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The Texas Highway Patrol was established in 1929 to monitor the state’s new and expanding system of public roads. At the time, local law enforcement was ill-equipped to deal with the increase in vehicle traffic, and traffic violations and deaths were increasing at an alarming rate.
The Texas Legislature passed traffic rules, such as a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit for freeways, and created a statewide police division – the Texas Highway Patrol – to enforce these. regulations. The first patrol force in 1930 consisted of 50 men assigned to cover the entire state. The small force had little impact on traffic enforcement and was increased to 120 soldiers the following year. In 1935 the Highway Patrol became part of the new Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and is still part of the DPS today.
For the first two decades of its existence, Texas Highway Patrol officers patrolled Harley-Davidson motorcycles. All recruits have been trained in the operation and maintenance of a motorcycle. The first patrollers also received a 20-page rules and regulations guide that detailed their personal and professional behavior, appearance and expectations. Rules included becoming familiar with state traffic laws and applying them impartially, not using alcohol or narcotics at any time, not smoking while on duty, and maintaining, their motorcycle and any other state equipment in good physical condition.
Most Highway Patrol motorcycles were phased out during the 1940s. One of the reasons DPS stopped using motorcycles was their dangerousness – protective gear for motorcycle police was minimal and did not include no helmet. Despite the phasing out of the use of patrols, soldiers continued to be trained in motorcycle operations until 1957.