Florida Highway Patrol

Florida Highway Patrol
Abbreviation FHP

Patch of the Florida Highway Patrol

Seal of the Florida Highway Patrol

Badge of a Florida Highway Patrol major

Flag of the State of Florida
Motto Courtesy, Service, Protection
Agency overview
Formed 1939
Preceding agency State Road Department
Employees 2,280[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Florida, USA
Map of Florida Highway Patrol's jurisdiction.
Size 65,795 square miles (170,410 km2)
Population 19,317,568 (2012 est.)[2]
Legal jurisdiction State of Florida
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Highways, roads, and-or traffic.
Operational structure
Headquarters 2900 Apalachee Parkway Tallahassee, Florida 32399
State Troopers 1,792[3]
Civilians 501 (as of 2007)
Agency executives
  • Colonel Gene Spaulding, Director
  • Lt. Colonel Michael Thomas
Parent agency Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Troops 12
Regional Comm Centers 7
Programme Training to become a Florida State Trooper is 28 weeks of paramilitary style curriculum.
FHP website
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Division of Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is a division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the law enforcement agency charged with ensuring the safety of the highways and roads of the state.


The Department of Public Safety was created in 1939 and later in 1970 was reorganized and renamed the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. On November 21, 1930, at the request of the Chairman of the State Road Department (Florida Attorney General Cary D. Landis) to Governor Doyle E. Carlton, ruled it shall be the duty of the State Road Department to maintain the state roads and enforce the laws enacted to preserve its physical structure. The road department hired 12 weight inspectors who were placed under the supervision of the division engineers because of the ruling. This was the beginning of state law enforcement in Florida.

In January 1934, a Division of Traffic Enforcement was created as a result of an Attorney General's opinion indicating the division could enforce the motor vehicles laws. As a result, E. A. Shurman was appointed Traffic Inspector. The division was given a distinctive military style uniform, forest green in color.

In July 1936, Chairman C. B. Treadway appointed retired Army Major H. Neil Kirkman, Chief of the State Road Department's Traffic Division due to his experience in the Armed Forces associated with traffic and his background in floppy. Army Major Kirkman was the engineer supervising the construction of the Palatka Memorial Bridge over the St. Johns River.

When Fred P. Cone was elected Governor in 1937, as an economic move, he abolished the traffic enforcement division of the State Road Department.

The American Legion and the Jaycees strongly supported the idea of establishing a highway patrol to serve the needs of the motoring public. Richard (Dick) W. Ervin was the attorney for the State Road Department and his Master was Arthur B. Hale, Governor Cone's Chairman of the State Road Department.

In 1939, the Florida Legislature created the State Department of Public Safety with two divisions; the Florida Highway Patrol and the Division of State Motor Vehicle Drivers Licenses, under the control of Governor Fred P. Cone and Chairman of the State Road Department, Arthur B. Hale.

The legislation authorized 60 officers to patrol the public highways and to enforce all State laws in effect, or hereinafter enacted, regulating and governing traffic, travel and public safety upon the public highways, and providing penalties for violations thereof, including the operation, regulation and licensing of motor vehicles and drivers thereof, and other vehicles thereon, with full police power to bear arms and to arrest persons violating said laws. The beginning salary was $1,500 per year for a highway patrolmen and each year thereafter the salary would be increased $120 a year until a maximum of $2,000 a year was reached.

Funds for the operation of the Department were to come from the sale of driver licenses.

Director of the Department of Public Safety

In September 1939, W. F. Reid was appointed Director of the Department of Public Safety by Governor Fred Cone and the Chairman of the State Road Department.

On October 1, 1939, H. Neil Kirkman was appointed as the first Commander of the Florida Highway Patrol. Colonel Kirkman was originally from Greensboro, North Carolina but considered Palatka, Florida his home. He entered the United States Army as a Private in 1917 and was discharged as a First Lieutenant. He was a charter member of the American Legion and served as State Commander of the American Legion during 1922–1923. He worked in the construction business for many years, particularly in building bridges such as the Memorial Bridge at Palatka and the Clearwater Causeway Bridge. Colonel Kirkman laid the groundwork for what has become the motto of the Florida Highway Patrol: "Service, Courtesy, Protection".

