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The New York State Police was founded on April 11, 1917 in response to an outcry from a lack of policing in rural areas of the state. The first of the original 237 officers and men began training at a National Guard Camp in Manlius, New York.

The NYSP's first Superintendent George F.Chandler M.D., christened the training facility Camp Newayo, in honor of Ms. Newell and Ms. Mayo, the two Westchester County women who advocated so ardently and are credited for the impetus to form the NYSP. Although established initially as a mounted police force, the State Police quickly realized the value of the automobile.

In 1918 they added Model T Fords to their equipment and also purchased three motorcycles per Troop. Enforcement of vehicle and traffic laws became an increasingly important part of the Troopers' duties. Troopers gradually assumed more responsibility for vehicle and traffic safety, taking over all motor vehicle enforcement from the Motor Vehicle Bureau in 1926. Seventeen men were added to each Troop because of the new duties, bringing the authorized strength to 584, more than double the original complement.

In 1928, the State Police began policing the parks and parkways on Long Island for the first time, the beginning of what came to be informally known as "Troop L." The number of automobiles and motorcycles also increased and, in 1929, 112 Troopers on motorcycles were assigned full time to traffic enforcement duty. During the 1930s vehicle and traffic enforcement became an increasingly important part of the Troopers' duties.

In 1937, the first Traffic Bureau was established. It was in 1937, too, that the first formal course in Vehicle and Traffic enforcement was included in the curriculum of the State Police School. Although mounted patrols would continue throughout the decade, the number of miles covered on horseback would steadily decline and, in 1935, would fall below 50,000 miles for the first time in the History of the Division. In 1934, the first Diving Unit was established, and a Truck and Bus Squad was created to enforce commercial vehicle laws and check for overloaded trucks.

The end of World War II and the resurgence of highway traffic tolled the death knell for one of the oldest State Police traditions, as well. Mounted patrol miles had declined steadily throughout the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1947, only 2,115 miles were patrolled on horseback, less than 1/100th of the number 30 years before. In 1948, for the first time in its History, the New York State Police did not report any mounted patrols. Another major change was the opening, in 1954, of the New York State Thruway.

The New York State Police assumed sole responsibility for policing the Thruway and its authorized strength was increased from 899 to 1201 members in 1953 in order to provide the additional Thruway patrols. Troop cars also got a new look. In 1955 the gray patrol cars were replaced by new black and whites. In the same year patrol cars on the Thruway were painted blue and cream and, for the first time, had sirens and flashing red lights installed on the roof.

Three new Troops were authorized. The Thruway Detail was officially designated Troop T in 1961. In 1967, Troop E began operating from its new headquarters in Canandaigua, and Troop F began operations the following year. On January 1, 1980, the New York State Police took over responsibility for policing the Long Island Parkway and three shorter parkways upstate. The Parkway Police who were providing these services were absorbed into the New York State Police. Troop L Headquarters relocated from Islip Terrace to a new Headquarters Facility in Farmingdale.

In addition to direct police services, the New York State Police developed a wide range of sophisticated investigative and support services during the 1980s that are available to law enforcement agencies across the State to assist them in their police activities. These include Violent Criminal Investigative Services, computerized databases and analyses, forensic laboratory services, access to specialists in forensic sciences, mobile response teams and training. These are provided in addition to services established in earlier decades such as Hazardous Materials Specialists, Canine Units, Aviation and divers.

The New York State Police continues its tradition of cooperating with, assisting and supporting local and county law enforcement agencies across the Empire State.




License Plates of the New York State Police



Early photographs from the formation of the NYSP indicate that what few cars they had, all used the standard New York passenger car license plates in the 123-123 numbering format.
Of particular interest though, is a photograph from 1920 seen further below, which shows what appears to be a flat-painted license plate-sized sign with the words N.Y. STATE over POLICE hung on the radiator of a NYSP open touring car. This "sign plate" was used in addition to a standard contemporary New York passenger license plate. It is not believed that these titled signs were a general issue as other patrol cars seen in the same photograph only bear the regular passenger license plates as seen in other such photos from the same time period. Either way, this titled NY STATE POLICE "sign plate" is the earliest example (so far) of an agency-specific "license plate" used by a state law enforcement agency anywhere in the USA.

The evidence gathered thusfar indicates that there were no special reserved series license plates for the NYSP until at least 1924. The "sign plate" was dropped until the mid to late 1930's where a similar sign plate was used in conjunction with the reserved series passenger plates as seen in the 1937 on-duty photo shown further down below. These special worded title sign plates were confirmed in use at Troop K's Fishkill Post, but it is unknown if they were in use elsewhere in the state at that time.
Confirmed license plate numbers used by the NYSP for 1920 besides the ones seen below are, 675-327, 730-145, 730-501 and 730-844.



