Maryland State Police

After World War I, the need for statewide enforcement of criminal law became critical as the proliferation of the motor car became significant, and general lawlessness throughout the state was in need of broad control. The Governor of the state, the Police Commissioner of Baltimore City, and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles came up with a plan for a State Police Force under the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Former servicemen were recruited and the first training camp was conducted early in 1921.

By 1922, the force of motorcycle deputies had statewide jurisdiction over criminal cases through deputization by the county sheriffs. The force was supported by a plainclothes investigative department and was known as the State Police Force.

In 1935, the Maryland State Police was established as a separate unit of State government. 54 new officers were sworn in. The new agency was funded out of revenues from the Department of Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. It was granted additional statewide police powers to enforce fish, oyster, game and other conservation laws and maintain a training school. In 1960, the MSP Aviation Division commenced operation with one helicopter. A 10 man Dive Team was also formed that year.

In 1961, a K-9 Team was implemented, and is one of the oldest and continuous Dog Handler programs of any state police agency in the U.S. The Maryland State Police were made part of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in 1970. Shortly thereafter, in a cost saving and safety initiative, the MSP did away with the distinctive black and deep green patrol cars in favor of yellow color scheme. The old color scheme had been in use since the first days in 1935 and was missed by many a Trooper!

In 1978, the Special Tactical Assault Element Team was formed. In 1984, the yellow MSP patrol vehicles were replaced by a tan color scheme with a brown and black stripe. That same year, rooftop bubble lights were replaced by red and blue light bars. Around this same time, MSP reintroduced the use of patrol motorcycles after a 35 year absence.

In 1994, the Department of Maryland State Police was formed as a principal executive department. It was renamed the Department of State Police in 1995. It was in that year that the MSP went back to the black and deep green color scheme for it's patrol vehicles. The Department of State Police enforces state motor vehicle and criminal laws and safeguards the lives and safety of all persons within the State. The Department protects property and assists all persons to secure the equal protection of law. The Department also preserves the public peace; detects and prevents crime; and enforces the laws and ordinances of the State and its local subdivisions. It apprehends and arrests criminals and lawbreakers, and preserves order in public places. In addition, the Department maintains the safe, orderly flow of traffic on public streets and highways and cooperates with and assists other law enforcement agencies.

The Department of State Police has statewide jurisdiction except in incorporated municipalities. Within municipalities the Department may exercise jurisdiction under certain conditions, as regulated by statute. The Department also enforces the laws relating to controlled dangerous substances (narcotics) throughout the State with no jurisdictional limitations. As of this writing, 39 Maryland State Police officers have given their lives in service to their state since 1935.

Maryland State Flag

The Maryland flag contains the family crest of the
Calvert and Crossland families. Maryland was founded as an
English colony in 1634 by Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore.
The black and Gold designs belong to the Calvert family.
The red and white design belongs to the Crossland family.

A very early CMV example
Courtesy of the Jon Olivarri collection

1935 issue "Transitional" CMV/State Police.
Notice the drilled holes so that this auto size issue
can be used on a motorcycle!

Courtesy of the Jon Olivarri collection
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Circa 1935
Earlier issue with corner mounting holes.
(Approx. 6"x15")


Picture courtesy of Norman Rhoades


Circa 1935
Earlier issue with corner mounting holes and wide set slots.
(Approx. 6"x15")

Courtesy of the Jon Olivarri collection
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Circa 1936 - 1955
Later issue. No corner mounting holes
(Approx. 6"x15")


Picture courtesy of the Maryland State Police

Circa 1956-circa 1963 issue- Headquarters plate

Courtesy of the Jon Olivarri collection

Circa 1956-circa 1963 issue- Troop A plate


Picture courtesy of the Maryland State Police


Circa 1956-circa 1963 issue- Issued concurrent to MSP plates with TROOP and HEADQUARTERS on the base line. Darker shade of orange but made with same slotted blanks and dies. This plate was stated to have been issued to a Major with the MSP in the late 1950's/early 1960's
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1950's Test prototypes used to experiment with flat
reflective surfaces. Never adopted into full production.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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1964-1969 issue- D= Bel Air Barracks Car 49. Embossed steel-Deep orange- 4 short mounting slots. Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades took place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to which variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to get a rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these pre-1985 MSP plates were used concurrent with each other during that period.

Courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1970-1984 issue- A= Waterloo Barracks Car 1. Embossed steel- Deep orange- 4 round mounting holes. Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades took place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to which variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to get a rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these pre-1985 MSP plates were used concurrent with each other
during that period.


Picture courtesy of the Maryland State Police


1970-1984 issue-K9= Dog Handler Car 13. Embossed steel-Deep orange- 4 round mounting holes. Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades took place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to which variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to get a rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these pre-1985 MSP plates were used concurrent with each other during that period.
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1970-1984 issue
Embossed steel-Deep orange- 4 round mounting holes.
TAC=Tactical Team Car 17
Plate courtesy of the Bill Ceravola Collection
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1970-1984 issue- F= North East Barracks Car 35.
This plate is similar in die type and layout with the exception
that this version uses mounting slots as opposed to holes.

Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades took
place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to which
variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to get a
rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these pre-1985
MSP plates were used concurrent with each
other during that period.
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this type plate on duty....
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1970-1984 issue-F= North East Barracks Car 61. Embossed thinner metal-Mustard yellow- 4 round mounting holes. Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades took place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to which variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to get a rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these pre-1985 MSP plates were used concurrent with each other
during that period.
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this type plate on duty....
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1970-1984 issue- F= North East Barracks Car 30. This plate
is similar to the F-61 plate, however with much taller dies for
Barracks letter and number.
Many variations in material,
dies, and paint shades took place during this period, and
there is uncertainty as to which variation came first, so I have
to rely on old photos to get a rough idea. One must bear in
mind, that all these pre-1985 MSP plates were used
concurrent with each other during that period.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1970-1984 issue- F= North East Barracks Car 56.
This plate features smaller dies for state name and STATE
POLICE.
Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades
took place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to
which variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to
get a rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these
pre-1985 MSP plates were used concurrent with each
other during that period.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1970-1984 issue-K9= Dog Handler Car 20. Embossed thinner metal- Mustard yellow- 4 slotted mounting holes. Many variations in material, dies, and paint shades took place during this period, and there is uncertainty as to which variation came first, so I have to rely on old photos to get a rough idea. One must bear in mind, that all these pre-1985 MSP plates were used concurrent with each other
during that period.

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this type plate on duty....
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1981 Special Project License Plate (SPLP) Test plate.
Only known survivor of twenty four experimental plastic
plates (12 sets) tested by MSP that year to determine
suitability and durability for permanent plastic license
plates to replace metal/aluminum types used for 5 year
intervals. The remaining 23 plates are stated to have been
destroyed upon removal from the test vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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this type plate on duty....
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1984 issue-
Superintendent/Colonel of Maryland State Police.
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1985-1990's 50th Anniversary issue- Headquarters plate.
Silkscreened
galvanized steel. Although 50th Anniversary
plates were only issued for 1985, their usage continued
into the early 1990's until vehicles became miled-out.
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1985-1990's 50th Anniversary issue- K9=Dog Handler Car 20. Silkscreened aluminum. Although 50th Anniversary plates were only issued for 1985, their usage continued into the early 1990's until vehicles became miled-out.
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1986-1990's issue- K9=Dog Handler Car 4.
Silkscreened
galvanized steel.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1986-1990's issue- TAC=Tactical Team Car 9.
Silkscreened
galvanized steel.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1986-1990's issue- BWI=Baltimore Washington International Airport Car 3. Silkscreened galvanized steel.
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1986-1990's issue-
CV=Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Car 32.
Silkscreened
galvanized steel.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1986-1990's issue-
AV=Aviation Unit, Car 69.
Silkscreened galvanized steel.
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Early 1990's "State Highway Administration" issue.
Apparently used on miled-out cream & brown-colored
marked MSP patrol cars for parking at highway road work
sites to slow traffic down in these zones. These older MSP
marked cars were assigned to the SHA maintenance shops
and then strategically positioned on highway shoulders and medians at road work sites most times with emergency lights
activated. It has been stated that SHA personnel were
responsible for the operation, placement and return of the
SHA/MSP patrol cars at the end of the project. The unmanned
SHA/MSP patrol car arrangement was discontinued by 1994
after complaints from the public that MSP patrol cars in these
locations appeared abandoned and troopers were not present
to provide enforcement or assistance when needed.
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Troop K: "Security" Barracks.
Governor's Security Detail -Commander's tag
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1986-1990's.
Command 2 . For second Mobile Command Unit

Courtesy of Robert Ward
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1986-1990's.
Mobile 2

Courtesy of Robert Ward

Mobile Unit Jeep
Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

1995 issue- Headquarters plate. Embossed galvanized steel with unpainted step border. Small number die. Rarely seen issue, and no others have been seen seen in my travels or photographs, so I'm not sure if this version was even released. Has circular holograms that read MD 95 vertically down center of sheeting. Would love a photo of one of these "in service" on a period MSP vehicle.
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1997-Current issue. Headquarters plate. Embossed galvanized steel with painted embossed border. Has circular holograms that read MD 97 vertically down center of sheeting.

1997-Current issue. K9=Dog Handler Car 33. Embossed galvanized steel with painted embossed border. Has circular holograms that read MD 97 vertically down center of sheeting. Plate tilted in photo to show holograms.

1997-Current issue.
Embossed galvanized steel with painted embossed border.

CV=Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Car 79.

1997-Current issue.
Embossed galvanized steel with painted embossed border.

Strike Force Commander's plate.
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1997-Current issue.
Embossed galvanized steel with painted embossed border.

