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. Department employees have provided a brief outline below.
1900s to 1920s
Governor Claude A. Swanson signed legislation requiring automobiles to be licensed and registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. Over 4,500 motor vehicles were registered at a fee of $2 each between 1906 and 1910. The first motor vehicle to be registered in Virginia, a 1906 Oldsmobile, was owned by a Staunton resident and licensed June 12, 1906.
The Secretary of Commonwealth was also responsible for the regulatory sections of the new law dealing with traffic movement. His staff was minimal and the burden was left to sheriffs, constables and other law enforcement personnel. No adequate state-administered staff existed to enforce the laws pertaining to motor vehicles traveling the often unnavigable dirt roads of the State during the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Counties were required to raise money by whatever means to build and maintain roads because there was no state support. There were no hard surfaced roads anywhere in the state.
Speed limit was 15 mph statewide.
The General Assembly passed acts to improve highways with money accrued from motor vehicle registration fees. New fees went into effect and ranged from $2 to $20, depending on the horsepower of the vehicle.
Statewide speed limit was raised to 20 mph.
Six thousand five hundred seventy-three (6,573) registered motor vehicles enjoyed an unprecedented 7 miles of hard surface roads throughout the state.
Mr. Louis C. Blankenship served as the first “inspector” without police powers while Mr. Edwin W. Bosher had limited police power through the authority of the Highway Department. Mr. James H. Hayes, Clerk for the Secretary of Commonwealth, assisted these first two inspectors.
By the end of World War I, 75,000 motor vehicles were registered in the Commonwealth and hard surfaced roads had increased to 306 miles throughout the state.
With increased vehicle registration, increasing highway mileage and a growing economy, the need arose for more state control over motor vehicles.
The Virginia State Police was conceived with the passing of The Automobile Acts which stated that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and his assistants are vested with the powers of sheriff for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this law. The Secretary of the Commonwealth continued to be responsible for this regulation and it was his staff of Mr. Blankenship and Mr. Hayes who assisted Mr. Bosher in enforcement of the new code. The burden of enforcement still remained with sheriffs and constables in counties and police officers in the cities and towns.
The Motor Vehicle Act was passed, creating the first title laws for Virginia motor vehicle owners.
Theft of a motor vehicle became a felony.
Three thousand miles of highway now existed and required policing in order to pursue violators of the Motor Vehicle Act.
Limited enforcement continued.
The General Assembly acknowledged the need for paid professional personnel to enforce the Automobile Acts. Eight inspector positions were created. These eight men comprised the Commonwealth’s Enforcement Division at an annual salary of $1,500. Additional pay was possible if an inspector located and arrested any individual using the wrong-numbered license plate. The court would award the inspector five dollars for each conviction.
The roster of members included Colonel B. O. James, Director; J. H. Hayes, Supervisor; and inspectors J. A. Bingham, D. C. Floyer, Edwin Gibson, H. G. Hawthorne, C.F. Joyner, Jr., Tyler Lockart, H. E. Shull and Jack Williams.
Governor E. Lee Trinkle ordered all inspectors into uniform. The cost was $40 and was paid for by the inspectors. The uniforms varied considerably.
The General Assembly realized the need for more inspectors and six new inspector positions were created. R. A. Long, H. B. Crenshaw, Ed Hawkins, Harry Parks, Ben Coleman, and Shackelford were selected to fill these newly created positions.
Uniforms conformed to that of a “light brown whipcord with high collar, a stiff straw hat and leggings completed the ensemble.” Holsters were not yet part of the uniform and the gun was placed inside the leggings whenever carried on the person.
On March 24, 1923 the Division of Motor Vehicles was created and became a separate department of state government. The Secretary of Commonwealth transferred the enforcement powers of its office, which it had possessed since 1906, to the newly created DMV. With this, the position of Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles was created with a tenure of office set for four years. Mr. J. H. Hayes, Jr. served as the first Commissioner.
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.
There were 3,600 miles of paved highway in the Commonwealth patrolled by State Police inspectors.
Accident statistical research began with the goal of making highways safer.
Uniform hand signals were adopted.
The statewide speed limit was raised to 35 mph.
The General Assembly furthered the cause for highway safety by requiring motor vehicles to be equipped with modern safety devices. Specific equipment included brakes, horns, mirrors, windshields, exhaust systems and lighting. Legislators enacted a law that would revoke registration of a motor vehicle if the safety devices proved to be unsafe.
The Division of Motor Vehicles’ enforcement division continued to grow with a newly authorized strength of 31 members — 15 inspectors and 16 motor vehicle deputies.
Scores of applications poured in and those persons successfully receiving an appointment to the new force received neither a physical nor a medical examination. They received very little indoctrination or training as law enforcement officers. Practical experience was heavily relied upon.
The Division of Motor Vehicles was authorized to hire 20 additional inspectors at an annual salary of $1,200. Five hundred applications were received and the Virginia Highway Patrol grew to a total of 51. These new employees were the first to receive indoctrination and training by Director Hayes. This first training was held in a committee room in the old hall of the House of Delegates. Motor vehicle operation was clearly not on the agenda as it is stated that one new inspector was issued a 1928 Ford which he could not drive because it had a “shifter” and he had never driven an automobile with a shift. It was insisted that he take the vehicle to his appointed station at West Point. This was completed with a chauffeur and upon arrival, the inspector was taught how to drive by the local chief of police.
The uniform was now Oxford gray, with dark blue stripe and trimmings. Riding boots and a visor cap set off the blouse and breeches.
In addition to highway patrol and the enforcement of motor vehicle statutes, the inspectors began pursuing traffickers of illegal whiskey. Hundreds of violators were apprehended during prohibition days. Many pursuits ensued over paved roads, dirt roads and paths through woods.
Members of the Division of Motor Vehicles recommended that legislation be enacted requiring operators of motor vehicles to undergo an examination to determine their ability to drive. If the test was successfully completed a license to drive was to be issued, and this legislation marked the first issuance of drivers’ licenses in Virginia.
There were now 394,873 registered motor vehicles in the Commonwealth and vehicles continued to have problems with the mechanical and electrical safety devices. Enforcement of the recent legislation concerning brake, lights and windshields was a task beyond the capabilities of the 51 state enforcement officers; therefore, the General Assembly passed new legislation requiring motor vehicles to be submitted for inspection of their mechanical equipment. This placed the inspection under state supervision.
The appointment of T. McCall Frazier as Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles began a new era in the regulation of traffic and registration of motor vehicles. With the addition of 22 new positions, the division grew to an authorized strength of 75 members.
New hiring requirements were instituted with the hiring of these new members. Inspectors had to be no older than 35 years old but careful consideration would be given to World War I veterans.
Reorganization of the Division of Motor Vehicles began in May of 1930 and members were instructed on new lines of duty. Each man in the division had to undergo a physical and mental examination.
A new plan evolved to create companies and platoons to better establish the Division of Motor Vehicles throughout the state as an administratively controlled highway patrol unit. Three companies were created: Lieutenant A. D. Manuel was to command 3 sergeants and 11 men headquartered in Appalachia, Lieutenant J. A. Bingham was to command 3 sergeants and 19 men headquartered in Appomattox and Lieutenant H. B. Nicholas commanded 7 sergeants and 23 men headquartered in Richmond. The superintendent of the enforcement effort was T. K. Sexton who has the distinction of becoming the first superintendent of the Enforcement Division, Division of Motor Vehicles, later to become the Virginia State Police.
The Division of Motor Vehicles moved to a central headquarters in a building located at 12th and Main Streets in downtown Richmond.
The Division of Motor Vehicles adopted new uniform colors of blue shirts and gray pants for inspectors. With Virginia serving as the gateway between the north and south, the colors were selected for the intent of cooperation and reconciliation for the nation. The new dress uniforms also included white helmets and white gloves.