New York license plate image
1917
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
Passenger series. Embossed steel.
6" x 16 1/8"
White over olive green
New York license plate image
Passenger series. Embossed steel.
6" x 16 1/8"
White over maroon
New York license plate image
Passenger series. Embossed steel.
6" x 16 1/8"
White over black


New York license plate image
Circa 1917-1920's NYSP "sign plate". White and green porcelain enamel over steel. Measuring approximately 6 " x 15".
(Courtesy Gene Haumann)


New York license plate image
1920. Car in center displays "N.Y. STATE POLICE" sign plate on radiator. This is the earliest known "state police license plate" anywhere in the USA. Note that the other NYSP cars in the photo do not have the NYSP sign plate affixed. Thus it can be determined that these sign plates were not a general issue throughout the NYSP.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1921. Lt. George Homer Harrison
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
Passenger series. Embossed steel.
6" x 16 1/8"
White over pale green
New York license plate image
Passenger series. Embossed steel.
6" x 16 1/8"
White over midnight blue
New York license plate image
Passenger series. Embossed steel.
6" x 16 1/8"
White over emerald green


New York license plate image
1920. Use of six-digit, all-numeric passenger license plates.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


Although it is not known for certain, it is believed that random-numbered, mostly six-digit passenger license plates were used for one more year in 1923 on NYSP motor cars. The size was still the same as the previous issues but N.Y. 1923 was situated at the top center of the plate. The color scheme was white over purple.
Newly-obtained photographic evidence provided by Retired NYSP Sgt Kevin Enser shows that as early as 1924, the NYSP began using "Reserved Series" license plates for their patrol cars. The plates bore the same size, color and format as the contemporary passenger car plates, however the low numbered series license plates were desired by both elected state officials and other influential elites within the state. License plates from number 1 to 2500 fell within this "Reserved Series" and were only to be issued to individuals or groups with "clout" in the state.
The New York State Police were able to get such low license plate numbers and Troop A (Batavia) was issued plates in the 900 series. The 1924 photo as seen below is the earliest proof that these reserved number plates were used, showing plate number 932 on what would be a 1924 New York license plate colored white over French gray. Unfortunately, officer Tryon at the right hand side of the photo is standing directly in front of the other car facing the camera, thus obscuring the plate from view.
These 900 series plates do not appear hyphenated on the 1924 base, however subsequent years show a hyphen between the 9 and the latter two numbers.



New York license plate image
1924-First use of reserved series numbers for NYSP cars in the 900 series. White over French gray.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


The 1925 photo seen below shows the same license number (932) as seen in the 1924 photo above, however this issue shows the use of the hyphen between the 9 and 32. This formatting for NYSP reserved numbers continued for the next 30 years, covering numbers in the 9-##, 10-##, 11-##, 12-## etc...series.



New York license plate image
1925 issue- Black over yellow. Showing hyphenated 900 series plate used by NYSP at the time.
F/Sgt. Brandstetter and colleagues.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1926 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 1/8" x 16" with N.Y. 1926 embossed at bottom center and colored white over dark blue. Reserved number in the 9-## series.



New York license plate image
1927 issue- Black over deep yellow.
Trooper James T. Linehan- Webster NY
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1928 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 1/8" x 16" with NY 28 embossed at bottom center and colored deep yellow over black. Reserved number in the 9-## series.



New York license plate image
1929 issue seen at far left (976). Embossed steel measuring 6 3/8" x 13 1/2" with NY-29 embossed at bottom center and number in the 9## series (appears that there is no dash) and possibly commenced the 10-## series elsewhere in the state by this time.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1930 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2" with NY 30 embossed at top center and colored deep yellow over black. Reserved number in the 9-## and 10-## series.



  • New York license plate image1931 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/8" x 13 1/2".
    Black over deep yellow.
    Number in 9- ##, 10-## and 11-## series.
  • looking image

New York license plate image
1931 issue- Black over deep yellow in 11-## series.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1932 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 3/8" x 13 5/8" with NY 32 embossed at top center and colored deep yellow over black. Reserved number in the 9 ##, 10-## and 11-## series.



New York license plate image
1933 issue- Black over deep yellow in 11-## series.
Photo taken during 1933 Milk Strike.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1933- Truck Inspection.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1934 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 3/8" x 13 5/8" with NY 34 embossed at bottom center and colored deep yellow over black. Reserved number in the 9-##, 10-## and 11-## series.



  • New York license plate image1934 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2".
    Deep yellow over black.
    Number in 9-##, 10-## and 11-## series.
  • looking image
  • New York license plate image1935 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2".
    Black over deep yellow.
    Number in 9-##, 10-## and 11-## series.
  • New York license plate image

New York license plate image
1935- Farmersville NY.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1936 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2" with NY 36 embossed at top center and colored deep yellow over black. Reserved number in the 9-##, 10-## and 11-## series.



  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate imageblabla

1937 NYSP license plates were made of embossed steel measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2" with NY 37 embossed at top center and colored black over deep yellow. Reserved number in the 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-## series.
As seen in photo above at left, a titled STATE POLICE plate with light characters over a dark background was also used, but likely not a force-wide issue.



New York license plate image
July 25 1937-Walter Erickson and Thomas Woods at Troop L (Northern State Parkway Barracks).
Adjusting "fish pole antenna" on one of the first all-white NYSP Troop cars.


