Police Motor Units
The History of Motorcycle Law Enforcement

 "Virtual Museum"





1998 HD Electra-Glide Toy

Virginia State Police

The History of the Virginia State Police Shoulder Patch

The Virginia State Police uniform shoulder patch was designed by a member of the Department in 1949, adopted in 1950 and used continuously since that time. It is worn on the sleeves of all uniform shirts, blouses and winter jackets.

The patch design consists of the obverse of the Great Seal of Virginia. The Latin phrase, Sic Semper Tyrannis, means Thus Always to Tyrants and has been the motto of Virginia since 1776, twelve years prior to the Commonwealth’s ratification as the tenth State in 1788. This seal also is included in the design of the State flag, adopted in 1930. The central figure of the Great Seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus dressed as an Amazon.

The Amazons were a mythical race of warrior women who fought against men and who inhabited Southern Europe. She personifies enduring patience in trials, constancy under stress, resolution, unfailing exertion, and dedication to the Commonwealth of Virginia. By attitude, Virtus is at peace and intends to stay at peace. Although warfare may be over, she is prepared to stamp out any tyrant or form of tyranny.

The spear is held point down to indicate she has temporarily finished using it. Her helmet is pushed back to clear the face. In her left hand is a sheathed parazonium, a short Greek sword that is considered more a badge of honor than a weapon. With head proudly erect and face upright, Virtus rests her left foot on the prostrate male figure who personifies tyranny. The crown which has fallen from his head originally symbolized freedom from Britain and the oppression of the Crown, the sundered chains freedom from Britain’s restrictions, and the scourge under the figure’s left hand freedom from Britain’s punitive

Virginia State Patrol PIO Patch Information

The History of the Virginia State Patrol Motor Unit

"The Mechanical Mule"

A narrative history of the Virginia Department of State Police was originally written by Lieutenant E. E. Schneider, now retired, and included in both the Department's 50th Anniversary (1982) and 60th Anniversary (1992) Commemorative Books. Recently, Department employees have updated the Department's history and provided a brief outline, by year, below.


A motorcycle patrol force was formed within the Division under the direction of J. H. Hayes. The "mechanical mule," as it was irreverently named by its courageous operators, became a part of the State Police mobile patrol for the next 30 years.



White motorcycles and white roadsters were issued to inspectors and the citizens became acquainted with what was referred to as "The Great White Fleet." Chevrolet agreed to sell the Division new models for $250 each. Sirens were mounted on the right running boards and both doors bore the Seal of Virginia. On the rear of the car was identification of "Division of Motor Vehicles" and the admonition "Drive Carefully - Save Lives."


November 3, 1938, an executive order from Majors Bishop and Nicholas officially adopted the title of "State Trooper." The purpose of this was to identify specific members of the Division of Motor Vehicles performing in the roles of inspector and motorcycle deputy. The title of examiner remained in effect and identified those members responsible for issuing operator's and chauffeur's licenses. Troopers were issued a badge with a number that corresponded with the license numbers of their vehicles. Virginia State Police replaced "Commonwealth of Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles" on these plates.


Twelve motorcycles were purchased for special occasions and not for daily highway patrol. At large functions which attracted scores of tourists, traffic handling and control by automobiles was difficult but readily expedited by troopers on motorcycles.


Motorcycles were phased out.


The Department reinstituted the use of motorcycles to help control traffic and assist motorists in the highly congested areas of Northern Virginia and Tidewater. The motorcycles were Harley-Davidson model FXRPs and were painted the Department's traditional blue and gray.


Motorcycles were added to the Richmond area.





Virginia State Police at Rodeo 2007, Photo provided by the Mid-Atlantic Motorcycle Riding Committee, Inc.


Photos and Information provided by the Public Relations Office of Virginia State Police