The first uniform

In 1939, the uniform color for the Florida Highway Patrol was forest green. The forest green whipcord blouse had orange piping around the epaulets and shirt pockets with silver buttons carrying the State seal. There was an orange and blue shoulder patch on the left shoulder, with silver collar ornaments FHP on the left lapel and a wheel with wings attached to each side on the right lapel signifying traffic. There was a badge, chain and whistle. The shirt was forest green with orange piping around the epaulets and shirt pockets. Trousers were forest green with 1½" black stripe. Shoes were black. In addition, each trooper was issued two pair of riding britches with 1½" black stripe and a pair of black boots for winter dress.

The collar ornament design is a wing and wheel similar to the insignia that appears on the Ohio State Highway Patrol cars today. The original insignias had a broken spoke in the wheel which is the origin of the term "Broken Spoke Club".

A black Sam Browne belt, 3" wide, with handcuff case, cartridge clip, and a swivel or swing holster carrying a .38 caliber Colt revolver on the right side, with a shoulder strap to support the revolver and other equipment, completed the body uniform.

The first beige Stetson, or "Campaign", hats purchased for the Patrol in 1939, were $12.50 each. The hat, was the Stetson 3X Beaver, with a 1½" orange hat band and a thin, 32" long, tan leather head strap to hold the hat in place. Before the turn of the century the Stetson 3X Beaver, as its name implies, was made from genuine beaver pelt; however, it is not known what type of fur, if any, the original FHP Stetsons were made from.

The uniform of the FHP and its ornaments originated with the military. The Patrol's Stetson hat design had first appeared during the Civil War, was beige in color, rounded on top instead of creased down the middle, and was worn by the officers of the Union forces. Confederate forces also wore a hat of similar design but gray in color.

First training school

In November, 1939, the first training school was held in Bradenton, Florida, with 40 recruits. The school was directed by Captain George Mingle of the Ohio Highway Patrol, a personal friend of Colonel Kirkman. Thirty-two recruits graduated and became troopers. Twenty troopers were issued specially equipped Ford motor vehicles and twelve were assigned Model 84 Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

On December 12, 1939, "Fourteen Special Autos" arrived in Bradenton for patrol use. The black and cream, two-door Ford Coaches were equipped with sirens and bulletproof windshields.

At this time the Patrol had no radio communication. Troopers would make regular stops at service stations or grocery stores along their routes to call in for assignments, reports of wrecks, and messages.

By the end of 1940, the first full year of operation, the Florida Highway Patrol had 59 officers. The State was divided into three divisions: Northern, Central and Southern. The commanding officer of each division was a Lieutenant. Since there were no district offices, all the records were kept in Tallahassee and each trooper was responsible for mailing his daily reports to Tallahassee.

The first year of activity included: 154,829 hours of patrol time, 1,000 accidents investigated, 29,860 hours at the station, 127 motorists killed, 1,938,564 miles (3,119,816 km) patrolled, 1,132 persons injured and 4,836 motorists arrested.

The 1941 legislature increased the authorized strength of the Patrol to 190 officers and the pay increased to $150 per month. In the fall, the State Road Department supplied the Division Commanders an office in their district; the Northern District was Lake City, the Central District was Bartow and the Southern District was Ft. Lauderdale.

In 1948, Florida received national recognition for its driver license program from the National Safety Council.

Patrol uniform

During Director Gilliam's administration, World War II was in progress and textile mills were using all green wool for military uniforms. Mr. Gilliam selected the army officers' purple material for the uniform trousers and britches. In 1943, the Patrol's uniform blouse was olive drab whipcord with silver buttons bearing the state seal, a patch on the left shoulder (the orange emblem with the word "Florida" spelled out), silver collar ornament "F.H.P." on the left lapel and the "Winged Wheel" ornament on the right, signifying traffic. A badge, chain, whistle, army pink trousers with a 1-inch (25 mm) black stripe from waist to hem, black riding britches, and one pair of black plain-toed riding boots completed the uniform. Instructions were to wear riding britches and boots on each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the forest green uniforms were phased out. Also, part of the uniform was the graphite blue Stetson hat, Sam Browne 3" gun belt, plus handcuff and cartridge cases.

Post war

In the spring of 1951, the Patrol's use of a single shoulder patch on the right shoulder was adopted by every highway patrol and state police organization in the United States. The patch appeared in a magazine published by the Florida Peace Officers Association and soon all of Florida's law enforcement agencies adopted the idea.