The Yorktown Sesquicentennial was celebrated in October of 1931. State Police personnel from the 13 original States assisted the Virginia inspectors and deputy inspectors with traffic control and security. Comrades in arms, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France and General John J. Pershing of the United States, in the company of President Herbert C. Hoover lent great significance to the celebration of the allied victory ending the American Revolution in 1781. State Police worked 16-hour days and were housed in tents throughout the celebration, experiencing the life of military troops in the field.
Inspectors became empowered to enforce criminal codes, as well as motor vehicle codes. In doing so, legislators created a state enforcement group with the power of arrest anywhere in Virginia. A mobile enforcement agency was now ready for duty wherever civil strife or emergency conditions might exist that would warrant police personnel to ensure peace and security. It was at this time that inspectors began to be known as “troopers.”
Division of Motor Vehicles branch offices were established in Norfolk and Roanoke to sell license plates and issue operators’ licenses.
White motorcycles and white roadsters were issued to inspectors and the public 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.”
A great deal of concern was directed to the mechanical condition of buses transporting children to school throughout Virginia. As a result, a national program relating to school bus safety was instituted and administered by individual states. Virginia troopers pioneered the effort by instructing school bus drivers on safe driving practices and grading their vehicles as excellent, passing or condemned. This venture in safety dramatically reduced injuries and deaths to school children as a result of unsafe drivers and faulty equipment.
At Virginia Beach, the first extended training school was held for the inspectors of the Division of Motor Vehicles. Sixty candidates vied for 25 police positions. The aspirants were to attend a five-week school at the National Guard Training Camp. Motor vehicle and criminal laws were taught along with investigation methods, preparation of evidence and court procedure, motorcycle and motor car operation, traffic control and first aid. Additionally, firearm instruction, use of tear gas and mob psychology were also part of the curriculum.
In-service training also began at this time. Half of the 75 inspectors would attend the first two weeks of the training school while the remaining inspectors would attend weeks three and four. The fifth week of training would include the new applicants and all of the inspectors present for the instruction.
The Division of Motor Vehicles began to administer the statewide inspection of motor vehicles as performed by “adjusting” stations. During 1933, there were 400,000 motor vehicles registered in Virginia, which had to be submitted for inspection of their mechanical parts and glass each six months.
In May of 1933, two training schools, each four weeks long, were planned for the National Guard Camp at Virginia Beach. Two weeks of this period would be for in-service “refresher” courses requiring the presence of inspectors. However, the school was shortened to three weeks because inspectors had to be dispatched to Fort Hunt and the Arlington area in June to deal with the safety of the public and the traffic flow into and out of Washington, D.C. where World War I veterans were protesting inadequate bonuses in hopes of receiving economic assistance during the days of the Great Depression.
A coal strike developed in August of 1933 in Wise, Lee and Russell Counties. Ten thousand miners were idle over opposition to pay and the National Recovery Act. Troopers were assigned in large numbers to cope with potentially dangerous crowds of irate workmen.
The age of communication began for police in Virginia when Alexandria and Danville installed radios in patrol vehicles. The State Police established a system with the aid of Alexandria and Danville’s new technology whereby inspectors could be contacted through a local police station, sheriff’s office, justice of the peace and gasoline stations.
New Division of Motor Vehicle Director John Q. Rhodes appointed H.B. Nicholas to the position of superintendent of the enforcement branch. The offices were located at 12th and Main Streets in Richmond.
Uniform dress was adopted which consisted of blue coat, gray trousers with a black stripe and optional headgear. A white helmet was to be worn on special occasions while the contemporary visor, blue cap would be donned for routine enforcement duties.
Successful applicants met minimum standards of being 21 to 35 years of age, no less that 5′ 8″ tall and weighing no more that 154 pounds. Inspectors were regularly paid $85 each month for a six-day week consisting of 12 to 14 work hours each day.
Forty-eight of the division’s patrol cars were equipped with radio receivers with plans to use Richmond as the base station.
In June, inspectors were again called upon to provide security for a strike-bound fabric manufacturing plant in Hopewell. Enforcement officers were present to permit orderly movement of traffic in the vicinity of the plant and permit supervisory workers clear passage in and out of the idle manufacturing plant. Numerous arrests were made during initial stages of the impasse.
The state was divided into four geographic sections to ensure adequate coverage by inspectors. Supervision from Norfolk, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Roanoke was inaugurated with a lieutenant in charge of each station. These assignments changed the structure of supervision, which had existed during 1933, at Richmond, Charlottesville, Christiansburg and Appomattox.
On September 10, 1934, the Richmond City Police Department radio station WPHP went on the air and assisted the Division of Motor Vehicles by transmitting radio traffic to inspectors if their vehicles were equipped with radio receivers.
By now a reserve list of potential inspectors was now a custom. One hundred employees and 50 candidates attended a two-week training camp at Virginia Beach. Candidates for the Division of Motor Vehicles deposited $20 at the beginning of the school. This sum was to defray the cost of anything the recruit might break or lose. Upon completion of the courses, $15 was returned, the difference being deducted for the physical exam administered by a doctor of medicine.
One hundred black and white Ford V-8s were delivered to the Division of Motor Vehicles in December of 1935. Equipment was to include safety glass, leather upholstery, twin taillights, two license plate brackets, horns and a siren.
On July 1, 1936, the Division of Motor Vehicles was authorized to increase its personnel to 150 members. Inspectors would now receive $1,500 annually and new recruits would receive pay at the annual rate of $1,200 a year. When this bill was signed on March 13, 1936, the division had a complement of 100 authorized positions with 18 men on the reserve list. The next day, there were 1,200 applications for the remaining 32 positions.
The following May, the recruit school began and was held at the Bloody Angle Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in Spotsylvania County. One hundred twenty-four aspirants trained to fill 50 positions. In addition to courses of instruction given in 1932, the curriculum included directing and control of traffic, fingerprinting and photographing, methods of obtaining a confession and its admissibility in court, and police communication. Graduation exercises were held on June 6, 1936.
The Virginia State Police Pistol Team formed and for the next 20 years, members of the team achieved high individual honors for themselves and collectively, honors of outstanding sportsmanship and marksmanship for the Department.
Training had become an annual event and the next training school was conducted in June and was returned to Virginia Beach.
Increased motor vehicle registration prompted legislators to discuss the State Police as a separate branch of government. No action would be taken until 1942.
Governor Price appoints Marion S. Battle as Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles. His assistant, Roy P. Bishop, supervised the State Police, Safety, Auto Theft Bureau, Accident Statistics, Communications and Motor Vehicle Garage. All of these offices would later be combined to become the State Police and its Safety Division.
Slacks were adopted as standard uniform to replace breeches and boots of the motorcycle riding days.
Teletype communications began from State Police headquarters in Richmond to cities throughout Virginia. This system provided rapid, written communications between police agencies throughout Virginia which would, in time, link city to city, county to county and state to state.
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.
A Bureau of Criminal Investigations was formed, and it was referred to as the “little FBI.” It was created primarily to cooperate with counties in investigating major crimes as well as stolen automobile complaints. Additionally, the bureau began to conduct extensive background investigations on potential department employees.
State Police moved their offices from 12th and Main Streets in downtown Richmond to a seven-room farmhouse located on 65 acres of land 3 1/2 miles west of Richmond on route 60. This structure served as administrative headquarters and barracks.
The first training school began in the new headquarters.
The state approved plans for a new two-story brick building with basement that became State Police Administrative Headquarters and also served as Division I Headquarters.
The United Mine Workers entered Clinchco to organize the local mine workers’ union and brought about a coal strike in the spring of 1939. A detachment of 40 troopers was called to preserve peace for six weeks in these troubled counties by prohibiting unlawful “parades” involving thousands of miners. Boulders were rolled off mountainsides, and one destroyed a State Police patrol vehicle. Rifle bullets fired by snipers penetrated police and civilian vehicles
In July the director of the Division of Motor Vehicles and superintendent of State Police positions were approved by the General Assembly.
