Illinois State Police

On June 24, 1921, the 52nd General Assembly of the State of Illinois authorized the Department of Public Works and Buildings to hire a "sufficient number of State Highway Patrol Officers to enforce the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Laws." This new group of law enforcement officers were known as the State Highway Maintenance Police.

The Illinois State Police was officially created in 1922 and the primary function of the agency was the protection of the roads from damage by overweight vehicles. In 1927, the first patrol cars (Chrysler coupes) were purchased and issued only to Sergeants as they were deemed to be District Commanders.

Troopers patrolled on motorcycle. In 1930, the Chryslers were replaced by Ford Model A's. 1948 saw a temporary end to the use of motorcycles for patrol. In 1967, the black and white patrol cars were replaced with a basic beige color scheme. In 1977, a reorganization took place within the ISP and left it with 5 Divisions: State Police, Criminal Investigation, Internal Investigation, Support Services and Administration Additionally, each division within the Illinois State Police provides specific services.

The Division of Operations' services entail: aircraft support for enforcement and public assistance; vehicle investigations; underwater search and recovery operations; K-9 support for tracking and drug detection; presentations to the public on traffic safety and crime prevention; criminal investigations to detect and suppress the traffic of illicit drugs; develop strategic and tactical criminal intelligence data; investigate serious offenses; and apprehend fugitives.

Operations also provides support to many county, municipal and federal law enforcement agencies. Today, the ISP is comprised of sworn personnel and civilians totaling more than 3,000, and is one of the most modern and efficient police organizations in the USA.

Illinois State Flag

The Illinois flag is a simple representation of the
Great Seal of Illinois against a white background.
In 1969, the General Assembly voted to add the
word "ILLINOIS" under the Great Seal of the flag. The State's
name was added to the flag to ensure that people not
familiar with the Great Seal of Illinois would still recognize the banner.
From the early days of patrol car and motorcycle use, the Illinois State Highway Patrol
and Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police used standard passenger car and
motorcycle license plates from 1921 and at least until 1939 as pictured on the car below.
There were no known reserved number blocs on those types.

Illinois State Police ~ 1939
Passenger base plate

Picture courtesy of Norman Rhoades
 
<1940 - no photo>

~PLATE NEEDED~

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949)
utilized M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates .
M #### ILLINOIS 1940. A confirmed-use number
based on a period photo is M 8467. These plates were
embossed steel, measured approximately
5 1/2" x 9 3/4" and were White over Brown.
 
<1941 - no photo>

~PLATE NEEDED~

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates.
ILLINOIS 1941 M #### . No reserved number bloc at
that time. A confirmed-use number based on a period photo
is M 7773. These plates were embossed steel, measured
approximately 5 1/2" x 9 3/4" and were
Black over Deep Yellow.

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates. M10 000## ILLINOIS 1942. The M 10 ### number bloc was reserved
for the ISHMP beginning that year, however some period
photos going back to 1940 have shown numbers as low as
in the M 7000's on their marked patrol vehicles. M10 101
is confirmed use by ISHMP that year. These plates were
embossed steel, measured approximately 5 1/2" x 9 3/4"
and were Deep Yellow over Black.
<1943 - no photo>

~PLATE NEEDED~

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates reserved in the
M 10 000 series. ILLINOIS 43 M 10 ### however some
period photos going back to 1940 have shown numbers as
low as in the M 7000's on their marked patrol vehicles.
Plates in this series from 1943 until 1948, measured
5 1/2" x 11 1/2" and were made from compressed soya
beans in an extended effort to preserve metal during and
shortly after World War 2. It is entirely possible that plates
used by the state police may NOT have been issued annually
during the war years. These plates were not embossed.
Cream over Green.
<1944 - no photo>

~PLATE NEEDED~

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates reserved in the
M 10 000 series. M 10 ### ILLINOIS 1944 however some
period photos going back to 1940 have shown numbers as
low as in the M 7000's on their marked patrol vehicles.
Plates in this series from 1943 until 1948, measured
5 1/2" x 11 1/2" and were made from compressed soya
beans in an extended effort to preserve metal during and
shortly after World War 2. It is entirely possible that plates
used by the state police may NOT have been issued annually
during the war years.These plates were not embossed.
Cream over Brown
.
<1945 - no photo>

