Utah Highway Patrol

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Utah Highway Patrol
Utah Highway Patrol patch.jpg
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • State Road Patrol Police
Employees1,018 (as of 2004)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionUtah, United States
Utah in United States.svg
Map of Utah Highway Patrol's jurisdiction.
Size84,889 square miles (219,860 km2)
Population3,101,833 (2017 est.)[2]
Legal jurisdictionUtah
Governing bodyUtah Department of Public Safety
General nature
Operational structure
Troopers475 (as of 2008)[3]
Civilians480 (as of 2004)[1]
Agency executive
  • Colonel Michael Rapich, Superintendent
Parent agencyUtah Department of Public Safety
Utah Highway Patrol vehicle

The Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) is the functional equivalent of state police for the State of Utah in the United States. Its sworn members, known as Troopers, are certified law enforcement officers and have statewide jurisdiction.[4] It was created to "patrol or police the highways within this state of Utah and to enforce the state statutes as required."[5]

The Utah Highway Patrol is a division of the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Rank structure[edit]

Title Insignia
Colonel Gold-vector.svg
Maj leaf 003.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
Utah highway patrol sergeant insignia.svg

Issued vehicles and weapons[edit]

Discontinued Utah Highway Patrol police cruisers

The UHP has a mixed fleet of vehicles: Ford CVPI, Dodge Charger, Chevy Z71 Suburbans, and multiple Dodge and Ford pickups. The UHP also issues its troopers take home cars, which can be used within 50 miles (80 km) of their residence. The Ford Mustang SSP was used from 1985 to 1995 and was highly reliable at the time.[6] The Mustang was then superseded by the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.

The UHP issues its state troopers the Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm caliber or Glock 18 9mm machine pistol (The Glock 18 is issued to Section 18: Governor's Security Detail Troopers only). (Troopers may also carry a personal weapon, provided it is chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 auto.). Troopers are also issued the Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun and each patrol vehicle carries a Colt AR-15/M4 carbine rifle. Prior to issuing AR-15's, The Patrol began participating in a program with the US Government and purchased surplus M-14 rifles. Troopers also carry tasers, expandable batons, and pepper spray. The UHP continues to issue and utilize the M-14 rifle, especially in rural areas of the state. The carbines are primarily issued to Troopers in urban and densely populated areas.

Fallen officers[edit]

Two UHP motorcycles

Since the establishment of the Utah Highway Patrol in 1923, 16 officers and 1 K9 have died while on duty.[7][8]