The Commonwealth was divided geographically into four State Police Divisions with headquarters at Richmond, Culpeper, Wytheville and Appomattox.
State Police acquired its first armored car.
The first radio tower was constructed and the Virginia State Police began to broadcast to mobile units from radio station WRIH. The following month the station call letters were changed to WSPH.
The new administrative headquarters for the State Police opened.
Extended teletypewriter service began linking many of the larger cities in Virginia.
Marked cars were being replaced with unmarked patrol vehicles.
The business office was formed. This office was the forerunner of Property and Finance.
In December, America was on the threshold of involvement in World War II. Areas where security was necessary were declared to be in Hampton Roads, Radford, Fort Belvoir, Quantico, Fort Myers, Fort Lee and Hopewell. Troopers were concentrated in these areas to expedite motor vehicle traffic and provide additional security for sensitive military installations and plants manufacturing war material.
On February 21, 1941, the first basic school at the new headquarters began. The school lasted for seven weeks and the curriculum was expanded to include federal statutes, geography of Virginia, jujitsu, physical education, public speaking, radio and teletype, raids and roadblocks, report writing, scientific aids to crime detection and search and seizure. Night classes as well as Sunday sessions were conducted.
Additional radio stations located at Appomattox, Culpeper and Norfolk joined WSPH in broadcasting and receiving.
A State Police investigative unit was formed. This new unit aided the FBI throughout World War II on matters of internal security. This unit also became responsible for conducting background investigations of applicants.
Lieutenant W. C. Thomas authorized The Troopers’ Pledge
Major Nicholas resigned as superintendent of the State Police and Governor Battle appointed Major C. W. Woodson as the new superintendent.
Twenty-five new white cars were added to “The Great White Fleet.” Unmarked black cars displaying regular issued license plates were used to apprehend habitual traffic law violators.
Fifth Division formed in Norfolk and the geographic structure of the Virginia State Police changed again.
By this time, the State Police roster had grown to 220 members.
Applicant investigations became more detailed with comprehensive gathering of data about early associations, education and interviews with knowledgeable individuals concerning character traits of the applicant. Mental and medical exams were given to ensure selection of intelligent and physically fit personnel. Successful completion of the three categories established eligibility for admission to a basic school.
On March 14, 1942, the General Assembly abolished the existing Division of Motor Vehicles and created two separate agencies: The Division of Motor Vehicles and The Department of State Police. The act called for the position of a superintendent for the State Police and a commissioner for the Division of Motor Vehicles. Major C. W. Woodson, Jr. was officially appointed as superintendent for the State Police.
With this separation, the State Police became responsible for its own communication system, vehicle garage and the administration, training, discipline and assignment of examiners of applications for operator’s and chauffeur’s licenses. The duties of the State Police also included supervision of inspection stations, the motor vehicle appliances, accessories and safety devices.
A significant change in uniform occurred in 1942 when the Department switched from the visor cap to the “campaign” hat.
The State Police roster of members numbered 248. However, because of World War II, only 109 were actually performing enforcement work.
Major Woodson revived in-service training which had been abandoned for several years. This in-service training consisted of a six day work week filled with instruction in vehicle maintenance, highway safety and state laws, judo, use of firearms, fingerprinting, prisoner search and plaster casting. Night classes covered many hours of instruction not covered during the day in order that the school could be completed in one week as other members had to be trained in succeeding weeks.
World War II continued to rage and an ever constant need for men existed. The Women’s Auxiliary State Police or WASP was formed. Twenty-six women were hired to serve as license examiners in order to temporarily fill vacancies created while members were serving in the armed forces. Major Woodson himself responded to the world crisis by serving in the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer.
Major J. R. Nunn, Major Woodson’s assistant assumed temporary command of the department during Major Woodson’s absence.
The department abandoned the use of “V” scopes for traffic control. The device had been used in central Virginia to determine the speed a vehicle was traveling over a predetermined fixed distance.
State Police communications on an interstate network began when the teletype-writer system in Virginia joined with 10 east coast states. This invaluable communications provided a written record of messages between these states. This system proved of great advantage in rapidly establishing ownership of stolen vehicles and establishing files of wanted persons, stolen property and other matters of police concern with daily written alarms dispatched from Virginia State Police Headquarters.
Because of much confusion about the proper way of wearing the campaign hat, the department returned to the visor hat; however, students attending the training school continued to wear the campaign hat.
Advances in the internal records system began.
In November of 1945, 17 men returned to the State Police after receiving honorable discharges from the military. Among them was C. W. Woodson who reassumed his rank as superintendent and was elevated from major to colonel by Governor Colgate Darden.
State troopers were sent to Lee County to enforce laws prohibiting the handling of snakes in religious ceremonies.
The Department’s authorized strength was 403 members but the department continued to be short of staff as it had been since the outset of World War II. Fourteen years passed before full strength once again was realized.
Ranks were gradually filled by seven-week recruit schools held at administrative headquarters beginning in March of 1946. Forty men were employed from the first school with starting pay of $1,800 annually.
Two-way voice communications begin between patrol vehicles and a central dispatcher.
Airplanes joined with the ground patrol force as an aid in enforcement. Three aircraft were purchased and located in Pulaski, Lynchburg and Richmond. A landing strip of 1,650 feet was utilized at State Police Headquarters. The flying craft served the Department and all other police agencies having need for air observation and transportation. Many times a pilot, along with an observer, spotted fleeing felons and directed ground forces to points where suspects would be apprehended. Whiskey stills were found by the dozens in cooperation with investigators from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Traffic congestion was diagnosed and modified with the use of the air group. Troopers who were qualified as pilots performed these duties in addition to their regular assignments.
In June of 1947, the State Police Memorial Art Gallery under the supervision of G. Watson James was dedicated. It was the first of its kind in that portraits of members killed in the line of duty were displayed at State Police Headquarters. Artists from throughout the United States contributed their talents to make this program a success.
A Central Police School brought police officers from cities, towns and counties together at State Police Headquarters for the purpose of promoting and exchanging police knowledge.
Annual in-service training for veteran troopers began.
A distinctive color scheme was designed of State Police patrol vehicles. The blue and gray automobiles enabled the motoring public to easily recognize State Police vehicles when assistance was needed and to help deter would-be traffic violators.
The Department acquired two open-top armored vehicles. Assigned to Culpeper and Richmond, these vehicles augmented the mobile armored equipment already in use.
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.
The Department began a 12-hour work day when it was called to the scene of a coal strike.
An increasing misuse of the highways by trucks and tractor-trailers loaded beyond their licensed capacity brought into use the portable scales. Permanent weighing stations became located strategically throughout the state. Staffed by State Police troopers and personnel of the Department of Highways, these stations weighed trucks engaged in interstate and intrastate travel.
There was a national trend to distinctive headgear for uniformed law enforcement. This caused the Department to recommend a change from the time-honored visor cap of the 1945 vintage to that of a wide brimmed Stetson constructed of beaver.
The shoulder patch was changed from the triangular patch embossed with “Va. State Police” to an elliptical shape patch embossed with the lesser seal of the Commonwealth and “Virginia State Police.”
Patrol shifts were reduced from 12 to 10 hours a day as a result of increased personnel.
There were 358 troopers employed with an authorized strength of 490.
A new single story, brick building specifically for training was built. The new building contained a cafeteria, recreation room, photographic darkroom, administrative offices and 11 large rooms that housed four men in each. The vacated training facilities in the administration building, used since 1941, were converted to additional office space which was needed for a rapidly growing department.
Division I moved from its location at State Police Headquarters on Route 60 into a new building of its own, located on Route 1 north of Richmond.
The first training school began for 44 men to last for 10 weeks in order to prepare students to become State Police troopers.