New York license plate image
1937- with John Millman and Walt Crusen
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


In 1938, the Empire State was preparing to host the World's Fair Exposition which was to take place in New York City the following year. In anticipation of this important event, New York state issued their first "slogan" license plate announcing the upcoming occasion.
The license plates were once again made of embossed steel and measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". The paint scheme was deep yellow over black. The top center of the plate had N.Y. 38 embossed. Along the entire bottom span of the plate, just above the mounting holes was embossed NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939. NYSP numbers were still allotted the reserved number series 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-##.



New York license plate image
1938. Deep yellow over black "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939" along bottom of plate.
(Courtesy Norman Rhoades)


New York license plate image
1938. Deep yellow over black "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939" along bottom of plate.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1938. Deep yellow over black "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939" along bottom of plate.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


1939 ushered in the New York's hosting year for the World's Fair. As a result, the promotion of the event continued on Empire State license plates for the year.
The license plates were once again made of embossed steel and measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". The paint scheme was black over deep yellow. The top center of the plate had NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939 embossed just below the upper mounting holes. NYSP numbers were still allotted the reserved number series 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-##.



New York license plate image
1939. Black over deep yellow. "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939" along top of plate.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1939. Black over deep yellow. "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939" along top of plate.
Note car at far left with a STATE POLICE title plate by the right fender.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


The highly-successful 1939 New York World's Fair ran a second Summer of events in 1940 and thus the promotion of the Fair continued on New York's 1940 license plates as well.
The license plates were once again made of embossed steel and measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". The paint scheme was deep yellow over black. Along the entire bottom span of the plate, just above the mounting holes was embossed NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1940. NYSP numbers were still allotted the reserved number series 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-##.



New York license plate image
1940. Deep yellow over black. "NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1940" along bottom of plate.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


In 1941, New York license plates went back to being subdued and non-descript.
The license plates were once again made of embossed steel and measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". The paint scheme was black over deep yellow. NY 41 was embossed at the bottom center of the plate. NYSP numbers were still allotted the reserved number series 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-##.



New York license plate image
1941. Black over deep yellow.
(Courtesy Al Kurek)


  • New York license plate image1942 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2".
    Deep yellow over black.
    Reserved number in the 9- ##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-## series.
  • looking image

As America's role in the Second World War continued on, the need to conserve metal was a large undertaking to assist in the War Effort. As a result, no full-sized license plates were made or issued in New York for the year 1943.
Instead, a 1 5/8" x 10" embossed steel strip with only NY 43 embossed in black over deep yellow was issued to be placed over the top portion of the 1942 license plate to show validation for 1943.



New York license plate

In 1944, black over deep yellow license plates were issued, many of them being struck on unissued 1942 base plates. These can be seen where the last 4 of 44 can be seen struck over the flattened 2 of 42. These plates were the measurement as the 1942 issue and still used the reserved 9, 10, 11 and 12-## series for NYSP use.
The next several years saw the same alternation of colors and formats between yellow plates for even years and black plates for odd years and NYSP numbers in the 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-## series:

1945: Embossed steel. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". Deep yellow over black. NY 45 in top center.
1946: Embossed steel. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". Black over deep yellow. NY 46 in bottom center.
1947: Embossed steel. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". Deep yellow over black. NY 47 in bottom center.



  • New York license plate image1948 issue. Embossed steel. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2".
    Black over deep yellow.

    (Courtesy Kevin Kailbourne)
  • New York license plate image

New York license plate image
1948 in 12-## series.

In 1949, The USA was embroiled in a military deployment to Korea and once again was faced with an effort towards metal conservation. As a result, no full-size license plates were issued that year in New York. Instead, a 1 5/8" x 3 1/4" embossed steel tab was issued to validate the 1948 license plate. The deep yellow over black metal tab was affixed over the top corner of the plate.


New York license plate image

  • New York license plate image1950 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2".
    Deep yellow over black.
    Reserved number in the 9- ##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-## series.

    Courtesy Jim Schaller
  • looking image


In 1951, New York unveiled the slogan THE EMPIRE STATE for the first time on its license plates. The plates were still made of embossed steel and measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". The color scheme was black over deep yellow. Along the entire lower span of the plate just above the lower mounting holes was NY-THE EMPIRE STATE-51.
NYSP numbers were still allotted the reserved number series 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-##.
These plates were validated for 1952 with a validation tab. The embossed metal tab measuring 2" x 2 1/2" had 52 painted in deep yellow over a black background.



New York license plate image
1951 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 1/4" x 13 1/2".
Black over deep yellow. NY THE EMPIRE STATE 51 along bottom margin.
Reserved number in the 9- ##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-## series.
(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)


New York license plate image


New York license plate image
1951-1952 issue. Deep yellow over black. NY-THE EMPIRE STATE-51 along bottom of plate.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1951-1952 issue. Deep yellow over black. NY-THE EMPIRE STATE-51 along bottom of plate.
Showing M.D. Gavin and Joe Strunk out of A Troop in Batavia NY- 1952
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


In 1953, the exact same format and layout was used but with the colors reversed to deep yellow over black and NY-THE EMPIRE STATE-53 along the bottom.
It was around this time when other reserved numbers were seen used, including some in the 20-## and 30-## series. There is no information to date as to what those other number blocs were and if there were any other used.
These license plates were validated for 1954 with a validation tab. The embossed metal tab measuring 2" x 2 1/2" had 54 painted in black over a deep yellow background.