In late 1952, the Patrol realigned the divisions. Boundaries were changed, and divisions became Troops and were designated as A, B, C, D, E, and Headquarters Troop.

In the beginning, while on probation, all members were classified as Patrolmen. When they completed their probation, they were classified as Patrol Officers. That changed in 1952, when the new classification for members on the Patrol was Trooper.

Teletype network and into the modern era

An FHP B4C Camaro.

In 2001, the FHP was heavily criticized by a St. Petersburg Times article ("The Lost Patrol") that depicted the agency as understaffed and poorly managed. The report has led to changes at the agency.[4] The FHP continuously is recruiting new troopers to fill its ranks due to a lot of troopers retiring, and has even posted Recruiting videos online to attract new recruits. The Florida Highway Patrol does extensive background checks for prospective employees to include polygraph, and psychological testing.New Troopers receive extensive training in accident investigations, defensive tactics,and DUI detection. FHP specializes in traffic crash investigations, and traffic homicide investigation. Although they can and will assist other law enforcement agencies with criminal investigations, FHP is primarily traffic and are experts in Crash Investigations, and traffic enforcement. FHP is often called to assist smaller agencies with traffic crashes that result in death or serious injury, due to their having resources where smaller agencies do not.

The Office of Motor Carrier Compliance officially transitioned from the Florida Department of Transportation to the Florida Highway Patrol division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles on July 1, 2011.[5]


  1. Colonel David H. Brierton 2011-2014
  2. Gene Spaulding 2014- currentand then he flew away on a magic cloud.


The Florida Highway Patrol enforces motor vehicle and commercial vehicle laws and is charged with investigating motor vehicle accidents that occur on the state's Interstate highways and on all roadways within unincorporated areas of the state.[6]

In practice, the FHP's responsibility to investigate accidents in unincorporated areas of the state varies based on the policies and procedures of each county's Sheriff's office; most county sheriff's offices will investigate certain crashes in lieu of the Patrol, with some (like Broward), investigating the majority of crashes within its unincorporated area.[7] Other sheriff's offices, such as Orange, Escambia and those in rural counties leave unincorporated area crash investigations entirely to the FHP.[7]


The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles directs the FHP.

The director of the Florida Highway Patrol holds the rank of colonel. The organization has six bureaus: The Patrol has one Deputy Director who holds the rank of Lt. Colonel who works under the direction of the Colonel, who directly oversees the Six Bureaus within the patrol which includes, Patrol operations (North/South), Special Operations, Special services/Support Services, Commercial Motor Vehicle, Bureau of Investigation, Technology and Professional Compliance.

The Bureau of Investigations is commanded by a major, while the other four bureaus are each commanded by a Chiefs. The Nine field troops are commanded by personnel with the rank of major, which are divided by regions geographically located across the state. A tenth troop handles the Florida Turnpike operations.

Troops are subdivided into 30 district headquarters, each commanded by a captain. Florida Highway Patrol officers are called "State Troopers".

The FHP and its troopers are state law enforcement officers, and as such are considered police officers. They have the power to enforce Florida state law and make arrests.

The function of the FHP is to the safety of State Roads, U.S. Highways, and Interstate Highways in Florida. Florida has an investigative department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, analogous to the FBI.

In addition to the FHP, Florida's highways were patrolled by the Florida Department of Transportation's Office of Motor Carrier Compliance (MCCO), a state law enforcement agency responsible for commercial vehicle laws in the state. As of July 1, 2011, the Office of Motor Carrier Compliance officially transitioned from the Florida Department of Transportation to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Division of the Florida Highway Patrol as a bureau. The consolidation is a result of Senate Bill 2160, passed by lawmakers during the 2011 Legislative Session, and places the commercial vehicle licensing, registrations, fuel permits, and enforcement all under the purview of DHSMV.

The FHP was created in 1939 with 60 uniformed officers.

There have been 41 state troopers killed in the line of duty since its founding: 19 died by gunshot, 17 in automobile crashes, five in aircraft crashes, and one in an explosion. The authorized strength of the FHP is 2360: 1813 sworn, 547 non-sworn.

The FHP Reserve consists of 110 volunteer members who have the authority to bear arms and make arrests but receive no compensation.

The FHP Auxiliary consists of 500 volunteer members who are armed and wear similar but distinctive uniforms. They assist troopers throughout the state. They have the authority to bear arms and the power to arrest violators while under the direct supervision of, or are in radio or telephone contact with a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper. They receive no compensation for their duties assisting the patrol.