State Police investigators replaced their lie-detecting device with more the more elaborate and efficient polygraph. Henceforth, trained investigators specialized in interviews with victims and suspects while recording heartbeat, respiration and epidermal response. Polygraph examinations were made available to all enforcement agencies and the criminal courts and were frequently used at all State Police division headquarters.
During April and May, 80 troopers were assigned to Danville for five weeks to keep the peace at a textile plant strike. Members worked 12-hour days, six days a week until the tensions ceased.
Conflicts in the coal fields of Wise County intensified with a trooper being assaulted and thrown down the bank of a road. Throughout the summer members kept a close watch on pickets. The weeks of assignment in the southwest were relieved only when a trooper returned to his area for a few weeks of two-hour days patrolling the highways in his county, or as was often the case, several counties.
Two additional armored cars were added to the Department and placed in Salem and Richmond.
The Department began to use microwave point-to-point communications equipment to connect outlying stations to central headquarters.
Reflectorized markings which were easily recognizable at night marked the front, rear and sides of State Police vehicles. The lesser seal of the Commonwealth was placed on each side of the vehicle between “State” and “Police.”
Daily working hours were reduced to eight per day.
Radio detecting and ranging equipment–known as radar, was used for the first time as a speed surveying device throughout Virginia.
The training school increased the State Police basic course to 12 weeks of instruction.
Additional armored cars were assigned to Culpeper and Wytheville.
Motorcycles were phased out.
A 31-target pistol range for training purposes was completed at State Police Headquarters.
A more detailed investigation of automobile crashes began which initiated safety devices in automobiles–from padded dashboards to safety locks on doors. Safety belts were recommended as standard equipment and the first public campaigns began to encourage the driving public to wear safety belts-endorsed as the “latest design for living.”
Stationary radar was first used for traffic speed enforcement.
Division II, Culpeper and Division III, Appomattox, moved into a newly constructed headquarters buildings in their respective areas.
Division IV, Wytheville’s new addition to the existing building was completed, tripling its size.
Water safety and first aid programs were added to the basic school curriculum.
The need for qualified, dedicated troopers continued in 1957. Of the authorized strength of 600, only 568 were on the roads.
Hundreds of troopers were assigned to historic Jamestown and Williamsburg to promote highway safety and provide various services to the public, state and national officials and royalty of distant nations as Jamestown celebrated the 350th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in America. State Police members served daily from spring to fall at the reconstructed site. The National Governors conference was hosted by the Commonwealth with leaders attending from a majority of states and territories of the United States.
Governor Stanley became concerned over rising traffic fatalities, which led him to purchase five multi-colored, unmarked patrol vehicles for State Police use. Each division rotated the vehicles to each area where habitual offenders were located and high incidences of traffic crashes were occurring.
Portable television equipment was added to the ever-expanding communications division. This equipment was used at highway intersections and roadways to study vehicle movements. The department also began surveillance of threatened mercantile and bank establishments.
Authorization was granted to employ clerk-stenographers so that troopers would be relieved of typing lengthy investigative reports as well as results of their accident investigations, thus, permitting them to concentrate more on highway patrol and other police responsibilities.
Troopers began a five-day work week. Prior to this, the work week still consisted of six days. The Virginia State Police was the first among southern states to adopt this schedule, which included the 666 uniformed members and 50 radio dispatchers.
Three additional armored cars are purchased. These vehicles were open at the top but offered side, front and rear protection to the officers inside. One each was stationed at Norfolk, Wytheville and Appomattox.
The Department began to convert all radios to a two-channel system which relieved overlap on station broadcasting. Divisions at Culpeper, Norfolk and Appomattox were assigned Channel 1 while Wytheville and Richmond were assigned Channel 2. The entire fleet of patrol vehicles had been operating over one channel radio frequency since the first broadcast in 1939.
Speed limit raised to 60 mph for cars and 50 mph for trucks.
Major administrative reorganization added a new State Police Division at Salem.
Additional camera equipment was issued to troopers which was necessary to increase the value of investigations of crimes and motor vehicle crashes.
State Police investigators received training in the use of the “Identi-Kit.” Instead of relying on written descriptions or seeking a talented artist who could recreate an offender’s facial likeness, a portrait could be obtained with features pre-drawn on acetate which were laid over each other in order to create a persons’ likeness.
The canine program was instituted to afford the State Police and all enforcement agencies the tracking abilities of German shepherd dogs. One trooper and canine were assigned to each State Police division.
The new Interstate Highway System permitted safe, rapid travel for motorists. Bypasses around cities provided uninhibited passage and reduced travel times for an increasing number of travelers. State Police patrols were added to the new highways to provide service to stranded motorists and to perform essential police functions. Police cruisers were powered with high performance engines and other equipment designed to attain high speed to pursue and overtake those exceeding the speed limit of 60 mph.
Speed limit raised to 65 mph for cars, remains 50 mph for trucks.
An adjunct to expanding services of the State Police was the training and equipping of underwater divers. Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus–SCUBA–allowed troopers to search for victims of drowning or homicide, discarded firearms or evidence.
A pursuit driving course began for new troopers. A figure eight and “T” course permitted precision driving backward and forward between traffic cones within prescribed limits.
An east wing was added to the training school which provided 14 additional rooms for living quarters, classrooms, administrative offices, cafeteria enlargement . Training of State Police personnel, police officers of cities, counties and towns, sheriffs and their deputies was accomplished on frequent and a continuing basis.
An additional canine team was added to each division.
Increased social unrest in the nation caused great anguish for the police. The Department accelerated its crowd control training for troopers during the in-service school of 1965.
Racial unrest continued as the United Klan’s of America staged rallies throughout the state but primarily and frequently in the southside. Illegal cross burnings were common both at nightly gatherings and at people’s homes. Even the Governor’s mansion was illuminated by a fiery cross. Troopers spent thousands of hours inside and outside rally sites to prevent racial confrontation.
A skid pan was added to enable students to drive a slick-tired police car on a watered down surface specially designed to induce skidding, thus, teaching students how to control their patrol vehicles in inclement weather conditions.
Additional training buildings were added with the completion of an Olympic size, indoor training tank for swimming and life saving instruction. Additionally, a gymnasium along with an exercise room completed the physical education structure.
The Virginia State Police 46th Basic School became the first basic school to graduate in the new gymnasium.
The six-inch revolver and the swing-type, motorcycle holster were replaced with a four-inch revolver and stationary holster which provided a forward tilt to the gun butt. A cartridge carrier replaced the 12 loop carrier above the old holster. The Sam Browne belt was retained, but the cross strap was removed from the official uniform.
A labor strike at Newport News involving shipyard employees brought about assaults on city police personnel. Over a hundred State Police troopers were called to the shipyard scene soon after the initial violence. A mob of several hundred shipyard workers gathered on the second day and were soon dispersed by the combined forces of city and state police. Subsequently, labor and management reached an agreement and calm was restored within three days.
Six armored trucks equipped with three inch bullet resistant glass, five-eighths inch armor plated steel, air conditioners and a ram-type front were added to the fleet to replace existing armored vehicles. A unit was assigned to each of the six field divisions.
Colonel Woodson retired on December 31, ending 36 years of state police service and culminating 25 1/2 years as superintendent of the Department.
Governor Mills E. Godwin appointed Harold W. Burgess superintendent of the Department. Colonel Burgess’s resume included 32 years of State Police service including all ranks of supervision, experience as a training school officer, field division commander, field supervisor and executive officer.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain in April and civil disturbances erupted throughout America. Virginia experienced rioting for several days which taxed all law enforcement. Troopers were assigned in large numbers to Richmond, Newport News, Petersburg and Suffolk.
Speed limit raised to 55 mph for trucks.
