Kentucky State Police

As early as 1932, it became apparent that there was a need to supplement the sheriffs and local police departments of the Bluegrass State with a State Police agency. However, it was not until February of 1948, that Kentucky became the 38th state to enact a State Police Act.

The KSP did not become "official" until July 1st of that same year. The new department inherited the men and equipment of its predecessor agency, the Kentucky Highway Patrol. Just 12 years earlier, that agency was formed with just 40 officers.

By the time it evolved into a full service police agency it had grown to 200 officers. Incredibly, the legislation allowed KSP officers to have full police powers of arrest anywhere in Kentucky except cities of the first five population classes (1000 residents or more). The only way KSP Officers could perform duties in those centers was to enter only by invitation of local officials or the governor. These restrictions continued until as late as 1976!

In the 1950's "Incognito squads" patrolled the highways in unmarked cars, checking for speeders and cracking down on overweight trucks. The 1960's saw KSP marked patrol vehicle's color changed from black to gray In 1974, the Department of Public Safety was abolished and the KSP moved into the auspices of the Kentucky Department of Justice as a bureau. It was around this time that KSP marked patrol cars went to a blue and white color scheme.

In 1980, the KSP absorbed the old division of Highway Enforcement (Vehicle Enforcement Section) and Water Safety. The KSP also took over Capitol Security from the Department of Finance (Facilities Security Section). The KSP saw further reorganization in 1982.

The 1980's also had more car color changes: Patrol cars changed color twice: first to white then back to Kentucky State Police Gray and Ford Mustang 5 Liters were purchased. In 1990, the KSP had 939 sworn officers, and as of late, that number has grown again to 1000.

Kentucky State Flag

Placed on a navy blue field is the seal and
words "Commonwealth of Kentucky". The two
people on the seal, a pioneer and a statesman,
represent all the people. They are acting out the
meaning of Kentucky's motto: "United We Stand; Divided We Fall".
Sprays of goldenrod extend in a half circle around the picture.

Kentucky State Highway Patrol- 1942 issue.
Silver over Black 9 1/2" x 5 3/4" embossed steel.
"HIGHWAY DEPT" on lower legend.

Photo Courtesy of Walter Chisholm- KSP Retired

July 1 1948: The day that the Kentucky State Highway Patrol became the Kentucky State Police.
Changing over of the license plates from Highway Department to State Police.
Pictured in dark suit is the first Commissioner of the KSP, Guthrie Crowe with the SP-1 plate gracing his Buick.
Crouched to the right is officer Joe Hall. If anyone knows who the gentleman on the far left is, let us know.

Photo Courtesy of Walter Chisholm- KSP Retired

Circa 1952- Unknown colors but likely black over yellow/orange.

Photo Courtesy of Walter Chisholm- KSP Retired

Circa 1955 issue.
Colors unknown. KENTUCKY embossed over SP-225 over OFFICIAL.
Shown with Trooper Ray McCarty

Photo Courtesy of Walter Chisholm- KSP Retired

1964-Circa 1970 issue- Flat painted
yellow/orange background.

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this type plate on duty....
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1970/71 issue. This issue was an experiment with reflective sheeting. You can actually see the wrap-around of the sheeting on the back of the plate as well as traces of the flat paint beneath it. RARE

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Circa 1971 to 1979 issue- Since the reflective sheeting experiment did not meet expectations, the KSP went
back to a flat painted plate.
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Circa 1974-1979 issue. Letter "K" was dropped to
allow 4 digit assignment number
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1975 Commissioner's Issue. It has been stated that this type
was a "trial" or "essay" plate to introduce reflective
materials on KSP license plates. The 3M Company offered
to produce a graphic license plate (seen below) which
was opted for instead of this version. One of a kind.
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this type plate on duty....
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1975-1979 issue. Reflective aluminum issue with graphic
of agency emblem. Use of non-Kentucky dies to strike the
numbers, therefore likely to have been produced out-of-state.
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this type plate on duty....
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1979-1982 issue. The agency went back to flat painted steel
but kept the more visible blue over white color combination.
It can only be surmised that the previous graphic aluminum plate although more attractive, did not weather the elements
and abuse of day-to-day patrol as effectively as the steel state-
produced versions in the past. It is also possible that the
contract was not renewed in favor of a state-produced plate.
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this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1981-1982 issue. Although this plate appears similar to
the one above, this one has no lead-zero which was the typical
way of numbering KSP assignment numbers at the time. This
plate also features a brighter and glossier white background.
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The KSP instituted an Aggressive Criminal Enforcement program in the early 1980's. The ACE program awarded each year, the KSP trooper who recovered the most stolen motor vehicles and effected the arrest of the perpetrators. This plate was presented at an awards ceremony in Lexington on June 9 1983 to Sgt Joe M. Allen of Post 13 (Hazard) for his incredible recovery of 132 stolen vehicles and 63 arrests in connection with the thefts in 1982. Sgt. Allen received this plate (which he had attached to the front of his patrol car through 1984), an engraved plaque, and a check for a $1500 all-expenses paid vacation presented by the insurance industry in Kentucky, as well as the distinction of being the KSP's "Screaming Eagle". RARE indeed! (the plate AND the officer!)
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1983- Late 1990's issue- Known as "Gold Letter version". Embossed painted border with Georgia dies.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

Circa 1983- Late 1990's version.
Possibly a test sample. 3M dies used with a very
high assignment number.
 

Circa 2000-Current issue- Step border. No holograms


KSP Professional Association souvenir
 

Retired KSP- Personalized private license plate