~PLATE NEEDED~
The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police (as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates reserved in the M 10 000 series. ILLINOIS 1945 M10 ### however some period photos going back to 1940 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's on their marked patrol vehicles. Plates in this series from 1943 until 1948, measured 5 1/2" x 11 1/2" and were made from compressed soya beans in an extended effort to preserve metal during and shortly after World War 2. It is entirely possible that plates used by the state police may NOT have been issued annually during the war years. These plates were not embossed. Deep Orange over Black.
<1946 - no photo>

~PLATE NEEDED~

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police (as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates reserved in the M 10 000 series. M 10 ### ILLINOIS 1946 however some period photos going back to 1940 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's on their marked patrol vehicles. Plates in this series from 1943 until 1948, measured? 5 1/2" x 11 1/2" and were made from compressed soya beans in an extended effort to preserve metal during and shortly after World War 2. These plates were not embossed. White over Maroon.
 

The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates reserved in the M 10 000 series as this one, however some period photos going
back to 1940 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
on their marked patrol vehicles. Plates in this series from 1943
until 1948, measured 5 1/2" x 11 1/2" and were made from
compressed soya beans in an extended effort to preserve metal
during and shortly after World War 2. These plates were not
embossed. Cream over Green.

We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?




The Illinois State Highway Maintenance Police
(as it was officially known from 1923 until 1949) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates reserved in the
M 10 000 series. M 10 ### ILLINOIS 1948 however some
period photos going back to 1940 have shown numbers as
low as in the M 7000's on their marked patrol vehicles.
Plates in this series from 1943 until 1948, measured
5 1/2" x 11 1/2" and were made from compressed soya
beans in an extended effort to preserve metal during and
shortly after World War 2. These plates were not embossed.
Black over Deep Orange.
 

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.
Embossed steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4" Cream over Blue.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.
Embossed steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4"

Dark green over White.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
utilized M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates
usually in the M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some
period photos from 1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as
low as in the M 7000's and as high as the M 11 000s on
their marked patrol vehicles. Embossed aluminum
(The last time aluminum plates would be used in
Illinois until 1968) - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4"
Maroon over Aluminum.


The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.
Embossed steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4"

Navy blue over Orange.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.
Embossed steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4"

Maroon over Cream.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.
Embossed steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4"

1954 was the first year for LAND OF LINCOLN
to grace the state's license plates.

White over Green.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.

Embossed thin steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4" for numbers
under 10000 and Approx. 5 1/2" x 12" for numbers 10000 and up Colors on Illinois plates from 1955 to 1961 were to
represent different colleges in the state.
Orange over Navy blue for University of Illinois.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.

Embossed thin steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4" for numbers
under 10000 and Approx. 5 1/2" x 12" for numbers 10000 and up Colors on Illinois plates from 1955 to 1961 were to
represent different colleges in the state.
Green over White for Illinois Wesleyan
NOTE: Despite a continent-wide license plate size
standardization commencing in 1956 for all plates to
go to the 6" x 12" dimension requirement, Illinois
M-prefixed plates still used the "shorty format" for these plates.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.

Embossed thin steel - Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 3/4" for numbers
under 10000 and Approx. 5 1/2" x 12" for numbers 10000 and up Colors on Illinois plates from 1955 to 1961 were to
represent different colleges in the state.
White over Red for Northwestern University
NOTE: Despite a continent-wide license plate size
standardization commencing in 1956 for all plates to
go to the 6" x 12" dimension requirement, Illinois
M-prefixed plates still used the "shorty format" for these plates.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.

Embossed thin steel - 6" x 12" plates commenced in this
series. Colors on Illinois plates from 1955 to 1961 were to
represent different colleges in the state.
Purple over White for Quincy College
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.

Embossed thin steel. Colors on Illinois plates from 1955 to
1961 were to represent different colleges in the state.
White over Brown for Wheaton College.

Picture courtesy of the Illinois State Police

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967) utilized
M-prefixed (Municipal government) plates usually in the
M 10 000 bloc thru 1959, however some period photos from
1940 to 1960 have shown numbers as low as in the M 7000's
and as high as the M 11 000s on their marked patrol vehicles.

Embossed thin steel. Colors on Illinois plates from 1955 to
1961 were to represent different colleges in the state.
Orange over Dark blue for Augustana College.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
were issued state government U prefixed plates.
19 ILLINOIS 61 U #### LAND OF LINCOLN.
No confirmed number bloc known, but period photographs
show numbers ranging from the U 9000's to the U 10000's
on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel Colors on Illinois
plates from 1955 to 1961 were to represent different colleges.
White over Red for North Central College.