The remnants of hurricane Camille slammed into Virginia in August. There were 113 deaths, 39 persons were reported missing, and hundreds of persons were injured in the floods that followed the torrential rains. From Clifton Forge to Richmond, the James river basin bore the onrushing trees, boulders, houses, soil and debris. Untold human suffering occurred along the river’s path with Nelson County residents suffering the most. Troopers and investigators participated with rescue teams to evacuate the threatened and administered aid to the injured.
Trooper Reginald Lee Boyd became the Department’s first black trooper.
The 70’s saw a deluge of civil unrest. Two hundred fifty-eight troopers were assigned to the Charlottesville area to prevent striking University of Virginia students. Virginia State College students rallied protesting the expulsion of student leaders. Extensive damage was done to college office buildings and equipment before Norfolk police and State troopers could restore the peace.
Two hundred troopers were at the scene as 2,000 construction workers protested a non-union company converting Virginia Electric & Power Company’s Chesterfield County plant from coal to oil. Protesters in Washington, D.C. opposed to war and poverty descended on the Capitol. Four hundred fifty troopers joined with District and Pentagon police in an effort to maintain peace and keep highways and bridges open in the Northern Virginia area. Bomb threats became the craze by disgruntled students or their sympathizers. Experience gained by troopers in years past contributed to their techniques of rapidly evacuating occupants of buildings.
Inmates rioted at state correctional facilities and State Troopers were called upon to keep and restore order. Truckers and their companies were targets in western counties as dissidents attempted to disrupt the transportation of commodities.
A police officer was shot in Charlottesville and disorder ensued as troopers were called to restore order. Virginia’s right to work law was challenged in the Southwest coal fields and well in excess of 500 arrests were made during a prolonged work stoppage.
The General Assembly moved the Central Criminal Records Exchange from the Attorney General’s Office and added to the growing responsibilities of the Department. This move brought personnel, equipment and 62,000 records to be housed at State Police Administrative Headquarters.
Because of the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Camille, the Department acquired two helicopters, purchased with federal funds.
The General Assembly recognized the enormous drug abuse problem in the state and authorized the hiring of 60 additional troopers. The Virginia State Crime Commission recommended the appropriation of $896,000 to reduce criminal activity surrounding drug abuse and added 48 troopers and 12 investigators to the special team assigned to enforce these specific violations.
Annual salary for starting troopers was $7,344, topping out at $9,600. By July 1, authorized strength was 1,052.
Troopers assigned to Tidewater began to participate in an innovative educational program sponsored by the staffs of the aircraft carriers USS Independence, USS America and the USS Forrestal. A trooper was flown to a carrier returning to the states from its Mediterranean deployment. His purpose aboard was to promote highway safety and give the crews benefit of current traffic laws. For five days he presented safe driving talks to hundreds of men aboard ship. The program–known as Safety at Sea–succeeded in reducing traffic crashes involving sailors and marines and has since become a regular activity of the State Police.
The teletype-writer system was replaced by a computerized message system. This new system made possible the Virginia Criminal Information Network–VCIN.
In December, the training school graduated 57 troopers after completing 21 weeks of classroom an field instruction. The Department continued to operate 60 trooper positions short of authorized strength.
The General Assembly recognized the difficulty in hiring new troopers as a result of salaries well below those of municipal agencies in Virginia and state police organizations of other states. Morale also was a concern. As a result, House Joint Resolution Number 998 was offered, which eventually lead to substantially increased pay and benefits to the members and aided the recruitment program.
Speed limit raised to 70 mph for cars and 60 mph for trucks.
National attention was directed to the activities of organized crime. Law enforcement agencies saw the need to establish specialized units to exchange intelligence with cities and state criminal intelligence sections. The Criminal Intelligence Unit of the Department was created and was comprised of five investigators and a supervisor.
On July 16, the Department reached authorized strength with 894 troopers, 67 investigators, 58 sergeants, 6 first sergeants, 18 lieutenants, 11 captains, 2 majors and the superintendent.
Nations of the Middle East joined in limiting crude oil supplies and raising prices forcing severe reductions of consumption by nations heavily dependent on its oil. Governor Holton declared a state emergency in November because of this shortage and directed the maximum speed limit to be lowered to 55 mph for both cars and trucks. A decline in fatal motor vehicle crashes followed along with a reduction of personnel injuries and damage to property.
The Investigation Division of the Department became effective July 1. The new division consisted of 109 men with first sergeants supervising investigators in Appomattox, Chesapeake, Culpeper, Richmond, Salem and Wytheville.
The Records and Statistics Division was formed and continued its role of furnishing cumulative data on Department activities as well as the management and storage of criminal records.
Mobile radar equipment is added to patrol vehicles, and arrests began to multiply because more members were available to patrol the highways. One person could operate the moving radar.
A bit of nostalgia left the Department when 45-caliber Thompson submachine guns of the State Police were sold. These machine guns had been in use since the 1930s.
The Governor announced a budget reduction imposed on all state agencies. This meant a hiring freeze of troopers which lasted for nine months, leaving the Department with more than 50 vacant positions.
A wave of changes in administration and supervision occurred in July. Additional first sergeant positions were created and over 50 troopers were promoted to sergeant. Numerous investigators were appointed from the rank of trooper.
Training separated from the Personnel Division and became a separate entity within the Department.
A devastating fire destroyed Fourth Division Headquarters in Wytheville. For the next four years Division IV members and employees shared office space with other offices in downtown Wytheville until a new headquarters was constructed.
Virginia State Police hired its first female trooper–Cheryl Nottingham.
Colonel Harold W. Burgess retired as superintendent after serving 41 years in State Police service. Denny Meade Slane was appointed superintendent after serving the Department for 28 years as trooper, sergeant, lieutenant and commander of Division V.
In May the decision was made to discontinue the black, unmarked patrol vehicles. Green, blue, white, gray, salmon and other hues were selected as the new fleet colors of the plain cars.
In the fall, seven supervisors and 30 troopers were trained in tactical police operations at the FBI Academy in Quantico.
By early 1978, each of the field divisions had an operational five-member tactical team which could be summoned for use in hostage situations, incidents involving snipers, barricaded gunmen and other situations where their skills could be utilized.
The Department’s authorized personnel strength of 1,250 police and 496 civilian positions prompted a reorganization of the Superintendent’s Executive Staff. On September 1, a lieutenant colonel’s position was added as assistant to the Superintendent and the two positions of major were expanded to four. The rank of the Department’s personnel officer was later elevated to that of major.
A voice communications capability between troopers and law enforcement personnel of other agencies across Virginia was instituted with the installation of additional radio equipment. The Statewide Interdepartmental Radio System– SIRS– enhanced the climate of cooperation between local agencies and the Department in times of mutual need.
Virginia State Police began using narcotics detector dogs, trained by the U.S. Customs Service in an effort to combat the use of illegal drugs.
The General Assembly transferred from the State Fire Marshall’s Office to the State Police the duties of fire investigation and explosive disposal.
Executive action created the Bureau of Criminal Investigation which replaced the Division of Investigation. Organizational changes took place, retiring the title of investigator and substituting it with special agent. Supervisors were given titles of assistant special agent in charge, special agent in charge, assistant director and deputy director. The new bureau was composed of five divisions: Administrative Services, Criminal Intelligence, Special Investigation, General Investigation and Arson Investigation. Staffing also included professionals in the fields of accounting and law.
Uniformed members were issued short sleeves which became standard issue.
Division VII was created and its headquarters occupied the former Area Nine office in Fairfax County and the geographical structure of the Virginia State Police was changed again.
Dogs were trained to detect explosives and weapons to augment existing teams specializing in narcotics.
Members and employees of Division IV moved into their new headquarters building in Wytheville.
A new Division I Headquarters was occupied in August in Henrico County.
Illegal possession and sale of drugs dominated the news stories relative to police operations. Arrests in Roanoke County, Lynchburg, Colonial Heights, Wytheville, Chesterfield County and Henrico County resulted in the seizure of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana and hashish.
