South Carolina Highway Patrol

As with most jurisdictions in the United States in the 1920's and 1930's, lack of motor vehicle driver control and law enforcement prompted legislators in the Palmetto State to devise a plan and an agency to effectively administer and oversee the upholding of laws governing motor vehicles and the rules of the road.

In 1930, the Driver Licensing Act was passed and the new South Carolina Highway Patrol was formed. 69 men were selected to patrol almost 6000 square miles of highway in the state at that time. Unlike most early state law enforcement agencies of the day, these original members of the SCHP had no formalized training.

They were simply issued a gun, a badge and a uniform and with a few verbal instructions, were told to hit the road and start enforcing the law. The authority vested upon these new officers were parallel to the powers of county sheriffs where it pertained to highway traffic law, and were responsible for enforcement of the new licensing law and promoting highway safety.

Formalized training commenced in 1932 at Camp Jackson where recruits underwent three months of training in all phases of patrol work. In 1937, the Highway Safety Act prompted the SCHP to grow to 90 members with 79 being patrol officers. At this time, patrol cars began to replace motorcycles as the primary means of patrol transportation.

Motorcycles did make a comeback to the SCHP after a 50 year hiatus. Recently, the SCHP motorcycle fleet has consisted of six Harley Davidson FLHPT models and eleven BMW RT1100 models.

Radar use was introduced in 1962 for speed enforcement and unmarked patrol cars commenced duty on the highways of South Carolina in 1965. In 1978, SCHP patrol vehicles went to metallic silver and blue stripes for the first time. In the 1980's, the SCHP experimented with 5 Liter Ford Mustangs for patrol, but by 1994, they were phased-out in favor of unmarked Crown Victorias.

That same year, all seven patrol districts were issued semi-marked Ford Explorers as an Emergency Preparedness and Special Enforcement Vehicle. The following year saw the introduction of the Chevy Camaro to the SCHP fleet. Due to state government restructuring, the SCHP became part of the Department of Public Safety in 1993.

The mission of the SCHP is to provide equitable service and protection and to uphold the laws and constitutions of the United States and the State of South Carolina in order to promote a safe and secure environment for the public.

South Carolina State Flag

Asked by the Revolutionary Council of Safety in the fall of 1775
to design a flag for the use of South Carolina troops,
Col. William Moultrie chose a blue which matched the color
of their uniforms and a crescent which reproduced the silver
emblem worn on the front of their caps. The palmetto tree
was added later to represent Moultrie's heroic defense of
the palmetto-log fort on Sullivan's Island against the attack
of the British fleet on June 28, 1776.


1952 issue
Appears to be a regular passenger plate

 

1963 issue- State Government plate with number up to 4 digits.
No reserved number bloc for SCHP

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this type plate on duty....
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1965 issue- State Government plate with number up to 4 digits. No reserved number bloc for SCHP.
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

Picture courtesy of
the South Carolina Highway Patrol

1967 issue- State Government plate with number up to 4 digits. No reserved number bloc for SCHP.

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this type plate on duty....
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1968 issue- State Government plate with number up to four digits. No reserved number bloc for SCHP.
"AUTO" at bottom for vehicle type.

Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

Picture courtesy of
the South Carolina Highway Patrol


1971 issue- State Government plate with number up to 4 digits. No reserved number bloc for SCHP.
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection
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this type plate on duty....
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1972 issue- Lt. Colonel/Deputy Director of SCHP. Regular SCHP plates were State Government plates with SGA thru SGM prefix and a 3 digit number.
No reserved number bloc for SCHP.
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this type plate on duty....
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Early 1973 issue- State Government plate with number
up to 5 digits. This one was assigned to someone in the
agency with some seniority!
No reserved number bloc for SCHP.
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this type plate on duty....
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Late 1973 issue- State Government plate with number up
to 5 digits. No reserved number bloc for SCHP
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this type plate on duty....
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1981- circa 1985 issue - State Government plate with number up to 5 digits. No reserved number bloc for SCHP. Although SC passenger plates of the same design had a step border, SG Permanent plates had an embossed painted border.
This version was used by the SCHP into the early 1990's

Courtesy of L/Cpl. Robert Clinedinst-SCHP

Circa 1985- early 1990's issue. Embossed steel without silkscreened graphics and higher registration number.
No reserved number bloc for SCHP.

Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1990's- Current issue. A return to the silkscreened graphics with state seal within state map in center.
Embossed painted border.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

Awarded to the trooper who effects their 5th Felony arrest
within a calendar year. Those felony arrests only include
a drug arrest with a charge of Possession with the Intent
to Distribute or Trafficking, Occupied Stolen Vehicle,
U.S. Currency Seizure of $25,000 or more, Felon in
Possession of a Firearm and a Fugitive from Justice.
The ACE program for the SCHP has been in effect since 1990.

Courtesy of L/Cpl. Robert Clinedinst-SCHP

Courtesy of L/Cpl. Robert Clinedinst-SCHP

Courtesy of L/Cpl. Robert Clinedinst-SCHP
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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Courtesy of L/Cpl. Robert Clinedinst-SCHP
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1970's/early 1990's Front plate used by SCHP.
Flat thin aluminum.
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this type plate on duty....
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1990's-Current issue- Optional front plate/booster.
Embossed thin aluminum.


Courtesy of L/Cpl. Robert Clinedinst-SCHP

1992 National Troopers Coalition conference souvenir plate. Not used on SCHP patrol vehicles.
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this type plate on duty....
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State Government Motorcycle plate
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this type plate on duty....
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Motorcycle plate ~ Current issue

Picture courtesy of ST-owners.com