New York license plate image


New York license plate image
1955 NYSP Ford--Calibrating speedometer
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1955 NYSP Ford
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
1955 NYSP Ford showing use of a standard passenger car license plate number.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


In 1955, New York issued new full-sized license plates again. They were identical to the 1951 plates but this time the state, slogan and year spanned the top of the plate instead of the bottom.
The plates were still made of embossed steel and measuring 6 1/4" x 13 1/2". The color scheme was black over deep yellow. Along the entire upper span of the plate just below the mounting holes was NY-THE EMPIRE STATE-55.
NYSP numbers were still allotted the reserved number series 9-##, 10-##, 11-## and 12-##, however lead pair of numbers on some plates were also seen in the 20, 30, 40 and 50 number blocs.
These plates were validated for 1956 with a validation tab. The embossed metal tab measuring 2" x 2 1/2" had 52 painted in deep yellow over a black background.
The photo seen below taken in the Spring of 1956 shows an NYSP patrol car with number 54-54 on the 1956 license plate.



New York license plate image



New York license plate image
1956. NYSP patrol car with plate # 54-54.

1957 was a watershed year for how NYSP registered their patrol cars. Gone were the special reserved-number passenger license plates and in came a special agency-specific type.
In 1956, all of North America entered into an agreed standard sizing of automobile license plates as 6" x 12". That year, New York was in the midst of using a validation tab for the previous full-sized 1955 license plate. Therefore it was not until 1957 that all license plates for motor vehicles other than motorcycles went to the newer, smaller sized plates.
Much like the license plates prior, they were identical to the plates used by regular passenger vehicles except the plates were issued with a DSP (Division of State Police) prefix, a dash followed by a number up to 3 digits. The bottom part of the plate had NY in the bottom left corner, EMPIRE STATE in the bottom center of the plate and 57 in the bottom right corner of the plate.
The New York State Police in cooperation with the state's Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, embarked on an experiment in license plate material testing that year. The plates were made of embossed steel, but what made these NYSP license plates particularly special besides their DSP prefix was that the deep yellow paint used for the embossed portions of the plate was made with retro-reflective properties using finely-crushed glass beads. This experiment using this new material was developed with officer/public safety in mind. This new coating was supposed to offer increased visibility in dark conditions when a light source made contact with the reflective material in the coating.
The plates were used until December of that year where they were ordered removed and returned to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles in Albany for examination and disposal. There are only TWO of these first-issue DSP license plates known in existence today.
The experiment proved unsuccessful as reflective material was not used on NYSP license plates again until 1973.
It has also been stated that Troop A ended-up getting the lowest blocs of numbers followed by Troop B, C etc...It is believed that plates in the 800 series went to the newly-formed Troop T which patrolled the recently-completed New York State Thruway.



New York license plate image
1957

  • New York license plate image1957 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel.
    Experimental reflective deep yellow paint over black.
    First issue of agency-specific license plates for NYSP.
  • New York license plate image1957

New York license plate image

New York license plate image
1957. Greene County NY

New York license plate image
1957. New York State Thruway.

New York license plate image
1957. Troop A- Batavia- Calibrating radar.

New York license plate image
1957. New York State Thruway.... "Really sir?... a U Turn right at the sign that says "NO U TURNS" !?! "

  • New York license plate image1958 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Black over deep yellow.
    Validated in 1959 by use of tab seen further below.
  • looking image

New York license plate image

New York license plate image
1958. DSP-7...low number would indicate a Troop A plate.
(Courtesy Kevin Ensor)


  • New York license plate image1959 validation tab for 1958 license plate.
    Embossed steel. 2" x 2 1/2"
  • looking image



New York license plate image

In 1960, New York went back to the same color and format as the 1957 plate with a deep yellow over black version of the EMPIRE STATE license plate. For NYSP plates, regular deep yellow paint was used for the raised characters on the plate instead of the reflective type.
These plates were validated for 1961 by use of an embossed metal tab measuring 2" x 2 1/2". 61 painted black over a deep yellow background. Engraved serial number along right margin.



New York license plate image(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)

New York license plate image



New York license plate image
1961. Speedometer calibration.
Courtesy Mike Doucette


  • New York license plate image1962 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Black over deep yellow.
    Validated in 1963 by use of tab seen further below.
  • New York license plate image

New York license plate image
1962- Courtesy Tom Sheehy

New York license plate image
1962

  • New York license plate image1962 issue with 1963 validation tab.
    Division of State Police
    Embossed steel.
    Black over deep yellow. Tab in reverse colors.
  • looking image



New York license plate image
1963

New York license plate image
1963. Trooper Kenneth Earle
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


Twenty four years after hosting their last World's Fair, New York was preparing once again to host the planet for the 1964 World's Fair. This time was no different as it related to promoting the event on the state's license plates.
The 1964 NYSP license plates were deep yellow over black with the DSP prefix, a dash and a number up to three digits.
NY was situated in the lower left corner, WORLD'S FAIR at the bottom center and 64 at the bottom right corner.
These plates were validated in 1965 by a black over reflective red validation decal.