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
were issued state government U prefixed plates as this one.
No confirmed number bloc known, but period photographs
show numbers ranging from the U 9000's to the U 10000's
on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel.
White over Orange

We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?


The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
were issued state government U prefixed plates as this one.
No confirmed number bloc known, but period photographs
show numbers ranging from the U 9000's to the U 10000's
on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel.
Yellow over Green- These colors commemorated the
125th Anniversary of John Deere Company
which is based in Illinois.

Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?


The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
were issued state government U prefixed plates .
LAND OF LINCOLN U #### 19 ILLINOIS 64.
No confirmed number bloc known, but period photographs
show numbers ranging from the U 9000's to the U 10000's
on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel.
White over Lavender.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
were issued state government U prefixed plates as this one.
No confirmed number bloc known, but period photographs
show numbers ranging from the U 9000's to the U 10000's
on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel.
Green over White.


Picture courtesy of Robert Ward


The Illinois State Highway Police
(as it was officially known from 1949 until 1967)
were issued state government U prefixed plates as this one.
No confirmed number bloc known, but period photographs
show numbers ranging from the U 9000's to the U 10000's
on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel.
First year for reflective plates.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

Illinois State Police were issued state government U prefixed plates as this one. No confirmed number bloc known, but
period photographs show numbers ranging from the U 9000's
to the U 10000's on ISP patrol cars. Embossed thin steel.
Black over reflective white.
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?
1968 saw the introduction of agency-specific plates for the Illinois State Police. Not only were the license plates titled with the words STATE POLICE, but they were also prefixed by the District number or Designation letter to which the vehicle was assigned. This was also the year that aluminum was briefly reintroduced to Illinois plates, only to return to thin steel again in 1970. The plates were issued for 2 years of service before the permanent plates commenced issuance in 1982. The duration of usage, coupled with harsh climate, salted roads in Winter time,and rough duty driving caused most of these already fragile plates to look like they've been to hell and back, so to find presentable and displayable surviving specimens can be trying.
Designation Letters were as follows:
A= Administration
B= Equipment (Quartermaster)
D= District Command Personnel
E= Executive Security (Governors' Detail)
O= Air Operations
R= Radio/Communications
S= Information/Education (Safety Officers)
T= Training Academy
V= Auto Theft Investigators (Vehicle Theft)
 
District numbers indicate dedicated patrol vehicles for the given district. These district numbers are on the left of the hyphen, and the car number is to the right. The lower the car number, the higher the rank of the assigned officer (usually). In order to avoid confusion with radio 10-codes, District 10 (Pesotum) patrol vehicles are prefixed by the letter X instead of the number 10. Hence,Pesotum District car 30 would broadcast as "X-ray 3-0" as opposed to "10-30" which would indicate the radio code for an emergency.
The other District Numbers are as follow:
1= Sterling (covers Carroll, Ogle, Lee and Whiteside counties)
2= Elgin (covers Kane, McHenry, DeKalb, Lake and DuPage counties)
3= Des Plaines (Now Chicago/Cook County area)
4= Blue Island (Now Chicago/Cook County area)
5= Joliet (covers Will, Grundy and? Kendall counties)
6= Pontiac (covers McLean, Livingston and DeWitt counties)
7= Rock Island (Renamed East Moline District and covers Rock Island, Henry, Mercer and Knox counties)
8= Peoria (covers Peoria, Marshall, Woodford, Stark and Tazewell counties)
9= Springfield (covers Christian, Sangammon, Morgan, Cass, Mason, Menard and Logan counties)
10 (X)= Pesotum (covers Champaign, Vermillion, Edgar, Douglas, Coles, Shelby, Moultie, Macon and Platt counties)
11= Maryville (Renamed Collinsville and covers Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair and Monroe counties)
12= Effingham (including South Central Illinois Drug Task Force covers Effingham, Fayette, Marion, Clay, Richland,         Lawrence, Jasper, Crawford, Clark and Cumberland counties)
13= DuQuoin (covers Franklin, Jefferson, Jackson, Washington, Randolph, Perry, and Williamson counties)
14=Macomb (covers McDonough, Fulton, Warren,Henderson,and Hancock counties)
15= Oak Brook (Renamed Tollway- ( based in Downers Grove)
16= Pecatonica (Renamed Rockford-covers Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson and Jo Daviess counties)
17= Lasalle (covers Lasalle, Bureau and Putnam counties)
18= Litchfield (covers Montgomery, Macoupin, Jersey, Greene and Calhoun counties)
19= Carmi (covers Wabash, White, Gallatin, Saline, Hamilton,Wayne and Edwards counties)
20= Pittsfield (covers Adams, Schuyler, Brown,Pike and Scott counties)
21= Ashkum (covers Kankakee, Ford and Iroquois counties)
22= Ullin (covers Union, Pope, Pulaski, Alexander, Johnson,Massac, Hardin counties)
25= Tactical Response Team