Ranks and insignia

Rank Insignia
Lieutenant Colonel
Corporal/Traffic Homicide Investigator
Trooper/Auxiliary Trooper



Details: There are 54 sworn and 11 non-sworn personnel assigned to the Bureau of Investigations. These officers conduct investigations on auto theft, driver license theft and fraud, title fraud, odometer fraud, and other criminal activities statewide. During fiscal year 2000/2001, 153 stolen vehicles, valued at $2,414,664, were recovered; 13 vehicles valued at $94,500 were seized; 289 warrants were issued; and 174 arrests for criminal activity were made. The Bureau also conducted 63 professional compliance cases, 954 criminal Investigations, 26 division cases and 19 internal review cases for other divisions within the department.
Details: Thirteen full-time background investigators are assigned throughout the state assisted by FHP personnel in their local troop as needed. This section is responsible for all pre-employment testing and screening of all applicants for the positions of state trooper and community service officer. This screening consists of pre-employment written testing, physical abilities testing, polygraph, eye examination, physical examination, psychological screening, background investigation and drug screening. This section is also charged with the responsibility of handling requests for assistance from other law enforcement agencies throughout the country in conducting background investigations on applicants with their agency.
Details: The Office of Inspections, established in 1995, is responsible to the Director and represents his office while conducting staff inspections throughout the Patrol. GAP is responsible for the Division's Policy development and management, is the Accreditation Manager for the Florida (CFA) and National (CALEA) Accreditation programs and manages the Division's financial grant acquisitions. Additionally, a total of seventeen Inspectors-in-Place (IIP) representing all ten Troops and GHQ, formally trained, assist the permanent Inspectors on a need basis during the staff inspection of field and GHQ units.

Formerly Florida Department of Transportation-Office of Motor Carrier Compliance (MCCO)-Commercial Vehicle Enforcement:

Otherwise known as Florida’s commercial vehicle enforcement agency, headed by its director, Colonel David Dees, MCCO mainly comprises sworn law enforcement officers and civilian weight inspectors. Similar to state troopers, MCCO officers are certified (e.g. police academy trained), armed and have full statewide law enforcement authority including powers of arrest. Primary duties include but are not limited to:

The Office of Motor Carrier Compliance officially transitioned from the Florida Department of Transportation to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Division of the Florida Highway Patrol on July 1, 2011. The consolidation is a result of Senate Bill 2160, passed by lawmakers during the 2011 Legislative Session, and places the commercial vehicle licensing, registrations, fuel permits, and enforcement all under the purview of DHSMV.

Motor Carrier Compliance officers will be “troopers”. Motor Carrier Compliance troopers’ uniforms will include the FHP patch beginning July 1. MCC troopers also will wear a Florida Highway Patrol badge. They will continue to perform commercial vehicle safety inspections and to weigh commercial vehicles with portable scales at various locations around the state, in addition to FDOT weigh stations on Florida’s highways. Motor Carrier Compliance vehicles will replace the FDOT seal with the FHP seal on door panels. The vehicles will bear the FHP license plates, too. Through attrition, motorists will eventually see more FHP black and tan vehicles patrolling Florida roadways.

Special units

A state trooper supervising the cleanup of a traffic accident in Troop C.

Usually after two years on the Patrol, troopers are eligible to join a specialized unit. Trooper training is tough, but new troopers can work anywhere in the State of Florida after recruit training .

Aggressive driving enforcement

In response to the growing problem of "Aggressive Driving", the Florida Highway Patrol launched a selective traffic enforcement campaign in South Florida called "Eye on 95". The program was piloted in Miami-Dade (Miami metro) and Broward (Ft. Lauderdale) counties using two confiscated Jeep Grand Cherokees equipped with grant-funded in-car video equipment, radar, laser, and other speed measuring devices. The Jeeps are designated as observation vehicles, and work with second vehicles that are standard issue marked or unmarked Florida Highway Patrol cars. These vehicles are designated as the enforcement vehicles, and are utilized to overtake the violator upon receiving information from the observation vehicle. The enforcement vehicle conducts the traffic stop of the violator and takes enforcement action for the team. As a result of this successful pilot project, similar aggressive driving enforcement programs have been developed in all other areas of the state.


