life-saving efforts during the record blizzard of 1949.

On Friday April 17, 2015 unveiled three new motorcycles that will be used statewide primarily for DUI enforcement. The six troopers who have been trained to ride the motorcycles and their duty stations are: Aaron Spangenberg and John Peary, Pierre; Derek Mann and Chansey Ford, Rapid City; and, Shannon Orth and Chris Hogan, Sioux Falls. The motorcycles became operational Friday.

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2015 South Dakota Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit (Photo credit Bob Grandpre)

2015 South Dakota Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit (Photo credit Bob Grandpre)

2015 South Dakota Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit (Photo credit Bob Grandpre)

2015 South Dakota Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit (Photo credit Bob Grandpre)


Information and Photos provided by South Dakota Highway Patrol