First year for State Police "titled" license plates for the ISP- District 2 (Elgin) Car 54 (where are you?). Received this plate personally from the Officer this plate was assigned to, Retired Trooper Ron Kokes. Plate was fastened to the front of his marked 1966 Chevy Big Block that he and his partner, Trooper Mike Bly called their home and office away from the
home and office for 2 years.
(Collecting this stuff doesn't get much better than this!)
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1970-1971 issue- District 7 (Rock Island) Car 7

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this type plate on duty....
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1972-1973 issue- District 7 (Rock Island) Car 8

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1974-1975 issue- District 4 (Blue Island)- Car 21
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1974-1975 issue- X = District 10
so as to not confuse car numbers with radio 10-Codes
(Pesotum) - Car 2 Deputy Post Commander
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this type plate on duty....
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1976-1977 issue- District 25
(Criminal Investigation Bureau) Car 97
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this type plate on duty....
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1976-1977 issue- E= Executive Security
(Governor's Security Detail)
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this type plate on duty....
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1976-1977 issue- Sample license plate. Always used
four dashes where numerals would go.
 

1978-1979 issue- District 3 (Des Plaines) Car 4
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this type plate on duty....
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1980-1981 issue- District 13 (DuQuoin)
Car 3 (Commissioned Officer)
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this type plate on duty....
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In January of 1982, an aluminum "permanent" plate was introduced for ISP marked patrol vehicles. This eliminated the need for bi-annual plates and having to replate every two years. These plates can be differentiated from the more contemporary issues by the thin slim dies used for the numerals, the softer, rounder dies for the state name and the letter P (Permanent) The later issues that were introduced in the Fall of 1987 were made of steel .

1982-1987 issue- District 13 (DuQuoin) Car 23.
This is the early issue "Permanent" plate which
featured the rounder, softer dies as seen on the state name,
and made of embossed aluminum.
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this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1987 issue- District 5 (Joliet) Car 36. Same as the 1982-1987 "Permanent" issue, however made of embossed steel using same rounder, softer dies on state name.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein
The more current versions of the steel permanent plate use a squarer die on the state name as can be seen by the font used on the letters "O" (not as oval as previous issue) and S (stiffer shape compared to the previous issue).

1987-Current issue- District 19 (Carmi) Car 20. Same as previous two "Permanent" issues, however has a more squared die for the state name which can be noticed by the letter "O" and "S" in ILLINOIS. Embossed galvanized steel.
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this type plate on duty....
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Illinois State Police Golden Eagle plates were part of an
ISP program in the late 80's & early 90's which
recognized road Troopers for stolen vehicle recoveries.
Troopers were awarded "stars" which were affixed to
their car for recoveries. After 5 stars the "golden eagle"
was affixed to their car. The Trooper with the most
recoveries statewide in a calender year were awarded
the plates which were displayed for one year.
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this type plate on duty....
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National Troopers Coalition Plate

Picture courtesy of Bill Ceravola

Vanity passenger plate
 
Illinois State Police Motorcycle Plates

It is believed that when ISP motorcycles were in service in the early days, they were issued low-numbered civilian m/c plates. However, the attestation of an Illinois resident and license plate collector at the time noted that in the 1940's, the ISP ran 4-digit civilian m/c plates, which would indicate that the state police may have obtained HIGHER numbers for their motorcycles instead of the lower numbers.

More recently, the ISP have issued titled motorcycle plates which are a smaller version of the car plate identical in layout: LAND OF LINCOLN (embossed)

MP # ILLINOIS P (also embossed) and flanked by STATE and POLICE worded vertically in silkscreen down the left and right side of the plate respectively. MP is the designation for Motor Patrol


Picture courtesy of Dennis Tucker,
Fleet and Property Manager, Illinois State Police.
We are searching for one of these for our private collection.
If you can help, please click on the e-mail button
and contact Coop.