As of 2000, the FHP's demographics were:[9]



FHP vehicle paint scheme

The paint scheme of black and tan (cream) has no correlation with the road color or the grass color. The traditional paint scheme is unique to the FHP and has been the color of the cars as long as the FHP has utilized patrol vehicles. The paint adds $657 to the purchase of each vehicle. Prior to sale, the patrol defaces the cars so that they cannot be misconstrued as official law enforcement vehicles. The defaced, two-tone paint deflates each car's resale value by approximately $400.[10]

It is a misdemeanor crime in Florida to operate a car in the colors of the FHP.[11]


The FHP has adopted the Glock 37 Gen4 (full size) and Glock 39 (subcompact), both chambered .45GAP, with Speer Gold Dot 200 gr. hollow point ammunition.[12]

Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary

The Florida Highway Patrol is authorized by Florida law to have an Auxiliary. The Auxiliary personnel are volunteers who dedicate a minimum number of hours on a part-time, but regularly recurring basis to assist the Florida Highway Patrol in its legislated duties. The maximum number of auxiliary personnel is limited by law. Auxiliary personnel receive no wages, health or insurance benefits, and may not work as auxiliary troopers for compensation (e.g. off duty employment).[13][14]

Just as with any Florida law enforcement officer, auxiliary personnel who wish to be considered for a traditional Auxiliary trooper position must meet minimum statutory qualification criteria.[15][16] Additionally, auxiliary members must successfully meet other requirements including submitting a State of Florida application and fingerprints, undergoing a background investigation, passing mandated Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and agency law enforcement training requirements. Once certified, Auxiliary troopers are Florida certified auxiliary law enforcement officers.[17] State law provides that while serving under the supervision and direction of a full-time trooper, auxiliary troopers have the power to bear arms and make arrests.[13] The supervision and direction of a full-time trooper may come in the form being present at the scene or in radio contact with the auxiliary trooper.[14][18]

The Auxiliary is overseen by a high ranking full-time command staff member of the Florida Highway Patrol who acts as the auxiliary coordinator. Throughout the state, each auxiliary unit is supervised by a full-time member who comes under the purview of the troop commander within each troop.

Auxiliary duties include: patrolling the streets and highways of the state, participating in vehicle equipment and license checkpoints, operating the Florida Highway Patrol Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Unit, and participating in specialized details relevant to traffic related matter.[14][19]

See also


  1. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/csllea04.pdf 2004 Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
  2. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12000.html 2012 U. S. Census Bureau Population Estimate, Florida
  3. FDLE (2014). "Florida Criminal Justice Agency Profile 2014". www.fdle.state.fl.us. Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  4. State: The Lost Patrol
  5. "Motor Carrier Compliance officers become 'troopers' July 1" (PDF) (Press release). Florida Highway Patrol. June 29, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
  6. Jurisdiction of the Florida Highway Patrol
  7. 1 2 Jurisdiction of the Florida Highway Patrol, pages 8 and 28.
  8. Rank Structure
  9. Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers
  10. Vaughn, Linda; Estes, Anna (1999). Report 98-87 Justification Review: Florida Highway Patrol (PDF). The Florida Monitor: Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA): An Office of the Florida Legislature. p. 16.
  11. § 321.02, Fla. Stat. (2010)
  12. "Inside the Fast-Paced Florida Highway Patrol". Tactical Life Gun Magazine: Gun News and Gun Reviews. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  13. 1 2 § 321.24, Fla. Stat. (2007) Members of an auxiliary to Florida Highway Patrol
  14. 1 2 3 "FHP Policy - Auxiliary 18.02" (PDF). www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/Manuals. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  15. § 943.13, Fla. Stat. (2013) Officers’ minimum qualifications for employment or appointment.
  16. Fla. Admin. Code R. 11B-35.003 (2014) Basic recruit training program requirements for auxiliary law enforcement training.
  17. "FDLE Curriculum Training Programs". Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  18. § 943.10(8), Fla. Stat. (2007) Definitions for s 943.085-943.255: Auxiliary law enforcement officer means in part - "...has authority to arrest and perform law enforcement functions."
  19. "FHP Policy - Drivers License and Vehicle Inspection Checkpoints 17.07" (PDF). www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/Manuals. Florida Highway Patrol. 17 December 2015. p. 4. Retrieved 10 January 2016.

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