Five years of laborious technical achievement resulted in the completion of a quality radio communication system. The system had four base-to-mobile channels and two car-to-car channels with features such as two channels and switchable priorities, continuous tone squelch, automatic transmitter identification, mobile repeaters and mobile relay. Forty-three transmitter sites and special control circuits provided service for more than 1,500 mobile units.
Once again unrest in Virginia coal fields required the need for troopers and special agents . Coal hauling vehicles and police patrol vehicles were disabled when their tires were flattened after driving over “jack-rocks.” Twenty-three striking miners were arrested as a result of rock throwing incidents.
A phenomenal seizure of 15,000 pounds of Colombian marijuana with a street value of $5 million in Isle of Wight resulted in the arrest of two men.
The formidable task of efficient and effective highway patrol and enforcement of criminal statutes continued as the mission of the Virginia State Police. Rising population rates brought about an increase in crimes against persons and properties. Nine hundred fourteen troopers patrolled 35 million miles of highways compared with the 19 million miles covered during 1957 by 497 troopers.
State Police began enforcing a vehicle emissions inspection law in Northern Virginia.
The motor carrier safety and hazardous materials units were created in 1982. Staffed by troopers in each division, they ensured the safety of commercial motor carriers and buses. The Motor Carrier Safety Unit provided in-depth investigation of commercial vehicle crashes and enforced rules and regulations involving the transportation of hazardous materials.
Inspectors from the Department of Motor Vehicles were transferred to the Department of State Police and received training at the State Police Academy. After 12 weeks of instruction and graduation, Weight Enforcement Officers were assigned to the 11 weigh stations across the state for the purpose of enforcing commercial vehicle laws.
Safety changed from an administrative division to a field division with troopers assigned solely to certify and monitor all state inspection stations. Virginia’s Motor Vehicle Inspection Program continued to be a model of safety programs nationwide.
Motor vehicle inspections were changed from every six months to one inspection a year.
State Police required use of safety restraints in patrol vehicles by all members.
The Department celebrated its 50th anniversary. A new logo was designed by Major Charles Robinson and was used on all Department publications.
Division VII moved into a new building in Fairfax County.
The General Assembly passed legislation making it mandatory that children 4 and under or up to 40 pounds be properly restrained in a safety seat when in a Virginia registered vehicle driving on Virginia highways.
Governor Gerald L. Baliles appointed Robert L. Suthard as superintendent of State Police to succeed retiring Colonel Denny Slane.
The Aviation Unit was formed under direct supervision of the superintendent.
Legislation gave the State Police and the Department of Health joint responsibility for a medical air evacuation system throughout the state. Pilots provided by the State Police Aviation Unit and paramedics with the Chesterfield County Fire Department began Med-Flight to serve Central Virginia. This year long project so impressed the General Assembly just six months into the program that it authorized funds for a large helicopter to carry two paramedics.
Four more helicopters were added to the Aviation Unit, including the two used almost exclusively for Med-Flight. The unit further increased its capabilities when LORANS, a navigational system was added to each helicopter.
Computerization of the Department began, allowing every area office to communicate on a State Police Administrative Network–SPAN and the Virginia Criminal Information Network-VCIN.
A clearing house to help law enforcement locate missing children was established. The system included a centralized file for information exchange, a toll-free 24 hour hotline and a monthly bulletin for circulation to all law enforcement and every school in the state.
The Department began drug screening for sworn personnel.
The Department replaced red dome lights with blue dome lights.
The Department achieved accreditation by meeting extensive standards set by the National Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies pertaining to all aspects of policies, management and operations.
Realizing the need for education about drugs among children, the State Police and the Department of Education began a joint program–Drug Abuse Resistance Education — D.A.R.E. The program’s anti-drug message and its unique method of using uniformed police officers as instructors in the classroom proved so successful that the program has expanded every year since its inception.
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.
Operation Alert, a program which teaches troopers to go beyond the routine traffic stop and to be alert for signs of narcotics smuggling, began to produce significant seizures of illegal drugs, particularly along the I-95 corridor.
The Trooper Teddy program began. The Virginia State Police Association provided small, stuffed bears to the Department which supplied them to troopers. The bears continue to be used by troopers and special agents to help calm children involved in crashes and other traumatic events.
The Aviation Unit moved into a hangar and separate offices with sleeping and eating quarters at Chesterfield Airport.
Criminal identification took a giant leap forward when the AFIS-automated fingerprint identification system was installed at State Police Administrative Headquarters. The $7.7 million computer system which is housed in a temperature-controlled room was brought on line on January 1, 1988. Police agencies all over the Commonwealth have access to the system through remote terminals in 18 police departments and sheriff’s offices.
Data Processing became a division when it separated from the Records Management Division. The new division had responsibility for the AFIS, SPAN and VCIN
Motorcycles were added to the Richmond area.
The Department was reorganized to place the Department’s Communications, Data Processing, Personnel, Property and Finance, Records Management and Training under a Bureau of Administrative and Support Services (BASS).
The Department began to train a number of troopers to recognize drivers under the influence of illegal drugs. Drug Recognition technicians can clearly establish impairment using the standard field sobriety test.
The State’s first safety belt law was enacted, making it a secondary offense to drive without a safety restraint. As enforcement of this law rises, the fatality rate continues to decline.
Once again the Department was called upon to use its resources to keep the peace in southwest Virginia during a bitter coal strike. Amid national media attention, troopers and their supervisors staffed a command post and outposts at several mine entrances. Troopers and special agents investigated thousands of incidents of criminal and mischievous behavior. Sworn personnel were assigned two-week periods of duty at the strike, many returning two and three times. As many as 400 sworn personnel were assigned at any one time. When the strike ended nine months later, the state had spent $7.7 million to preserve peace, including $195,000 for tires to replace punctured State Police patrol vehicle tires.
The Department initiated narcotic canine and handler training for Department personnel and local police agencies. The program consisted of a 12-week course which trained both the handler and the canine.
In a joint effort with the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Virginia State Police established an Auto Theft Unit. Members assigned to these units concentrated on investigating organized theft groups who deal in stolen vehicles, insurance fraud, chop shops, salvage yards, counterfeit documents and other illegal activities.
The Fugitive Unit was formed and designed to focus efforts on apprehending known fugitives.
The speed limit was returned to 65 mph for cars and 55 mph for trucks.
The Motorists Assistance Program was adopted. This program put special vehicles on the road to aid stranded motorists and clear minor accidents. Civilian motorist assistance aides in Northern Virginia, Tidewater and Richmond allow troopers to spend more time enforcing laws and investigating cases.
A two-story wing was added to the Academy’s existing facilities in order to expand training space for recruits, sworn members, civilian employees and the growing number of outside agencies who use the State Police training complex. The new wing created 114 new beds for recruits and those attending in-service training along with separate sleeping quarters for sergeants and one for visiting VIPs. Two auditorium style classrooms, a learning resource center and a permanent place to house the Memorial Art Gallery contributed to provide 62,300 square feet of training space. Air conditioning and remodeling were added to the existing structure.
State Police began using VASCAR speed detection devices to augment radar.
Former Superintendent Colonel Denny Slane presented the Department with a flag he designed. The original flag now hangs in the entrance of the academy.
State Police were called upon to maintain order in the resort area of Virginia Beach as college students gathered during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Legislation went into effect on November 1 making Virginia one of the first states in the nation to require a criminal background check on buyers of certain types of firearms. The Records Management Division set up a 24-hour, toll-free number and hired 15 additional personnel to answer calls from dealers and to supervise the program.
The Department’s Information Office opened its first satellite operation with an office located in Division Seven, Fairfax, to assist both Divisions Seven and Division Two in Culpeper.
Radar detector detectors were installed in patrol vehicles.
Governor Douglas L. Wilder, the nation’s first black governor, appointed Colonel Robert L. Suthard as the Secretary of Public Safety and Lieutenant Colonel William F. Corvello as the Department’s new superintendent.