  • New York license plate image1964 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Deep yellow over black.
    World's Fair base. Validated for 1965 with black over reflective red validation decal.
  • looking image

New York license plate image
1965. Hamlin Beach State Park just outside Rochester on Lake Ontario.
Cruiser on the left is sporting a 1965 New York State Thruway Permit plate. These 4" x 8 embossed aluminum annually-issued plates were mounted on the front of some NYSP cruisers who frequently accessed the toll highway.
Closer view of such a plate seen below.


  • New York license plate image1965 issue NY State Thruway Toll plate.
    4" x 8" embossed aluminum annual issue.
    As seen on the car pictured above at left.
    Some NYSP vehicles sported these toll plates on the front of their vehicles in lieu of the DSP plate.
  • looking image
  • New York license plate image1965 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Deep yellow over black.
    1964 World's Fair base. Validated for 1965 with black over reflective red validation decal.
  • looking image

New York license plate image
Radar Duty 1966.
(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


In 1966, New York state went through a revolutionary change in license plate issuance. For over 30 years the state's license plates alternated between black and deep yellow color schemes and the abbreviation NY on the majority of the annual issues. Now, the state name was to be spelled out in full on a plate with a deep blue background and bright orange characters.
The plates were designed to last several years and the bottom right corner of the plate had a validation decal "navel" to accommodate a host of annual validation stickers as the years would go by.
NYSP license plates continued with the DSP prefix followed by a dash and a number up to three digits.
These license plates were issued until DSP 999 was reached. It was after that point that a new design was launched in late 1968, however the DSP-### plates continued to be used and re-used concurrent to the new issue until 1973.



New York license plate image
Low numbered DSP issue (Troop A) 1966
(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)

  • New York license plate image1966 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Orange over deep blue.
    Validated annually through end of 1972.
  • looking image
  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate image1967 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Orange over deep blue.
    Validated annually through end of 1972.
  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate imageSenior Command Staff 1967- Courtesy Jim Schaller
  • New York license plate imageDSP license plates in the 800 bloc of numbers were issued to Troop T (NY State Thruway)
    (Photo Courtesy Tom Sheehy)
  • New York license plate image1968 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Orange over deep blue.
    Validated annually through end of 1972.
  • looking image

When the DSP series license plates reached DSP 999, most of those plates would eventually get re-issued as older cars were exchanged for new ones, therefore some of the 1966 issue plates did get utilized by more than one patrol car within its service life.
To ensure a less-restrictive way of identifying their vehicles, the NYSP unveiled a new "Troop plate" introduced in December of 1968. The plate was the same color and material as the 1966 DSP plates, but along the bottom of the plate it read: NY STATE POLICE NY.
A 4 to 5 digit number was used with each 1000 bloc dedicated to a particular Troop as seen below:

1000 bloc: TROOP A covering the counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming
2000 bloc: TROOP B covering the counties of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence
3000 bloc: TROOP C covering the counties of Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga and Tompkins
4000 bloc: TROOP D covering the counties of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego
5000 bloc: TROOP E covering the counties of Cayuga, Chemung, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates
6000 bloc: TROOP F covering the counties of Greene, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster
7000 bloc: TROOP T covering the New York State Thruway
8000 bloc: TROOP G covering the counties of Albany, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington
9000 bloc: Troop K covering the counties of Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester
10-000 bloc: Troop L covering the counties of Nassau and Suffolk.

The troop plates ending in zero-zero-zero were reserved for the Troop Commander and numbers ascended by rank/seniority within the Troop.

  • New York license plate image1968-1972 issue. REPRODUCTION
    Plate made for NYSP car restoration but following the proper formatting for the period.
    6000: Troop F car number 83.
    9096 as seen at right is proper representation.
  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate image1967-1971 State Test Plates. Used to test different coatings and raw material over given period time and under frequent outings in all kinds of weather, road conditions and speeds.
    The front of New York State Police patrol vehicles was an effective "test lab" for durability.

    (Courtesy Peter Kanze)
  • New York license plate image1967- State Test Plate mounted on NYSP Ford Galaxie.

    (Courtesy Tom Sheehy)


As the NYSP was using the contemporary 1966 DSP prefixed and 1968 Troop plates on their patrol vehicles during this time, some NYSP patrol cars were selected to run special project test plates issued by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. These test plates were run on the front of selected NYSP and other state vehicles from as early as January of 1967 and as late as June of 1971. The plates were of the same color and layout as the 1966 base plates in use by the state at the time. The registration number was replaced with the word STATE and the state name was replaced with the word TEST PLATE. It is believed that although no reflective material was used on the plates (as with the 1957 experiment), that the paint itself was being tested to determine durability under the most trying conditions.

