Arkansas State Police

State Police:

1929 saw the creation of the Arkansas State Road Patrol also known as the State Highway Police. Fiscal restraints and reorganization in 1933 saw the force abolished and mandate transferred to the Arkansas State Revenue Department.

On March 19th,1935 the Arkansas State Police was born primarily as a result of fighting the proliferation of the moonshine industry with 13 new officers. The first men to be empowered in Arkansas with statewide law enforcement duties and responsibilities were known as Rangers.

In 1937, the Arkansas State Police head count rose from 13 to 50 men and a headquarters was established in Little Rock. By 1948, the number of officers rose to 99 and it was the year they became known as Troopers.

1970 was the year Troop letter designations were used for the first time which replaced the numerical designations, and it was reflected on the license plates of the day and ever since.

 

Arkansas State Flag

A diamond on a red field represents the only place in
North America where diamonds have been discovered
and mined. The twenty-five white stars around the diamond mean
that Arkansas was the twenty-fifth state to join the Union.
The top of four stars in the center represents that Arkansas
was a member of the Confederate States during the Civil War.
The other three stars represent Spain, France and the United States,
countries that had earlier ruled the land that includes Arkansas.

LICENSE PLATES OF THE ARKANSAS STATE POLICE

The earliest license plate issuance information for the ASP dates back to the late 1930's. An embossed steel (Approx.6.0"x 13.5") plate with four long mounting slots in each corner was used. The colors were black over yellow and the embossed border was painted black.

The words STATE over POLICE were in the center of the plate in large thick dies over the embossed state name along the bottom of the plate. An embossed solid black 6-point star was to the left of the plate, and on the right side was the assignment number in small "motorcycle dies".

This type of plate was used until the 1956 mandatory 6"x 12" format law came into effect, and although the dimension of the ASP plates became smaller, the format and coloring remained pretty much the same as the older version.

What makes ASP plates identifiable by age in these early years was the shade of yellow, the material the plate was made from, and the mounting hole configuration. Most people can see a "black on yellow" ASP plate and think they are all the same, but they are not.
(See plate #89 on this page)

This 1956 or "second issue" plate had a more "orange-like" shade to the paint, and was also identifiable by having four standard round mounting holes, but also two additional short slots at the upper left and right side of the plate.

There were 7 Districts with a Lieutenant in charge of each District and these district numbers were reflected on the license plate numbers.

For the 1956 era license plates: District 1 Little Rock; District 2 Newport; District 3 Clarksville; District 4 Hope; District 5 Warren; District 6 Forrest City; Dictrict 7 Harrison.

In 1958 an 8th District was added at Fort Smith with the previous 7 remaining the same.

In 1959 there was a reorganization with 4 Districts with a Lieutenant as the Commander and a Lieutenant as the Assistant Commander District 1 Little Rock; District 2 Newport; District 3 Fort Smith; District 4 Warren.

The lowest numbers following the District Number was typically by rank seniority of the District. District Commanders were "00", Assistant District Commanders were "01" and so on.
(See plate #287 on this page)


The next issue came out in the early to mid-1960's and although it was identical in format to the "second issue" plate, this version had a lighter yellow and reflective background which improved officer safety from a "night visibility" standpoint. When a vehicle with its headlights on approached the officer's vehicle from the rear, the patrol car could be seen from a greater distance. Reflective sheeting has been used on ASP license plates ever since.

In 1965 there were 7 Districts some commanded by a Captain and some by a Lieutenant:
District 1 Little Rock; District 2 Newport; District 3 Forrest City; District 4 Warren; District 5 Hope District 6 Fort Smith; District 7 Clarksville.

In 1968- an 8th District was added at Jonesboro with the previous 7 remaining the same.
(See plate # 800 on this page)


Early 1960's, 8 District (Jonesboro District Commander)
reflective yellow- 4 mounting holes/2 slots

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In 1968, the state of Arkansas switched to aluminum license plates. A similarly-formatted plate as the previous issues was still used by ASP patrol vehicles, but made of the newer and lighter material as well as having the unusual configuration of three long mounting slots in the top left and bottom corners and one mounting hole in the top right.
(See plate # 166 on this page)

1968-1970 issue, 1 District (Little Rock) first aluminum
issue- 1 mounting hole/3 slots - RARE type
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1960's type: embossed steel, four round mounting holes
but with small six-point star, District 3 (Clarksville) Car 13.
Not a well-known documented type.