State Police returned to the resort area of Virginia Beach during a potentially dangerous gathering during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Over 100,000 people demonstrated and became unruly during an annual celebration of college fraternities. State Police trained 500 sworn personnel and dedicated extraordinary amounts of time and resources to the event.
Twenty-four Department employees were called to active military duty when President George Bush began Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in an effort to counter Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Members of the Army, Naval, Coast Guard, Army National Guard and Marine reserves were activated to serve in the Persian Gulf or at bases in the U.S. The average length of stay was 60 days.
Revolvers were replaced with 10mm semiautomatic pistols and bullet-proof vests were upgraded.
Changes in the approximately 4,000 patrol vehicles purchased over the past 10 years included the addition of AM/FM radios and electronically controlled doors and windows.
Working with Ericsson and General Electric, the Communications Division designed and installed a new mobile radio system for patrol vehicles. The new system allowed the State Police radio, SIRS, all emergency lights and sirens to be controlled from one control head.
A combined effort with the American Legion and the Virginia State Police resulted in the first Junior Law Cadet Program which was held for one week in June. This now annual event allows civic oriented upcoming high school seniors the opportunity to experience first hand the daily routine and activities experienced by a basic student going through training.
Drug screening was expanded to include all sworn positions and civilian positions in sensitive positions, becoming the first state agency to require random testing of existing personnel.
BCI was streamlined into three divisions: General Investigations, Special Investigations (drugs) and Support Services.
Under Support Services, the Virginia Criminal Intelligence Center was formed to function as a statewide repository for criminal intelligence information.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit was established to assist the Department and local police agencies.
Six new surveillance vans were purchased and made available to local law enforcement. In the first year, the vans were driven 35,000 miles, operated for 1,243 hours involving 180 assignments and resulting in 64 arrests, the confiscation of more than 2 kilos of cocaine and the seizure of more than $1 million in assets.
The first video recording equipment was purchased and installed in patrol vehicles.
Operating budget reduction for all state agencies mandated.
The AFIS database added 49,354 fingerprint cards.
The Commonwealth’s Offensive Mobilization Against Narcotics Distribution (COMAND) interdiction units was organized.
Forward Looking Infrared, FLIR, equipment was installed on helicopters to assist in locating missing persons and fleeing subjects at night.
The Department’s Drug Information Hotline was initiated and 1,050 calls were received the first year.
The D.A.R.E. unit was moved from BCI to the Training Division.
Colonel Corvello retired and Colonel Carl R. Baker was appointed the sixth superintendent of the Virginia State Police.
The Department celebrated its 60th anniversary, publishing its second commemorative book.
The annual Department budget was in excess of $122 million.
A new certification process was initiated to streamline the certification of motor vehicle safety inspectors.
The Department ceased accepting trooper applications on a continuous basis and went to the process of establishing specific recruitment periods. The purpose was to create an applicant pool for a specific time period.
The Help Eliminate Auto Theft (HEAT) program was initiated and the auto theft/chop shop hotline went into service.
The American with Disabilities Act took effect and training was held for employees.
The Violent Crimes Investigative Unit was formed from the Homicide Unit.
A Firearms Investigative Unit was created to track illegal firearms trafficking.
New evidence collection vans were purchased for Richmond, Appomattox and Chesapeake field division offices. A used one was reassigned to Fairfax to complete the goal of having one such van in each field office.
The superintendent held public hearings across the state to give the public an opportunity to comment on changing public safety needs.
The superintendent initiated a variety of new anticrime partnerships. Troopers were sent to work with local agencies in Richmond, Petersburg, Newport News, Hampton and Portsmouth. The partnerships yielded 772 arrests, 108 search warrants were executed, $1,212,328 in narcotics was seized along with $78,102 in cash, four vehicles and 82 weapons.
A second generation Ericsson GE Delta radio system was tested and refined. The unit is a programmable control head which simplifies and consolidates all vehicle emergency warning and radio equipment function. It was installed in 100 vehicles.
All division headquarters were furnished with TDD devices for the hearing impaired.
Troopers were assigned to assist U.S. Secret Service and other local law enforcement agencies at the presidential debate at the University of Richmond.
The Virginia Auto Safety Alliance, under the leadership of Executive Director Barbara Bolton, established an annual award for troopers who show outstanding achievement in promoting use of occupant restraints. Names are added annually to trophies in each division.
General Investigations Division of BCI placed seven full containment bomb disposal suits into service.
A South Mountain Coal Company mine explosion in Wise County resulted in the deaths of eight miners. Troopers assisted other agencies with clearing a passage.
The Training Division expanded its basic student curriculum to 26 weeks.
The Internal Affairs Unit was reorganized as the Office of Professional Standards, which included the Internal Affairs and Staff Inspection functions.
The Department’s Information Office opened satellite offices at Division V Headquarters, Chesapeake and Division I Headquarters, Richmond.
LoJack, a stolen vehicle recovery system, became operational.
The Department assigned 251 troopers to provide transportation and security as Virginia hosted the Southern Governors’ Conference and African Trade Summit in Richmond.
The Department purchased two new twin-engine Eurocopter Helicopters for medivac based at Chesterfield and Abingdon.
The first trooper-media training event was held at the Academy with reporters and photographers invited to spend three days at the Academy covering the life of a basic student in training.
The Department began a cooperative relationship with “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” a national primetime television show that re-enacted police cases.
The Department provided perimeter security, parking and traffic control for the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill.
The Drug Planning Unit of the Special Investigations Division of BCI merged with Planning and Research Unit.
A *DUI cellular service was implemented for Sprint Cellular customers to report suspected drunk drivers.
A #77 cellular phone service was implemented in Northern Virginia for cellular customers desiring to contact the Virginia State Police.
AFIS expanded and installed remote input terminals at Fairfax, Chesterfield, and Suffolk police departments and the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office.
The Department conducted its most extensive recruitment effort to date, resulting in 3,800 applicants. For the first time, the Department began accepting applications on a nationwide basis.
The title of Weight Enforcement Officer was changed to Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer.
The Department budget was in excess of $130,200,000.
The Sig Sauer 9mm replaced the troublesome 10mm Smith and Wesson service pistols.
The General Assembly passed new legislation that required the establishment of the Criminal Firearms Clearinghouse as a central repository of information for all firearms believed to have been used in a crime and which are later seized, found or otherwise come into the hands of law enforcement officers.
The Department was mandated to maintain a repository of all concealed weapons permits issued by Virginia Circuit Courts.
D.A.R.E. implemented a parent curriculum and revised the middle/junior high school curriculum.
The number of traffic fatalities per 100 million miles traveled in 1993 was 1.34, the lowest in the history of the state.
The Violent Crimes Strike Force was created to assist local law enforcement agencies with the suppression and elimination of street-level drug trafficking and associated violent crimes.
The Department placed second in the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Chief’s Challenge for occupant protection education and enforcement.
A remote-controlled hazardous duty robot was placed into service.
A Sex Offender Registry was established as required by new legislation.
A non-criminal name search program was established for non-criminal entities which are authorized by the Code of Virginia to conduct criminal record searches for employment licensure or other non-criminal purposes.
The Department was required to enter data regarding the issuance of concealed weapons permits into the Virginia Criminal Information Network.
The first of several high volume retail gun dealers were equipped with direct access to the Firearms Transaction Program.
Governor George Allen appointed M. Wayne Huggins superintendent of the Virginia State Police succeeding Colonel Carl Baker who was appointed Deputy Secretary of Public Safety.
Construction began on additions to area offices in Lexington, Pulaski and Independent Hill.
The Central Criminal Records Exchange completed a three-year program to automate 103,000 non-computerized criminal records
A live-scan fingerprinting unit was placed in service at Henrico County Division of Police as a pilot project. This unit electronically captures fingerprint and arrest data and transmits it to the Virginia State Police.
