Colorado State Patrol

The Colorado State Patrol was established in 1935 as a division of the Colorado Department of Highways. The agency was originally known as the Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol. It was one of only four law enforcement agencies then existing in the state of Colorado.

On September 23, 1935, 44 men were the first to wear the uniform of the Courtesy Patrol as the original pioneer members to the future Colorado State Patrol. By 1945, the ranks of the Courtesy Patrol had grown to 100 Patrolmen, 10 Sergeants, 6 Captains, 1 Assistant Chief and the Chief.

In 1947, the organization's name was formally changed to the Colorado State Patrol. The original Patrol Act specified that "it shall be their duty to promote safety, protect human life and preserve the highways of Colorado by the intelligent, courteous, and strict enforcement of the laws and regulation of this state relating to highways." Courtesy thus became the underlying theme of the Patrol Act.

In 1955, when the Colorado State Patrol began issuing it's own plates for it's patrol vehicles, the agency was up to 200 patrolmen, 12 Corporals, 13 Sergeants, 10 Captains, a Deputy Chief and a Chief. By 1956, the Colorado State Patrol had 156 cars (mostly Ford Interceptors) and 20 motorcycles being used for highway patrol.

1965 saw 123 new Plymouth Fury's arrive for patrol on Colorado's highways and by-ways. In 1984, the CSP moved from the Department of Highways to the Department of Public Safety.

Colorado State Flag

The flag consists of three alternate stripes of equal width
and at right angles to the staff, the two outer stripes to be blue of the
same color as in the blue field of the national flag and the middle stripe to be
white, the proportion of the flag being a width of two-thirds of its length.
At a distance from the staff end of the flag of one fifth of the total
length of the flag there is a circular red C, of the same color as the
red in the national flag of the United States. The diameter of the letter
is two-thirds of the width of the flag. The inner line of the opening of the
letter C is three-fourths of the width of its body or bar, and the outer line of
the opening is double the length of the inner line thereof. Completely
filling the open space inside the letter C is a golden disk,
attached to the flag is a cord of gold and silver, intertwined,
with tassels, one of gold and one of silver.

LICENSE PLATES OF THE COLORADO STATE PATROL
Prior to the State Patrol getting its own titled license plates in 1950, all CSP patrol vehicles used to sport regular passenger license plates issued from the local county issuing offices. The majority of CSP-issued license plates based on period photographs show a "10" County prefix (Arapahoe) followed by a number up to four digits. Some CSP patrol vehicle assignment numbers were based on the last 3 numbers of the license plate. (see photo below)

This photograph from 1948 shows a marked CSP
patrol car with assignment number 404 painted
onto the driver's side door, and the 1948 Colorado
license plate affixed to the front of the car that
reads 10-4404 (Arapahoe County). It's not certain
whether or not this was the exception or the rule
for all CSP marked patrol vehicles.
 
(Plate picture is needed)
Picture of plate on car is needed
In 1950, a black over white embossed steel license plate measuring 6" x 13 3/4" was produced, however the only specimens ever seen were samples bearing the number 000. The format was STATE PATROL over 000 over COLORADO and consisted of four short-slotted mounting holes.

Picture courtesy of the Colorado State Patrol
From 1955 to 1970, a similarly-formatted plate was issued however it measured 6" X 12" and was made of a heavy gauge steel. Some people mistake these plates for porcelain enamel due to their durable construction. Black over flat white. STATE PATROL over a number up to 3 digits over COLORADO and consisted of four medium-sized narrow mounting slots. This issue was known as the "Bulletproof Issue" due to it's solid and heavy gauge steel. The plate weighs over 1 pound. One CSP retiree quipped to me that when he totaled his patrol car back in the late 1960's, although the car was a write-off, the plates withstood the impact well enough that they were able to be used again! (See plate #33)

Picture courtesy of Ron Taylor
From 1970 to 1983, a much lighter embossed steel version of the same plate was used. Black over reflective white. STATE PATROL over a number up to three digits over COLORADO. (See plate #44)