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On July 1, 1970, the ASP changed its Patrol Districts from number designations to letter designations.

A= Little Rock, B= Newport, C= Jonesboro, D= Forrest City, E= Dumas (Now Pine Bluff), F= Warren, G= Hope, H= Ft. Smith, I = Harrison, J= Clarksville. K= Hot Springs.

1976: an 11th District added at Hot Springs with the previous 10 Districts.

Also in 1976: “Districts” became “Troops”.

1977: a 12th Troop was added at Springdale with the previous 11 Troops.

License plates of the day were embossed aluminum with black on reflective lemon yellow sheeting in the same format as had been used since the 1930's, but with four round mounting holes and the District (later: Troop) Letter above the number. General Headquarters plates were all numerical.
(See plate # F 19 on this page)


1970-1976 issue, Troop F (Warren)-
4 mounting holes only


Around 1976, the black over yellow color combination that had been used on ASP license plates for over four decades was abandoned for a blue over reflective white version. These plates were the identical format as the 1970 version.
(See plate # L 17 on this page)

1976- early 1990's, Troop L
(Springdale-New troop in 1977)


Picture courtesy of Robert Ward

Arkansas State Police Commission - 1976-Early 1990's issue.
The Commission is comprised of seven civilian members appointed by the governor. The term lasts seven years with each member taking a turn at being Secretary, Vice chairman, Chairman etc..This plate would be believed to belong to the fourth member of the seven person commission (hence the number 704) This is merely a semi-educated guess as this plate was not a general issue and there are not believed to be any other ASP Comission plates in circulation. The person who would have been assigned this plate would have been appointed by then-Governor Bill Clinton.
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Although no exact year can be pinned-down yet, it was approximately 1990/91 when a new graphic license plate was introduced to the ASP fleet. This plate was a reflective white aluminum plate with embossed dark blue numbers and a painted embossed border. The state name was silk screened in dark blue upper case letters between the upper bolt-holes. Below and to the left was a screened graphic of the ASP emblem with the center design inside the blue star done in red. To the right of the ASP emblem was the embossed Troop Letter and number, or in the case of a Headquarters plate, a number only. The bottom legend of the plate had the words STATE POLICE silk-screened in dark blue between the lower boltholes. No visible holograms can be seen in the sheeting. These plates are known as the "Red Center" plates due to inside color of ASP emblem.
(See top plate number B11 on this page )


Early 1990's- mid 1990's, Troop B (Newport) known as
"red center" plate due to color inside emblem


Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

In 1998, the "Red Center" plates were replaced with a "Gold Center" plate. Aside from the change in the color of the center of the ASP emblem, the only other differences were that the state name along the top became more "stylized" and the corners of the embossed border were sharper. State shaped holograms with "98" running vertically down the center of the sheeting can be seen.
(See bottom plate # B11 on this page)

(It has been stated to me that the ASP may have returned to a "Red Center" plate. I would appreciate any confirmed information in this regard, and a photo (or retired plate!) would be great!)

Mid-1990's-2002, Troop B (Newport) known as
"gold center" plate due to color inside emblem



2002- Current issue
"Red Center"- Headquarters plate.
Uses the graphics and dies of the mid-1990's version,
but the color scheme of the early 1990's issue.

2010-2011 75th Anniversary issue
Plates funded by Arkansas State Police Association and will
become property of the assigned trooper on January 1 2011

Picture courtesy of Sgt. Randall Dias
Arkansas State Police.

2010-2011 75th Anniversary issue
101 is assigned to the Colonel of the Arkansas State Police
Courtesy of Todd Quick
 

2010-2011 75th Anniversary issue
Number in the 9000's are assigned to
Criminal Investigation Division personnel
Courtesy of Todd Quick
MOTORCYCLE LICENSE PLATES OF THE ARKANSAS STATE POLICE

Very little information is known about ASP motorcycle license plates, and we're hoping for some good historical input from anyone "in the know", Inspectors from the Arkansas State Revenue Department had approximately 10 motorcycles in their fleet in the mid 1930's, however it is likely that they may have just used standard Arkansas m/c license plates on their "rides".