The AFIS data base contained 820,000 fingerprint cards and 15,879 unsolved latents.
The D.A.R.E. unit revised the middle/junior high school curriculum.
A new fitness track at the State Police Administrative Headquarters complex (SPHQ) was completed.
The weight room located in the physical training building was renovated and state-of-the-art training equipment was installed. The room was dedicated in memory of Trooper Glenn T. Moore, a trooper-trainee who contracted an illness and died while a student at the Academy.
Operation Full Alert strategy was deployed in City of Richmond to conduct unannounced traffic checkpoints in most serious crime-laden neighborhoods.
A procedure was implemented to authorize Safety Division sworn employees to issue replacement stickers for those stickers stolen without requiring re-inspection of the vehicle. They also issue replacement stickers for lost or damaged stickers.
A driver training/driver’s license check program was initiated for all civilian employees who drive state-owned vehicles.
The Richmond-Metro Violent Crimes/Career Criminal Task Force was formed to target specific individuals for crimes they committed. All non-VSP task force members were sworn in as special state police officers.
The Richmond Cold Homicide Task Force formed in order to continue investigations of certain homicides in Richmond. The task force included the Richmond Police Department, Virginia State Police and the FBI.
Major restructuring of the Department took effect. Some changes were as follows:
The Internal Audit office transferred from Superintendent’s Office to the Office for Professional Standards, which was renamed the Professional Standards Unit.
Coordinating the accreditation process was transferred from Professional Standards to the Planning and Research Unit.
The Information Office was renamed the Public Affairs Unit.
The Special Investigations Division renamed the Drug Suppression Division.
The Aviation Unit transferred from the Superintendent’s Office to the Bureau of Field Operations.
The Motor Carrier Safety Unit was made a part of the Safety Division.
The Communications Division was reorganized.
The Firearms Investigative Unit/Firearms Investigative Task Force was decentralized and FIU members enforcing state laws reassigned to the Bureau of Field Operations. The workload was distributed to the seven field divisions according to origin of an offense. The FITU concluded joint activities with expiration of grant funds on December 31, 1996, and firearms-related investigations were assigned to BFO and BCI.
A Restructuring Plan, Executive Order 38 (45), and the Work Transition Act resulted in 253 retirements and resignations from the Department in 1995-96.
The General Assembly sent 24 State Corporation Commission positions to the Virginia State Police.
The telephone system at the Administrative Headquarters complex (SPHQ) and BCI-Moorefield were upgraded to ISDN Centrex Service.
All field division headquarters were upgraded before Computer Aided Dispatch and consoles were installed.
A new concealed weapons permit system was implemented to provide access to the database through the wanted system.
A Volunteer Service Program was initiated.
The Department’s annual budget was in excess of $132,393,548.
Construction was completed on area offices at Lexington, Pulaski and Independent Hill.
Construction began on new division headquarters buildings for Division II, Culpeper and Division III, Appomattox.
Severe flooding in Madison and Orange Counties required many calls for assistance. The Aviation Unit shuttled 64 persons to higher ground and hoisted six from life-threatening situations.
The Virginia State Police won the IACP’s nationwide and annual Chief’s Challenge for occupant restraint enforcement and education programs.
A Crime Prevention Program, infused with federal grant funds, was established to enable the Department to proceed aggressively in this area. The first 50 troopers began training toward certification as crime prevention specialists.
The Auto Theft Unit purchased a salvage examination mobile unit for chop shop investigations and salvage yard examinations.
The Interdiction Unit was expanded to facilitate a simultaneous focus on efforts on all trafficking methods.
The transition began to replace blue dome lights on patrol vehicles with blue bar type lights.
The Public Affairs Unit created a presence on the Internet for the Department by designing a user-friendly web page. The purpose of the website is to provide the public with information about Department programs and activities while allowing the public an opportunity to email comments, suggestions, and questions.
The Training Division opened the Virginia State Police Computer Training Laboratory. The center provides basic, intermediate and advanced computer training on narcotics enforcement and support related programs and systems to state and local narcotics and criminal enforcement officers, administrators and support personnel.
The position of deputy superintendent was eliminated as a result of the Department’s restructuring effort when Deputy Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Basil Belsches retired.
The Department received a second award of reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.
New radio dispatch consoles were installed at Divisions I, IV, V and VI.
Telephone systems at Divisions I, V and VI were upgraded to ISDN centrex.
The Department budget was in excess of $136,461,635.
Construction began on addition and renovation of Franklin Area Office.
Correctional Status Information was developed to comply with the Code of Virginia. Information received from the Department of Corrections updated the criminal record name file with active probation/parole statutes.
The blizzard of 1996 severely affected Divisions II, III and VI and spring flooding affected some of the same areas.
Hurricane Fran severely affected rural counties in Division II, Shenandoah Valley.
Neighborhoods and roads were destroyed in Shenandoah, Warren and Rockbridge counties, and there also was flooding in Halifax County. Division VI, Salem, was affected with major flooding when 9 inches of rain fell in 12 hours, closing many roads. Two fatalities were reported.
The Department was called in to investigate the abduction and murder of Alicia Showalter Reynolds in Culpeper. Over 7,500 leads. No arrests to date. The investigation continues.
The Department also has been involved in assisting local agencies with several other high-profile murder cases involving teen-aged females.
The Computer Evidence Recovery Unit was established at BCI to assist agencies in investigation criminal activity which involves the use of computers.
The Virginia State Police formed the Richmond Metro Interdiction Task Force along with Chesterfield, Henrico, Richmond and Petersburg police departments, Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Richmond International Airport Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Operation Grand Slam was a joint effort of the Virginia State Police, West Virginia State Police, Kentucky State Police and Ohio State Highway Patrol in cooperation with the U. S. Army National Guard, U. S. Forest Service and the DEA. Eradication efforts were conducted from Wytheville field office and all border counties of these states were involved.
The Narcotic Interdiction Units expanded into four teams: two in Richmond and one each in southwest Virginia and Tidewater in order to facilitate a simultaneous focus of efforts on all trafficking methods.
Division II and Division III headquarters were completed and opened.
The Department completed conversion from Ofis Link to a Windows-based operating system with much new hardware and software.
The General Assembly authorized 105 new trooper positions. The first of two Basic Trooper Schools began in December and the second in March of 1998.
The Department’s operating budget exceeded $136,461,635.
The Department’s authorized strength was 2,462, with 1,494 sworn personnel, 332 assigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and 636 civilian members.
The 9 mm Sig Sauer semiautomatic was replaced with the Sig Sauer .357 semiautomatic handgun because it was determined to be a ballistically superior weapon.
The Department issued a request-for-proposal to implement mobile computer terminals in a limited number of patrol vehicles.
Encrypted mobile radios were installed in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s vehicles.
The 97th and 98th Basic Schools began, and the 96th and 97th schools graduated 113 troopers.
The Department’s operating budget exceeded $139.4 million.
A new warehouse was constructed behind administrative headquarters and named the Berkley Building in honor of Kenneth G. Berkley, Materiel Management Director, Property and Finance.
The Department adopted the manufacturer’s standard shades of blue and gray for patrol cars as well as the manufacturer’s painting scheme for the purpose of saving thousands of dollars.
Certain information concerning “violent” sex offenders in Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry was, by law, made available to the public on the Internet.
Area 48 was created in Northern Virginia.
Governor Gilmore authorized using significant State Police resources to initiate saturation patrols on Virginia’s interstate highways with the primary goal of reducing crashes, injuries and deaths by enforcing speed limits and other traffic laws . The first special enforcement effort occurred on Interstate 81 on February 21. Colonel M. Wayne Huggins and Deputy Secretary of Public Safety Bruce Morris rode the entire 325 miles of I-81 and held news conferences at four locations. State Police issued 1,730 summonses that day and received numerous letters and telephone calls of support and appreciation from motorists across the state.