  • New York license plate image1969 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Orange over deep blue.
    Validated annually through end of 1972 used concurrent with 1968-1972 Troop plates.
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New York license plate image
(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)

New York license plate image
1968-1972 issue. Troop C # 30

  • New York license plate image1970 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Orange over deep blue.
    Validated annually through end of 1972 used concurrent with 1968-1972 Troop plates.
    NOTE: This particular plate is literally the LAST of the DSP prefix issues!
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  • New York license plate image1971 issue. Division of State Police
    Embossed steel. Orange over deep blue.
    Validated annually through end of 1972 used concurrent with 1968-1972 Troop plates.
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In 1973, New York once again re-plated. Harsh winters with lots of road salt took their toll on the blue plates issued to New York motorists seven years earlier. This time the state went to a dark blue over reflective orange/gold base on galvanized steel.
NYSP license plates continued in the same pattern for their well-liked troop plates as the format remained the same with only the reverse coloring being the only change.
Depending when some of the plates were made between 1973 and 1984, the background color varies from more orange in shade to more gold.

  • New York license plate image1973-1984 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Number in 1000 bloc: Troop A number 4.
    More of a reflective gold on this base.
  • New York license plate image1973-1984 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Number in 6000 bloc: Troop F number 0. Troop Commander
    More of a reflective orange on this base.

New York police troops map

New York license plate image
Troopers Bill Hubert and Bob Dossinger out of Troop A

(Courtesy Kevin Enser)


New York license plate image
Troop K

(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)


New York license plate image
Troop G

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Troop D- Circa 1975- Courtesy Ted Kelly

New York license plate image
Troop D- Blizzard of 1977- Courtesy Yan Salomon

  • New York license plate image1973-1984 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Number in 8000 bloc: Troop G number 28.
    More of a reflective gold on this base.
  • New York license plate image1973-1984 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Number in 10-000 bloc: Troop L number 123.
    More of a reflective gold on this base.

New York license plate image
1974- Troop G

New York license plate image
1982- Troop A
(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)


New York license plate image
1977- Troop G - Canine.
(Courtesy Tom Sheehy)


In September of 1984, the same color scheme of dark blue over reflective orange/gold continued, however the formatting for NYSP license plates changed.
NEW YORK was spelled out in full at the bottom center of the plate and the embossed validation decal "navel" in the bottom right corner returned as it had looked when the 1966 base was launched.
The prefix DSP (Division of State Police) also returned, however this time it appeared as an oblique descending right from the top left corner of the plate. Troop cars had a zone number (1 thru 4) which preceded the Troop letter followed by a number up to two digits indicating the car and radio number.
Troop Command Staff and special units within the troop used similar plates but with no zone number.
A zone number of 5 would indicate an inspector assigned to the Troop.

The Troop assignments as of September of 1984 were as follows:
Troop A Headquartered in Batavia
Troop B Headquartered in Malone
Troop C Headquartered in Sidney
Troop D Headquartered in Oneida
Troop E Headquartered in Canadaigua
Troop F Headquartered in Middletown
Troop G Headquartered in Loudonville
Troop H Headquartered at General HQ- Albany
Troop K Headquartered in Poughkeepsie
Troop L Headquartered in Long Island
Troop M Headquartered in Manhattan (Detective office- later renamed Troop NYC)
Troop T Headquartered in Albany for the New York State Thruway

  • New York license plate image1984-1986 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Troop L (Long Island) Zone 1 (which covers stations of Valley Stream and Lake Success), car/radio number 31.
    Same plate as seen on duty in photo to the right.
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  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate image1984-1986 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Troop F, no zone number.
    Special assignment vehicle (ie: Command Staff, Commercial Vehicle Inspection etc..)
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  • New York license plate image
    1984-1986 issue SAMPLE.

    (Courtesy Marco Tramelli)
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New York license plate image
NYSP Plymouth Gran Fury with NY State Thruway markings.
(courtesy Tom Sheehy)



In 1986, New York went to a radical new approach with how their license plates looked. The state went to a graphic design which other states had already embarked upon for their own styles years prior.
The initial batch of new graphic plates were made of galvanized steel, but then by 1992, the state switched to aluminum.
The plates had a reflective white background and featured the image of the Statue of Liberty silkscreened in red at the far left of the plate. There was a screened red line running horizontally above the upper mounting holes over NEW YORK in dark blue silkscreened script. A screened line in red ran horizontally below the lower mounting holes. Subdued in the background, visible only on reflected light, is a repetitive hologram with the state map inside a circle and "LIBERTY" inside the map which runs vertically through the center across the statue from top to bottom.
The DSP (Division of State Police) prefix is embossed in dark blue and stacked vertically in the prefix position to the left of the assignment number. Zone vehicles have the Zone Number followed by the Troop letter, a dash and the car/radio number all embossed in blue.
Some NYSP license plates issued in September of 1988 were missing the dash which separted the Troop letter from the assignment number. By June of 1989, the dash re-appeared.

  • New York license plate image1986-1995 issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Troop F - Zone 2-(which covers stations of Monroe, Florida, Deerpark, Greenville, Hamptonburg, Haverstraw, Montgomery, New Hampton, and Pine Bush)
    Car/radio number 4.
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  • New York license plate imageTroop K (Poughkeepsie) Zone 4

  • New York license plate imageTroop L (Long Island) Zone 2
    (Courtesy Tom Sheehy)


  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate image1986-1995 issue. Embossed galvanized steel.
    Early type in steel. Thruway Troop Zone 3-(which covers stations of Syracuse, Junius Ponds and Schuyler)
    Car/Radio number 18.
  • New York license plate imageZone 1 (Tarrytown, New Rochelle, Newburgh)
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  • New York license plate image1986-1995 issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Emergency Vehicle Operation Course. These EVOC prefixed NYSP license plates were used on Academy vehicles utilized in police vehicle operation training.
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  • New York license plate image1986-1995 issue. SAMPLE
  • New York license plate image1986-1995 issue. SAMPLE with narrower dies.