Rank Name Date of Death Cause of Death Age Location
Patrolman George Van Wagonen May 23, 1931 Killed after accidentally falling on a large circular saw while warning a beet slicing business about escaped prisoners in the area 42 At Lake View beet slicing plant on Geneva Road in Provo, Utah
Trooper Armond A. Luke March 12, 1959 Killed in a wreck during a pursuit; he swerved to avoid a group of deer and lost control, plunging into the Sevier River below 54 In the Sevier River, under Highway 89, six miles south of Circleville, Utah
Trooper George Dee Rees February 7, 1960 Killed after being struck head-on by a vehicle running from other Troopers 41 Intersection of Highway 89 and Highway 91 near Lagoon, Utah
Trooper John R. Winn Sep 22, 1971 Crushed and killed after the construction vehicle he was operating flipped as he helped construct a radio tower 36 On Lake Mountain, west of Utah Lake
Trooper William John Antoniewicz August 12, 1974 Shot and killed while on a traffic stop with a speeder 27 On I-80 in Echo Canyon, nine miles east of Echo Junction, Utah
Agent Robert B. Hutchings Jul 20, 1976 Shot and killed during a drug/narcotics raid 32 588 E 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
Trooper Ray Lynn Pierson July 11, 1978 Shot and killed on a traffic stop by a teenager that was wanted for getting gas and not paying 30 On Highway 20, west of Panguitch, Utah
Trooper Daniel W. Harris Aug 25, 1982 Killed after losing control of his motorcycle as he approached stopped traffic while pursuing a vehicle 33 On I-80 in Parley's Canyon, Utah
Trooper Joseph Samuel Brumett, III November 12, 1992 Struck and killed by a pickup driven by an illegal alien while investigating a crash scene 24 On I-15 near 2800 S in Salt Lake County, Utah
Trooper Dennis Lavelle Lund Jun 16, 1993 Shot and killed after a bullet pierced his windshield during a pursuit with two teenage boys 37 On I-70, several miles west of Green River, Utah
Trooper Charles D. Warren May 16, 1994 Succumbed to health problems due to being shot on a traffic stop in 1969 that left him paralyzed N/A Shooting took place on Utah State Route 77 near Springville, Utah
Sergeant Doyle Reed Thorn Jul 30, 1994 Killed in a helicopter crash while flying back to base after helping find a missing child 52 Near Strawberry Peak in Wasatch County, Utah
Trooper Randy K. Ingram May 10, 1994 Killed after being struck by a tractor trailer while sitting in his patrol car on a traffic stop 39 On I-15, south of Nephi, Utah at the 208 mile marker
Lieutenant Thomas Sumner Rettberg November 2, 2000 Killed in a helicopter crash during a routine maintenance flight 58 Near 1500 South and Redwood Road in Salt Lake City, Utah
Trooper Aaron Robert Beesley Jun 30, 2012 Killed after falling 90 feet down a cliff during a search-and-rescue operation 34 On the Mount Olympus trail in Salt Lake County, Utah
K9 Tank Nov 16, 2012 Killed after being struck by a tractor trailer while out on a bathroom break 11 On I-80 near Salt Lake City, Utah
Trooper Eric Dale Ellsworth Nov 22, 2016 Succumbed to injuries sustained on Nov 18, 2016 when he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic around low hanging power lines 31 Near Garland, Utah


The UHP has been involved in several incidents which have gained local, national and international news attention.

DUI Task Force[edit]

Nate Carlisle, in The Salt Lake Tribune, reported that: In a memo in 2010, "Sgt. Rob Nixon said he reviewed 20 of Steed's arrests for driving under the influence of drugs and found in seven of those cases, toxicology tests showed the driver had only a low amount of drugs, referred to as metabolite. Four other drivers had no drugs in their system", according to Nixon's memo.[This quote needs a citation] Yet in every case, Steed wrote reports claiming the drivers showed signs of impairment, such as dilated pupils and leg and body tremors. Nixon referred to "a pattern" of conflicting information between Steed's arrest reports and the laboratory results and said: "This is something that needs to be addressed before defense attorneys catch on and her credibility along with the DUI squad's credibility is compromised."[This quote needs a citation]

UHP last year[timeframe?] said they addressed some of Nixon's concerns with Steed, but apparently no formal review was done until Winward[who?] undertook it. Fuhr said the Winward review demonstrates Steed always had cause to suspect the person she arrested was impaired or otherwise not supposed to drive. Even in the few cases where the toxicology tests did not reveal drugs, an admission of recent drug use or other suspicious signs could be used as evidence to convict someone of a charge of driving with a controlled substance in their system.

Also, the Nixon memo has been misinterpreted, Fuhr said. Nixon was not accusing Steed of arresting innocent people, but rather saying she sometimes arrested people on suspicion of the wrong charge; Utah has separate offenses for drivers under the influence of drugs and those who only have drugs in their system.

Nixon's memo also described helping Steed arrest a man who showed little sign of impairment, but whom Steed reported to be exhibiting dilated pupils and tremors. Fuhr said Nixon got that case wrong, and pointed to documents saying the driver admitted to using meth two days earlier, and was "pretty hooked."[This quote needs a citation] Documents indicated he tested positive for meth. Steed's report said she also found a baggy with white powder and a pipe with meth residue. The court case was not so cut-and-dried. After that driver was charged in Salt Lake County Justice Court with misdemeanor DUI, drug possession and two traffic violations, charges were dismissed in 2011. A court docket says the prosecutor dismissed the charges for "evidentiary reasons."[This quote needs a citation] Attorneys in the case did not respond to messages seeking a further explanation. UHP did not make Nixon available for an interview with The Tribune.