This is only one of ten made' ICE 1 - ICE 10. They were
issued to the original ten members of the Maryland State
Police ICE Team (Interstate Criminal Enforcement) that
existed from 2003-2004. the unit has since been renamed
the PACE team (Pro-Active Criminal Enforcement).
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this type plate on duty....
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1990's-Current issue- Chaplain dash/visor plate
(Approx 4"x8")
Courtesy of Bob Speed- Baltimore County Police - Ret.
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1990's-Current issue- Chaplain dash/visor plate
(Approx 4"x8")
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this type plate on duty....
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Pre-1956 embossed steel plate used by the
Physician of the MSP.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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this type plate on duty....
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1960's-Early 70's "Add-on" attachment. Approx 5"x 12"
embossed steel. Usually attached to lower bolt-holes of
regular-issue MSP plate. Appears to have originally been
black over orange, however seems that orange paint flaked-
away easily to reveal a straw/cream colored background.
Used prior to K-9 prefixed plates issued in 1970's as seen by
plate # K9-13 on this page.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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this type plate on duty....
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1970's embossed steel attachment- Approx. 4"x 12".
Used on personal vehicles of concerned citizens with
mobile Citizens' Band radios to advise MSP of disabled
motorists or other highway emergencies. Unknown how
long this type of plate/service was utilized.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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this type plate on duty....
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Exact date and use unknown, but guessed for 1960's perhaps as a dash plate for the parking of unmarked patrol vehicle (Approx 4"x8")
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Exact date and use unknown, but guessed early
for 1980's perhaps as a dash plate or motorcycle plate
(Approx 4"x8")
Plate courtesy of the Bill Ceravola Collection

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Exact date unknown, but perhaps 1990's
Used as a dash plate (Approx 4"x8")
Plate courtesy of the Bill Ceravola Collection
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Can't recall which year, but this is a National Troopers Coalition convention souvenir plate when both the Maryland State Police and Delaware State Police co-hosted the event.
 

1988 CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) conference souvenir motorcycle plate from the year that Maryland hosted the national conference.

c.1921-1935 Maryland Commissioner of Motor Vehicles
Motorcycle issue. Approx. 4.5"x10" embossed steel.
The CMV was the forerunner to the Maryland State
Police during this time.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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this type plate on duty....
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1935 issue "Transitional" CMV/State Police motorcycle plate.
Note the rare blocky font to the dies
Courtesy of the Jon Olivarri collection

1935 issue "Transitional" CMV/State Police Motorcycle issue.
There had been some plates issued prior to the MSP's official
formation in 1935 with the words "STATE POLICE" of
which this may have been one, but it can be certain that at
the very least, this plate was used for 1935 and into the first
few years of the MSP before the redundancy of the
CMV prefix was removed.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED
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this type plate on duty....
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Motorcycle plate - Circa mid 1930's to late 1950's



Picture courtesy of the Maryland State Police

Post 1935 issue MSP motorcycle plate with same assignment
number as transitional CMV/SP plate pictured above.

Photo courtesy of Sergeant Eric Harbold RETIRED
and Sergeant Harold Harbold RETIRED

Picture courtesy of the Maryland State Police

Circa 1936 - 1955 Motorcycle plate
Courtesy of the Jon Olivarri collection
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Motorcycle plate -
1970-1984
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Motorcycle plate - 1985-1996

#700 block series
- No "State Police" script along bottom
Courtesy of Bob Speed- Baltimore County Police - Ret.
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Motorcycle plate - 1985-1996
Fine example of the short lived #700 block series
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Motorcycle plate - 1985-1996
Baltimore Washington INTL Airport Troop
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Motorcycle plate - 1985-1996
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Motorcycle plate
1996 - Current issue



Picture courtesy of TFC Dennis Deal
Maryland State Police (Ret)

Mobile Command center

Award license plate given to the
2001 Trooper of the Year
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Exact date unknown, but perhaps 1990's
Private vehicle use plate for retired Maryland Troopers
Plate courtesy of the Bill Ceravola Collection

Current issue
Private vehicle use plate for retired Maryland Troopers

Picture courtesy of Bill Ceravola
 

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

Current Issue
Flat, all screened


Dive Team Vehicle-"Scuba 1" plate
Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

While not an actual "license plate"- Still a "plate related
state issue" specimen used by Maryland State Police.
VASCAR stands for Visual Average Speed Computer and
Recorder. An alternative to standard Radar or Lidar,
VASCAR is a way of measuring the speed of a motor vehicle
using fixed landmarks. Speed calculation is done by dividing
the distance between two markers by the time the target vehicle
takes to travel between the markers. Typically conducted with
a stopwatch and a calculator. Once a distance is entered, the
operator pushes a button to start then stop the stopwatch.
VASCAR displays the speed calculated from the distance
entered and the time measured. These markers were affixed
at certain points on Maryland highways by the State Highway
Administration for use by Maryland State Police for traffic
speed enforcement. Measures 6" x 10"- Honeycomb reflective
material over rigid aluminum.