History of the South Dakota Highway Patrol
In 1935, the Governor of South Dakota, Tom Berry, recognized the need for an organization to enforce the traffic laws and provide assistance to the motoring public. Governor Berry appointed ten men that were known as the "Courtesy Patrol." These knights of the road were tasked with enforcing all the laws in South Dakota and helping to inform the public about the states emerging traffic regulations. Each man was given a car, affectionately called a "milk wagon," a tow chain, a first aid kit, and a gallon of gasoline. The new officers were assigned to patrol the 2,000 miles of hard surfaced roads and 4,000 miles of gravel highways.
The Courtesy Patrol wore purple coats and tan "breeches." Duty assignments required the officers to work seven days a week, twelve hours a day, and the officers were subject to call twenty-four hours a day. The patrol cars were not equipped with radios for communication and each officer made occasional telephone calls at filling stations to see if they were needed for an investigation or emergency. The Courtesy Patrol rules required them to stop and aid all motorists on the highway. If the motorist was changing a tire, the patrolman stopped to help. He never left a stalled automobile until the driver was safely on his way.
The legislature abolished the Department of Justice in 1937 and the authority for the Highway Patrol was transferred to the Highway Department. The Courtesy Patrol was disbanded and the new Motor Patrol was founded. Walter J. Goetz, Chief of Police in Aberdeen, was appointed Superintendent and was given the authorization to hire eight men to serve as South Dakota Motor Patrolmen. Chief Goetz served as superintendent eighteen years and retired in 1956. Chief Goetz increased the number of Motor Patrolmen from eight to forty and his tenure is most noted for the acquisition of two-way radios for each patrol car in 1948. Chief Goetz guided the Motor Patrol through manpower shortages during WWII, the flooding of the Missouri River, and Missouri River dam construction. The Patrol was involved in many life-saving efforts during the record blizzard of 1949. The blizzards and floods of 1952 taxed the resources of the Motor Patrol. 1953 ushered in the South Dakota Drivers License and 179 people died on South Dakota roads.
A 40 million dollar highway construction project began in 1956 and the role of the Motor Patrolman as an enforcement officer began to change. Traffic fatalities were on the rise and the Patrol was given a mandate to reduce fatal accidents. Governor Joe Foss appointed Jasper J. Kibbe as Patrol Superintendent of the Highway Patrol on August 1, 1956. Kibbe was a former F.B.I. agent and during his tenure he increased the manpower to fifty-two men. Colleagues considered Kibbe an excellent administrator because record keeping and activity reporting improved.
1958 saw the Oahe Dam closure completed and a record 240 people died on South Dakota roads. By executive order, various colored and unmarked patrol vehicles were utilized for a time to help reduce the death toll from traffic accidents. The port of entry system was started on a trial basis.
J. J. Kibbe resigned as superintendent and Captain Don Shepard was appointed acting superintendent until Patrolman Ken Balogh was appointed superintendent by Governor Ralph Herseth on September 1, 1959. Balogh served as head of the Patrol from 1959 to 1961. During this time, the Implied Consent Law for drivers and drivers tests were initiated by the legislature. Forest fires threatened the towns of Deadwood and Lead. 1960 brought severe flooding to Sioux Falls. Balogh expanded the port of entry inspection stations and installed top mounted police lights on patrol cars. He organized the safety education section of the Patrol and authorized the use of two-tone patrol cars.
On January 15, 1961, Patrolman Cullen P. With was appointed Superintendent. The Highway Patrol continued to grow to meet the demands caused by natural disasters, traffic and motor carrier enforcement, stopping traffic deaths, and violence from strikes. With initiated the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant, four door patrol cars with air conditioning, created the operations manual, started recruit training and in-service schools, and began a firearms qualification program. With served as the Patrol leader until 1965.
Ted Arndt was appointed Superintendent on May 1, 1965. During his term, flash floods in the Black Hills caused a major mobilization of the Patrol to respond to the emergency. A March 1966 blizzard killed ten people and 95,000 head of livestock died. 260 people died in highway related accidents and multiple fatal accidents killed 32.
Captain Delton Schultz took the reigns from Arndt in 1967. The Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Program was approved and the state employees retirement system was created. Security for circuit judges was given to the Patrol following a shooting of a circuit judge in Rapid City. Additional men were added to the force. Over 100 inches of snow blanketed South Dakota in 1969. The Patrol was heavily involved in rescues, relays, and security work during the winter months and during the flooding conditions that followed. 296 people died in traffic accidents in 1969. 1970 brought demonstrations from militants in the Black Hills. The Rapid City flood of 1972 killed 260 people and caused millions in property damage. The Indian demonstrations resulted in the Patrol being involved in many tactical operations.
Colonel Dennis Eisnach was appointed Superintendent in 1974. Militant groups of the time caused the Patrol to form the Initial Response Unit (now called SWAT). Then Governor Kneip took a great interest in the activities of the Patrol and authorized an additional 75 men and women to be hired and trained. The district concept was reorganized under Eisnach and vast improvements were made in the administration of the Patrol.
Jerry Baum was appointed Director of the Highway Patrol in 1979 by Governor William J. Janklow. Budget cuts forced a reduction in manpower and the Patrol strength fell to 142 uniformed officers. Despite the reduction in officers, Director Baum set enforcement standards for DUI and drug interdiction. Baum ushered in the age of technology.
Governor George Mickelson appointed Colonel Jim Jones to head the Highway Patrol in 1987. During his term, Jones organized the 50th Anniversary celebration of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Jones recognized the importance of fair and effective law enforcement. The prevention of DUI related fatal and injury accidents were his top priorities. Jones dedicated his energies towards training personnel to meet the demands placed on the Troopers.
Superintendent Gene G. Abdallah was appointed by Governor Janklow in 1995 and served until 2000. Abdallah personified the "get things done" attitude of the South Dakota Highway Patrol. Always moving forward, Superintendent Abdallah did not look back at what he had accomplished. He looked to the future and the possibilities.
Colonel Thomas A. Dravland received his appointment as Superintendent on January 8, 2000 by Governor William Janklow. Colonel Dravland served as Major of the South Dakota Highway Patrol for Colonel Jim Jones and Superintendent Gene Abdallah. Colonel Dravland brought experience and leadership when he assumed command of the Patrol. The mission of the Highway Patrol continued to be DUI interdiction, drug enforcement and accident prevention.
Colonel Daniel C. Mosteller was appointed Superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol 2003 by Governor Mike Rounds in April 2003. Colonel Mosteller has been assigned to Division Headquarters since 1992 and has served as training coordinator, Alpha Team supervisor, and as the Assistant Superintendent. Colonel Mosteller expanded the Highway Patrol's technological capabilities to meet the Division's goals of crash reduction and service to the citizens of the State of South Dakota.
The Highway Patrol is currently under the direction of Colonel Craig Price. Colonel Price was appointed in 2010 by Governor Dennis Daugaard.
Under the direction of fifteen governors and thirteen superintendents, the men and women of the South Dakota Highway Patrol moved from a reactive organization to a proactive group of men and women who anticipate changes in highway safety and enforcement techniques. The Patrol has matured into a professional law enforcement agency prepared to respond to the ever changing needs of the public it serves. The 162 members of the Highway Patrol wear the uniform and badge with pride and distinction.