Hamilton said he has been unable to determine how many of Steed's arrests resulted in successful prosecutions. UHP has said it does not have those numbers. UHP is having to defend Steed in the civil rights lawsuit. Fuhr, who may give a deposition in that case, expressed frustration at news reports saying Steed was fired for making false arrests. She was fired for problems with her testimony, Fuhr said, and UHP has not found evidence Steed manufactured evidence. "When these stories go out," Fuhr said of the false arrest allegations, "it hurts every single trooper."[This quote needs a citation]

Lisa Steed was named the Utah Highway Patrol trooper of the year in 2007 for her many many DUI arrests. She was the first woman to receive this award. In court March 27, 2012, Steed admitted she intentionally violated the agency's policies twice during a 2010 traffic stop.

Memorial crosses[edit]

On November 20, 2007, a judge ruled that the 14 white crosses erected by the Utah Highway Patrol Association could remain in place. An atheist group had filed suit, claiming the memorials were a violation of the separation of church and state.[9] However, on August 18, 2010, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the white roadside crosses used to memorialize the deaths of 14 Utah Highway Patrol troopers are unconstitutional, government endorsements of religion on public lands. "We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion."[10] The Utah Highway Patrol Association had claimed that "roadside crosses, in particular, are secular symbols," and have erected signs saying "not a state endorsement of any religion."[11]

Rogue officers[edit]

Ernest Wilcock[edit]

A former officer from Salt Lake City was convicted of two first-degree counts of rape, two first-degree counts of aggravated kidnapping, one second-degree count of attempted rape and a third-degree felony count of aggravated assault on February 13, 1987. The attempted rape and aggravated assault charges stem from a Feb 8 incident in which Wilcock allegedly demanded sexual favors from Amy Schaefer, 20, of Holladay, in exchange for not citing her for public intoxication. He is accused of firing 13 shots at her when she drove away in his patrol car and called on the car's radio for help. He was found guilty of those charges and sentenced to 5 years in jail.

Safe driving campaigns[edit]

"1-877-JAIL-FON" was a phone number created by the Utah Highway Patrol that allowed people to practice the "one phone call" from jail if arrested for impaired driving. The intention was to get people thinking about the consequences of drinking and driving as well create an open a dialogue between friends. The program targeted the 21-30 age group. Callers selected to speak with a choice of persons who were unhappy about their predicament, and were educated about the consequences of drinking and driving in a humorous manner. The phone number is no longer available.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies" (PDF). ojp.usdoj.gov. United States Department of Justice. June 2007. p. 6. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  2. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau. June 22, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  3. ^ "USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies" (PDF). ojp.usdoj.gov. United States Department of Justice. July 2011. p. 7. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Title 53 Chapter 8 Part 1 Section 106". le.utah.gov. Utah State Legislature. 1993. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  5. ^ "Title 53 Chapter 8 Part 1 Section 105". le.utah.gov. Utah State Legislature. 2005. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  6. ^ "SSP Frequently asked questions". www.sspmustang.org. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  7. ^ "Fallen Troopers". honoringheroesfoundation.org. Utah Highway Patrol Honoring Heroes Foundation. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  8. ^ "Officer Down Memorial Page: Utah Highway Patrol". odmp.org. Officer Down Memorial Page. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "UTAH'S CROSS CONTROVERSY". Newsweek. November 16, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  10. ^ Falk, Aaron (August 18, 2010). "Judges rule against Utah highway crosses for fallen troopers: Utah's attorney general strongly disagrees with appeals court". Deseret News. Salt Lake City: Deseret Digital Media. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  11. ^ utahtrooper.com website Archived November 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Campaign to fight DUI offers 'jail call'". Deseret News. August 27, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  13. ^ "Jail Fon Gives Drinkers a reality check - KSTU". Fox13now.com. August 27, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  14. ^ "Utahns can now practice DUI jail call". Azcentral.com. Associated Press. August 28, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  15. ^ "New approach to drunk driving prevention". ksl.com. August 27, 2009. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
  16. ^ "The Beyonce Experiment: How Far Can She Go?". Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  17. ^ "New approach to drunk driving prevention". Retrieved April 8, 2016.

External links[edit]