(Also known on this base plate is an "IN TRANSIT" version which is identical to the regular version with the exception of the the words IN TRANSIT embossed in small font along the bottom of the plate where the state name would normally be. This type would be used on a CSP vehicle that had not yet been officially registered but needed to be moved from one locale to another whether under its own power or while being towed. Confirmed # 4 seen in photograph, but unsure if "IN TRANSIT" plates are still used by CSP today)
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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In 1982, an embossed galvanized steel version of the same plate but with STATE PATROL in smaller font over a number up to three digits over COLORADO. This was used for only one year and used concurrent with the 1970 base plate. (See plate #59)

1983 to 1989 saw the use of "Auditor Code" plates. There were three distinct varieties during these six years. This version is embossed galvanized steel. Green over reflective white. STATE PATROL embossed in small font over a number beginning with 10 followed by a dash and 4 numbers over COLORADO. The number 10 prefix was the designation of the Colorado Department of Highways, of which the state patrol was under until the formation of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. Issued in Spring of 1983. These plates were never popular with CSP troopers. (See plate #10-0140)
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1983-1989 issue
"10" is the state auditor's code for CSP four-wheeled vehicles.
Any additional info about this plate would be appreciated.

Courtesy of Cpl. J. Allen "Al" Trujillo- CSP (retired)
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1983-1989 issue. Embossed aluminum. Flex-O-Lite light green over flat white version. This is one of the less-successful versions made with the state auditor's code, as the Flex-O-Lite fine-crushed glass beads took a beating especially on the front bumper, losing much of its paint. The contrast between the light green and the white background was also not deep enough, so darker green was ordered.
(See plate #10-0212)


Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

1983-1989 issue. Embossed aluminum. Flex-O-Lite dark green over flat white version. This was a darker version (better contrast) but the improvements to the reflective glass beads was still not effective on a plate exposed to such extremes in Colorado weather and "battle stress" of patrol duty including car washes!
(See plate #10-4073)
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1989 to 1991 had bright and colorful aluminum plates introduced to the CSP known as the "Designer base". A screened mountain scene in blue over flat white along the top legend of the plate with red and yellow "C" to the left of the state name over CSP-### over STATE PATROL embossed in small font dies along the bottom of the plate. The registration number and STATE PATROL were painted with blue Flex-o-Lite.
(See plate #CSP-001)

1989-1991 issue- also a "Designer base" in the same colors and format, however a thicker die
type used for the characters.
1989-1991: Also a "Designer base" in the same colors and format, however a thicker die type used for the characters. This was the more common version used on this base. (See plate #CSP-011)
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Prototype of the 1989-1991 "Designer base" in the same colors and format using the word HIGHWAY along the bottom. Never went to full use. (See plate #CSP-532)
1991-1997: The 3M Company in Minnesota began to aggressively pursue the greater share of the Colorado license plate manufacturing market. The company provided these three different attractive versions of the same design free of charge to the State Patrol. This apparently was done unbeknownst to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles. Each version was dark blue over reflective white. They featured a step border and had the same top legend which was two dark blue horizontal stripes set against a light blue mountain range silhouette. The state name was placed between the top and bottom blue line with the red and yellow "C" to the left of it. COLORADO over CSP-### over STATE PATROL. The only embossing on the plate was the registration number. This version has "fatter" dies on the characters and a long dash separating the CSP from the assignment number. (See plate #CSP-002)
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1991-1997: Same type as the preceding version, only all flat. No embossing except the step border around the plate. Very few of these were ever used and the numbering begins at 600. With only about 600 vehicles in the CSP fleet at the time, these flat plates were used only when the lower numbers were not immediately available, while an older car was being sold or before the old number could otherwise be transferred to a new car. (See plate #CSP-606)
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1991-1997: Same type as the other two, but uses thinner Kansas dies for the characters with no dash separator. These plates came out closer to 1995 and into the changeover in 1997. (See plate #CSP 012)


Current use CSP plate.
Note that bar code in bottom right corner no longer used.
Picture courtesy of Dennis Deal