By late 1994/early1995, the NYSP began using very distinctive all-graphic license plates. The plates were made with technology provided by a German company based out of New Jersey called Azon-Utsch. This company spearheaded the advancement of "thermo-transfer print" digital technology for license plate manufacturing in the USA: a digital means of applying license numbers to license plates without the need for the traditional stamping press. A sheet of reflective material comprised of the layout, format and license number was adhered tothe aluminum base plate.
It was the beginning of "cut and paste" license plate manufacturing in North America. These plates were not just relegated to the exclusive use of the NYSP, but also for special-issue graphic and personalized license plates issued in New York State. These plates are all-screened and have no embossed characters. Only the contour of the plate is step-bordered. The design of this plate utilized a retro-reflective white base plate with a dark blue banner placed across the top of the plate with NEW YORK in a stylized font in white, similar to that used by the New York Yankees baseball organization. Below that is a sliver of white showing horizontally across the plate followed by a thin red horizontal stripe that spans the length of the plate. Below that to the far left is a circular emblem depicting the New York coat-of arms and the words NEW YORK along the top of the circle and STATE POLICE along the bottom of the circle. To the immediate right of the emblem is the assignment number in dark blue "Zurich Extra Condensed" font. Between the lower mounting holes in dark blue is the line reading: STATE POLICE- Proudly Serving Since 1917. Below the lower mounting holes is the reverse order of the red, white and blue horizontal stripes. The earliest rendition of these plates utilized the "slashed zero" to differentiate the character from the letter "O". After several months of "legibility problems" on the road, a directive was sent from General Headquarters that all NYSP license plates with the "slashed zero" were to be returned to Albany for exchange with a "clean zero" substitute. All "slashed zero" license plates were to have subsequently been destroyed, but a few have been found to have escaped such a dire fate.
The numbering sequence for the current issue NYSP license plates (and perhaps the previous issues as well, although not confirmed) follow this typical assignment.
The letter L refers to the Troop Letter:

L1 - Major
L2-L4 - Captains
L5 - Bureau of Criminal Investigation Captain
L10-L49 - Troop Administration - Marked cars
L50-L69 - Troop Administration - Unmarked cars
L70-L89 - CVEU, box trucks, SCUBA, Canine, etc.
L90-L99 - Troop Communications
L101-L109 - Traffic Incident Management Team

1L1 - Lieutenant
1L10-1L49 - Marked Cars (County cars/non-interstate)
1L50-1L59 - Unmarked Cars
1L60-1L79- Interstate Patrol cars
1L80-1L99 - Miscellaneous Units

Bureau of Criminal Investigation
L5 - BCI Captain
5L1 - BCI Lieutenant
5L5-5L24 - BCI Senior Investigators
5L25-5L199 - BCI Investigators
7L###- Non NYSP units (Ie: 7G201 is Clifton Park NY Security)
8L###- NY State Park Police
9L##- Dispatchers

  • New York license plate image1995-2016 issue. Early "slashed zero" type which was recalled in late 1995/early 1996.
    Troop L (Long Island) zone 2- (which covers stations of Brentwood, Fishers Island and Riverside)
    Car/radio number 20.
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  • New York license plate imageTroop F- Zone 3- Courtesy Yan Salomon

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  • New York license plate image1995-2016 issue. Later "clean zero" type.
    Headquarters zone 1, car/radio number 60.
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  • New York license plate image1995-2016 issue.
    Troop K (Poughkeepsie) zone 4 (no longer in place), car/radio number 29.
  • New York license plate imageTroop C- Zone 3 (covers stations of Ithaca, Berkshire, Newfield, Homer, Marathon and Owego)
  • New York license plate imageTroop G-Zone 2 (Covers stations of Wilton, Bolton Landing, Charlton, Chestertown, Clifton Park, Granville, Greenwich, Hadley, Queensbury, Saratoga, Schuylerville and Northway)
  • New York license plate imageTroop T-5 as a zone number indicates inspector/BCI
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  • New York license plate image1995-2016 issue. Troop L (Long Island)
    Troop headquarters use (Command staff, administration, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement etc...)
  • New York license plate imageTroop C (Sidney) Headquarters
  • New York license plate image2010-Current style for NYSP Academy.
    Uses different graphics including seal emblem.
    R designation for academy.
    Unsure as to the Zone number usage.

    (Courtesy Andrew Witkowski)
  • New York license plate imageNYSP Academy plate number 3R24.

