South Dakota Highway Patrol

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South Dakota Highway Patrol
South Dakota Highway Patrol.jpg
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Courtesy Patrol (1935-1937)
  • Motor Patrol (1937-1956)
Employees229 (as of 2004) [1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionSouth Dakota, USA
Size77,116 square miles (199,730 km2)
Population874,500 (2017 est.)[2]
General nature
HeadquartersPierre, South Dakota

Troopers189 (as of 2017)
Civilians75 (as of 2004) [3]
Agency executive
Parent agencySouth Dakota Department of Public Safety
South Dakota Highway Patrol website

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is the State Police agency for South Dakota, which has jurisdiction everywhere in the state except for sovereign Native American reservations. It was created to protect the lives, property and constitutional rights of people in South Dakota. In addition to enforcement of laws, the SDHP has regional SWAT teams that provide tactical and warrant services to police and Sheriff Departments. The SDHP is also responsible for training K-9 teams to law enforcement agencies in South Dakota. The SDHP also has a division responsible for executive protection of the state dignitaries and protection of the capital grounds and administrative state buildings and grounds. It currently has an authorized strength of 189 sworn personnel.


Troopers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol are entrusted with the authority to conduct investigations concerning violations of criminal and traffic statutes throughout the state, regardless of city, township, or county boundaries.

Including traffic enforcement, in communities that already have a police presence, the South Dakota Highway Patrol may respond to citizen calls. The South Dakota Highway Patrol has statewide jurisdiction, and frequently assists other agencies with emergency calls for service ranging from accidents, criminal investigations to fights in progress. As a mission of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, they will preserve peace and order.

Headquarters staff are based out of Pierre. A Motor Carrier Division is also headquartered in Pierre.



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 state's 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 (3,200 km) of hard-surfaced roads and 4,000 miles (6,400 km) of gravel highways.

Motor Patrol[edit]

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.

Highway renovation[edit]

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 Sheppard 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 reins 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 (2,500 mm) 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 by Governor Mike Rounds in April 2003. Colonel Mosteller was assigned to Division Headquarters in 1992 and 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 accident reduction and service to the citizens of the State of South Dakota. Colonel Mosteller retired in June 2010.

Governor Dennis Dugaard appointed Craig Price a former Trooper to the rank of Colonel in 2011.


Under the direction of fourteen 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 public 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.

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, 5 officers have died in the line of duty.[4]

Officer Date of Death Details
Patrolman Bernard Benson
Wednesday, September 17, 1941
Automobile accident
Trooper Henry N. Russell
Wednesday, November 19, 1958
Automobile accident
Trooper Verlyn Lamonte Mettler
Tuesday, March 9, 1976
Trooper Steven Eric Hoffman
Wednesday, March 12, 1980
Struck by vehicle
Trooper Oren Stuart Hindman
Thursday, May 2, 1985

See also[edit]


  1. ^ USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for the United States..." United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  3. ^ USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ South Dakota Highway Patrol Call to Honor Page

External links[edit]