Picture courtesy of Dennis Deal
1997-2008: Black over reflective white. Entirely flat screened aluminum. A black silhouette mountain range along the top with the state name inside in white. COLORADO CSP (Flying Wheel CSP logo in full color) ### STATE PATROL a black band that runs the length of the plate along the bottom with an inventory bar code on the right hand side. Some of these plates also run validation decals. (See plate #CSP-536)
MOTORCYCLE LICENSE PLATES OF THE COLORADO STATE PATROL
(Plate picture is needed)
Picture of plate on motorcycle is needed
The earliest known motorcycle license plate for the CSP was from 1954, and was embossed steel. It measured 8" x 4" and was black over white. It had an embossed painted border with STATE PATROL embossed along the top over a number up to 2 digits. One mounting hole in each corner of the plate. No state name. Unknown how long it was used for.
Picture of plate on motorcycle is needed
1960's: An embossed steel plate measuring 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" was used. Black over white. COLORADO 19 (and a blank space for validation decal which was never affixed) over MC and a number up to 2 digits.
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1970-1983: An embossed galvanized steel plate measuring 8 1/2" x 4 1/2". Black over Reflective white.
19 COLORADO (and a blank space for validation decal which was never affixed) over MC- and
a number up to 2 digits. (See plate #MC-2)


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1983-Circa 1996: An embossed aluminum plate measuring 7" x 4", Green over white. A number beginning with 09- ### over COLO. The number 09 prefix was the Colorado State Auditor's accounting code number for CSP motorcycles. This plate was CSP m/c #5. The CSP ceased using motorcycles in January of 1985 and sold-off the fleet. In 1988, eight new Harley Davidson motorcycles were purchased by the CSP. The 1983 "09" license plates that had been removed from the discontinued fleet were retained in storage and assigned to the new fleet. It is believed that these plates were used on CSP motorcycles until the mid 1990's. (See plate #09-005)

Picture courtesy of Investigator Scot McGinniss
Colorado State Patrol (Ret)
1997-2003: An all-flat silk-screened graphic plate similar to graphics on CSP car plates. A black silhouette mountain range along the top with the state name inside in white. COLORADO over Flying Wheel CSP logo in full color followed by a number up to 3 digits over CSP. A black band that runs the length of the plate along the bottom with an inventory bar code on the right hand side. Some of these plates also run validation decals. (See plate #100)

 

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2003 - Current: An all-flat silk-screened graphic plate similar to graphics on CSP car plates. A black silhouette mountain range along the top with the state name inside in white. COLORADO over CSP followed by Flying Wheel CSP logo in full color followed by a number up to 3 digits over STATE PATROL. A black band that runs the length of the plate along the bottom with an inventory bar code on the right hand side. Some of these plates also run validation decals. (See sample plate #CSP-000)
OTHER LICENSE PLATES OF THE COLORADO STATE PATROL
In addition to car (including "IN TRANSIT") and motorcycle license plates used by the CSP, there are also known trailer plates that were issued specifically for the CSP. Some of the known versions are as follows:
REGULAR SIZED TRAILER PLATES:
(Plate picture is needed)
Picture of plate on trailer is needed
1950's to 1970s: it measured 6" X 12" and was made of embossed steel. Black over white. STATE PATROL over TRLR (stacked vertically) followed by number over COLORADO.

1955-1970 issue- Trailer plate
Picture of plate on trailer is needed

1970-1983 issue- Trailer plate
Picture of plate on trailer is needed

1970-1983 In Transit issue. Used by CSP vehicles traveling
between state vehicle yard and CSP garage for outfitting and
in some instances, from CSP garage to assignment location.
Picture of plate on trailer is needed
1989 to 1991: "Designer Base": A screened mountain scene in blue over flat white along the top legend of the plate with red and yellow "C" to the left of the state name. Colorado over CSP-T## over STATE PATROL embossed in small font dies along the bottom of the plate. The registration number and STATE PATROL were painted with blue Flex-o-Lite. Since so few trailers are used by the CSP, it can be surmised that this type may still be in use today.
MOTORCYCLE SIZED TRAILER PLATES:

c.1960's Small Trailer plate.
8 1/2" x 4 1/2" embossed steel.
Black over white
Picture of plate on trailer is needed
1950's-1960's: Black over white. An embossed steel plate measuring 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" was used. COLORADO 19 (and a blank space) over SP followed by TLS (Stacked vertically) and a number.