    (Courtesy Andrew Witkowski)
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  • New York license plate image1995-2016 issue. Mobile Response Team

    (Courtesy Joe Caputo)
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  • New York license plate image1995-2000. Used on Seat Belt Convincer device which was brought to public events to demonstrate at low speed how important seat belt use is for public safety.
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  • NY police plate1995-2016 SAMPLE (early version)
  • New York license plate image1995-2016 SAMPLE (later version)

In the latter half of 2016, the New York State Police began to prepare for its approaching milestone of 100 years in the service to the state of New York. Centennial celebration ideas for 2017 were launched and one aspect of the occasion was to launch a new license plate to replace the one that had been around for over the past 20 years. The new plates were once again made of entirely silkscreened aluminum with a step border. The top of the plate has the state name silkscreened in yellow-orange against a dark blue band that curves slightly downward at each end. A thin yellow pin stripe mirrors the bottom edge of the band curve from end to end. The state seal once again appears in the center left field of the plate, however with a more filled-in color of a gold circumference surrounding a full color state seal against a royal blue backdrop.
The numerals are silkscreened in dark blue from the mid-center to the right field of the plate.
The slogan "STATE POLICE- Proudly Serving Snce 1917" is silkscreened in red at the bottom center of the plate.

  • New York license plate image
    Late 2016-Current issue. Silkscreened aluminum.
    Dark blue and yellow-orange over reflective white.
    Headquarters assignment.

    (Courtesy Sal Dodd)
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>New York license plate image
Winter 2017 seen in Manhattan- Courtesy Alberto Repetto.

Motorcycles of the New York State Police


The earliest information on motorcycle use by the NYSP goes back to 1918. Three motorcycles for each of the NYSP's four troops were acquired for patrol. All of them were colored granite grey and had sidecars. Each motorcycle had two riders: a senior man and a relief rider. The latter of which was used only when the senior man was off duty or on assignment elsewhere.
The riding season was from May until October and only in daylight hours and good weather.
In these earliest of days of motorcycle use by the NYSP, only standard high-numbered civilian motorcycle license plates were used. A confirmed NYSP motorcycle license number of 21824 for 1921 is an indicator. The plates were made of embossed steel and mirrored the color combination use of the passenger car plates of each year. The plates measured 3 1/2" x 6 3/4" and had embossed borders. The number up to five digits was embossed over N.Y. followed by the year in full up until 1927 when only the last two numbers of the year were used.



New York license plate image

By 1927, the NYSP began using low-numbered civilian issue motorcycle license plates on their rides. It was in that year that the dimensions for the motorcycle license plates changed to 3 1/2" x 7 1/4". The following year, the dimensions returned to 3 1/2" x 6 3/4" for plate numbers under 4 digits.



  • NY motorcicle police plate
  • NY motorcicle police plate
  • New York license plate image
  • New York license plate image

New York license plate image

Aside from the use of numbered motorcycle license plates used on the rear of the NYSP motorcycles at that time, there was also the use of fender signs on the front fenders of most NYSP cycles from the 1920's through the 1960's.
Some of these fender signs would be generic with only the word POLICE on both sides, some with great detail identifying NY STATE POLICE and even the troop headquarters designation. The plates were typically black with the inscription painted in gold with red outline.



New York license plate image

New York license plate image

Photo shows a well-detailed front fender sign indicating the NYSP rider's assignment out of Troop A in Batavia. Notice in the photo below that no front fender sign was used on that particular motorcycle. Also note plate number 933 on the NYSP car behind him.



New York license plate image

New York license plate image

New York license plate image

New York license plate image

New York license plate image

  • New York license plate image1933 issue motorcycle with 4 digit number.
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  • New York license plate image
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  • New York license plate image1965 motorcycle issue.

    (Courtesy Jim Schaller)
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  • New York license plate imageLate 1960's era motorcycle issue.
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  • New York license plate image1973-1986 motorcycle issue.

    (Courtesy of Jim Schaller)
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  • New York license plate image1995-current motorcycle issue.
    All-silkscreened as car plates.
  • New York license plate image

New York police
NYSP 2 on ATV- Courtesy Joe Caputo



Special Issues



Some special issue license plates with respect to the New York State Police have been issued both officially and unofficially. Here are some examples below:



  • New York license plate imageCurrent issue Association of Former New York State Troopers. Personal use.
  • New York police license plate imageCurrent issue Association of Former New York State Troopers. Personal use.
    (Courtesy Retired Technical Sgt Lyn Lobdell)
  • New York license plate imageOlder issue- Association of Former New York State Troopers. Personal Use. Commercial base plate.

    (Courtesy Larry Austin)
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  • New York license plate imageCurrent issue- Association of Former New York State Troopers.
    Personal Use. Commercial base plate.

    (Courtesy Larry Austin)
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  • New York license plate imageCustom NYSP plate made for restored 1973 NYSP Plymouth Fury seen at right.
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  • looking imageSpecial Order NYSP license plate used as "Cubicle Marker"

    (Courtesy of Mark Scarselli).
  • NYSP plateFlip-side of plate seen at left. Magnets affixed to back side of plate to mount on face of metal desk.

    (Courtesy Mark Scarselli)
  • New York license plate imageCirca 1990's promotional "booster" plate.
    Embossed thin aluminum with white background.
    Souvenir type.
  • New York license plate imageCirca 1990's-2000's promotional "booster" plate.
    Embossed thin aluminum with grey background.
    Souvenir type.
  • New York license plate image90th Anniversary promotional "booster" plate.
    Embossed thin aluminum.
    Souvenir type.
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