North Carolina Highway Patrol Retirees' Association


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***Continued Part 3

On 18 January 1929, a bill was introduced by Senator Lloyd Lawrence, Hertford County,  that would establish a traffic safety act providing for a Highway Commission to oversee a State Police force.  Included in that bill was a driver's license and leaners permit provision.  The 160 man force would be paid for by a fee of $1.50 for the license, $5.00 to operate a commercial vehicle, $1.00 for registering a pleasure vehicle and $3.00 for a business vehicle.  The force of 160 men would be stationed one for every 40 miles of state highway, and a minimum of one per county.  Within the highway system this meant that no county would have more than 3 patrolmen.  The patrolmen would work under a superintendent, who would be chosen by a patrol commission.  The commission would consist of the Governor, Attorney General, Highway Commissioner, Commissioner of Revenue and the Secretary of State.  The patrolmen would be restricted to enforcing only highway and motor vehicle laws.  Driver's license and learners permits would by issued by the supervisor of the patrolmen.  The Supervisor of the Patrol would draw an annual salary of $5,000.00 and hold this office at the pleasure of the Commission.  There would be 4 assistants at a salary of $3,600.00 annually and the patrolmen would receive $1,800.00 per year.  All traveling expense would be covered.  

*** Continued Part 2

In the latter part of 1926, The Carolina Motor Club and the Kiwanas Club began pushing for a force of 175 state constabularies divided into four districts.  Each district would be commanded by a captain with an overall supervisor (state superintendent) in Raleigh..  The estimated cost of such a force was $750,000 annually.  Opposition to this large number of constabularies and the cost de-railed the legislation again. In January 1927, George H. Maurice of Eagle Springs began to advocate for a state constabulary.  He produced information on the Pennsylvania organization and cited that Pennsylvania had been organized based on the Canadian Mounted Police.  Again the supporters of a state force turned to Frank Page to renew efforts to create a state force.  In February 1928, the Farm Bureau joined with other organizations to introduce legislation favoring a State Police.  Efforts began to come together to introduce a legislative package of a state police, statewide requirements for a driver's license and a safety responsibility act.  This effort carries over to 1929.  1929 is an important year in that the General Assembly will be meeting to take on the issue of highway safety and methods and means to reduce the carnage that was occurring on North Carolina's highway system. Another important issue that was in favor of a state police is that many of the legislative opponents had been defeated in statewide elections.  The Carolina Motor Cub and the Kiwanas feel they have a good chance to pass some kind of statute to create a state police force.  The political pressure on the Highway Commission begins to build to find a method to ensure that the people that would constitute such a force are not political hacks or persons of ill repute. 

*** Continued Part 1

The argument continues through the first part of 1926 both pro and con for a state constabulary.  H. W. Sugden, formerly of Moore County, now writing for the Asheville newspaper, argues that police operations should be of a local and county responsibility.  He cites the European model as an example of a state taking over the functions of the city/county.  He cites where the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona established a constabulary only to later disband because of state political interference (later re-established).   Arthur W. Page, editor of World's Work and long time supporter of a state constabulary, says that the law enforcement responsibilities would be in addition to and support of local and county efforts.  He mentions the Texas Rangers as the first state law enforcement agency and mentions the states of Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, Maine, Rhode Island, Maryland, West Virginia, Michigan, Delaware and Colorado as an example of the state concept being of benefit to the local law enforcement.  Later in 1926, Mr. Sugden steps up his opposition with the idea of having the counties adopt a system of "Highway Patrolling" with local authority and control. (note:  first time use of the words Highway Patrol)  His contention is that this form of policing would keep the politics at the local level and not involve the state in local affairs.  Sugden continues that a state constabulary  would find it impossible to find the proper kind of men for officers.  He was fearful of an organization that becomes a fee-grabbing and political based one.  The motoring public would be subject to constant inconvenience and possible persecution as a result. 

*****How the North Carolina Highway Patrol came to be.


The following historical information is available thanks to Dorothy Sholar, daughter of retired First Sergeant Jim Sholar.  She is in the process of researching old newspaper articles to learn the history of the early years of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. I will attempt to pass on to you some of the more important and interesting features covered by the local newspapers.

The first mention for a state constabulary occurred in January 1921.  North Carolina was a leader in the production of illicit liquors and the Revenue Department wanted to be able to determine the amount being manufactured and collect fines and taxes.  A state constabulary was mention to reinforce the federal prohibition efforts (Volstead Act).   A bill was introduced with $20,000.00 in funding to pass a statute setting up such a force.  Because of local opposition to a state force the bill never made it out of committee.

In 1923, local newspapers began writing editorials concerning the rising number of roadway deaths.  They were reinforced in their position by local legislator from Moore, Stokes, Yadkin and Buncombe counties.  The Kiwanas Club, particularily in Moore county, became active in trying to establish a "Motorcycle Road Police".  They would have jurisdiction over all roads in the state.  Again as opposition mounted from local authorities this effort also failed.

In 1924, Senator E. H. Bellamy introduced a bill seeking the appointment of a commission to investigate the feasibility of establishing a state constabulary to prevent liquor traffic, hold-ups, murder, operation of a vehicle by intoxicated persons and speeding.  The Carolina Motor Club began offering national statistics to reinforce the need for a state force.  North Carolina began looking at New York and Pennsylvania state police as an example to follow.  The Pilot newspaper called for a "Rural State Police".  Guilford county began putting "Patrolmen" out on their county roads to enforce the law against "road hogs".

In 1925, the Carolina Motor Club and Kiwanas joined forces to force legislation to form a state constabulary.  The counties with major populations joined in.  One argument used was that the national traffic fatalities was now exceeding the losses of the First World War.  Some major businesses was in opposition to a state force calling such a force "strike breakers".  Illicit liquor (bootleggers) manufacturers with local political power again defeated any effort to establish a state constabulary.

In early 1926, a traffic crash in Franklinton that killed five people by an unlicensed and inebriated driver gave impetus to further study by the legislators to put forth a bill to form a state police.

(will continue with the history shortly)


The NCSHP Hall of History Committee (HOH) with the cooperation of the North Carolina Museum of History put together an exhibit on the history of the Highway Patrol.  The exhibit covers the time from 1929 to present day.  The exhibit will be on display from February thru August 2015.  The museum is located at 5 East Edenton Street across from the State Capital.  More on this exhibit will follow later. 

Make a decision, But always keep your mind open.

Stay flexible and consider the possibility that you're wrong.

There might be a better way.

Like all weak men, he laid exaggerated stress on not changing one's mind.

W. Somerset Maugham