The first confirmed ASP motorcycle license plate issuance is around 1964 when a "small version" of the ASP car plate was issued for the handful of ASP motorcycles on patrol. The plate measured 6" x 4" and was made of embossed aluminum. The plate was painted black over a reflective yellow background. The word STATE was embossed along the top legend above an embossed assignment number beginning with the letter M (Motorcycle) flanked by a solid black embossed six-point star on either side of the assignment number. The word POLICE was centered along the bottom legend of the plate. It is believed that the ASP motorcycle patrol was disbanded sometime near 1967. Thirty years later, the "motor unit" program was re-instituted, however only plain Arkansas m/c license plates are run on the ASP bikes from what I've been told.

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FRONT BOOSTER PLATES OF THE ARKANSAS STATE POLICE

ARSP Association Booster plate for Member.
Flat screened aluminum
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ARSP Association Booster plate for Member.
Embossed aluminum
Picture courtesy of Robert Ward
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ARSP Association Booster plate for Member.
Embossed aluminum

Early 1990's-Mid 1990's.
Issued to Chaplain of ASP

Picture Courtesy of Brian Drake
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LICENSE PLATES OF THE ARKANSAS HIGHWAY POLICE

Although many folks don't realize it, the Arkansas Highway Police have been around LONGER than the Arkansas State Police. The Arkansas Highway Police (AHP) who operate under the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (ASHTD) protect the State Highway System by enforcing Arkansas' size and load laws. Commercial vehicles are monitored for speed and other traffic violations. Hazardous materials and commercial vehicle safety laws are enforced. Permits are issued for movement of overloaded and/or oversized vehicles and compliance is monitored. Commercial truck registration and motor fuels tax laws are enforced. Highway Police officers are also designated as enforcement agents for the Commissioner of Revenues. License plate issuance on AHP vehicles is more of an educated guess so far as opposed to definite time frames.

 

Highway Police:

Formed in 1929.


In 1953, Weigh Inspectors of the Weight Division Unit of the Arkansas State Revenue Department were absorbed into the the newly formed Weights and Standards Division of the Arkansas State Police and given full police powers. 1963 saw the Weights and Standards Division was transferred to the State Highway Commission.

1979 was the year when the Weights and Standards Division was renamed to the current Arkansas Highway Police Division of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. The officers of the ARHP still have full police powers and are sometimes known as the "Truck Troopers" but can enforce other motor vehicle laws and cite moving violations as well.

The earliest known AHP plate issued is compliant with 1956 dimension standards (6" x 12") and made of heavy sign gauge aluminum. The plate is completely silk-screened in black over reflective yellow/orange similar to colors used by State Police vehicles of the day. The words STATE HIGHWAY go along the top of the plate just below the upper bolt-holes. Below that and stacked along the left legend of the plate is W & S (Weights and Standards). Continuing in the center of the plate is POLICE followed by a 3-digit number. The first number indicates the District the vehicle is assigned. The other numbers are the vehicle number. Current ASHTD District Numbers are:

1= Wynne, 2= Pine Bluff, 3= Hope, 4= Fort Smith, 5= Batesville, 6= Little Rock, 7= Camden, 8= Russellville, 9= Harrison, 10= Paragould.

The state name follows along the bottom legend of the plate above the lower bolt-holes (See plate # 277 on this page) With the term "Weights and Standards" no longer used after 1979, another flat black-on-yellow/orange plate was used. This one was almost identical in format to the State Police plates of the day but with the word HIGHWAY where STATE would be seen on an ASP plate. The plate was also flat-screened aluminum.
(See plate # 376 on this page)


1950's/1960's issue. Heavy gauge aluminum. Weights and Standards
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Circa 1970's issue.
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection

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In the 1980's, a more attractive graphic version came out for the agency. The flat silk-screened aluminum plate had brown characters over a reflective white background. To the far left of the plate is a 4" circular emblem of the AHP similar to the shoulder patches worn by officers. The word HIGHWAY is positioned along the top over a 3 digit number (first number being the District) over POLICE.
(See plate # 574 on this page)

In the 1990's, an identical plate was issued, however with an altered agency logo. This type is known as the "hollow" version, as the ASHTD legend forms an open ring around the AHP star.
(See plate # 599 on this page)

There is a new version being used currently and I would appreciate any confirmed information in this regard, and a photo (or retired plate!) would be great!


1970's/80's issue. Shoulder emblem design
Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1980's/90's version with "ringed" shoulder
emblem design
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1997-current issue
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