The History of the Kansas Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit
The Kansas Highway Patrol had motorcycles from the beginning in 1937. With four Harley-Davidson that were used for a number of actives including parades.
When Eisenhower was being sworn into office the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) was invited to Washington D.C. so the motorcycles where transported by boxcar for the trip.
The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) has provided the security for the State Fair since the beginning, use of motorcycles were used in the 1960’s.
When Eisenhower passed away the KHP again provided security.
Traffic continued to be a consent through the 1970’s.
In 1989, the KHP established a Motorcycle Enforcement Unit that consisted of four members assigned to Wichita and six assigned to Kansas City. The 1990 Harley Davidson FXRP Pursuit Glide was selected as the motorcycle implemented for the unit.
“In the early ’90s, it was especially true with traffic patterns, that motorcycles allowed us to do a much better job of monitoring traffic, and we were less obvious than a patrol car,” said one of the original 10 motorcycle troopers. He said the unit modeled itself after Topeka Police Department, Michigan State Police, Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies across the country. After the Patrol’s motorcycle program was up and running, other agencies in Kansas City modeled their programs after the Patrol’s.
Motorcycles enabled troopers to get to crash scenes easier and quicker in heavy traffic. The motorcycles also were fabulous tools for escorts and special enforcement, a Kansas Trooper said. He stated the motorcycles have provided escorts for a number of Presidents and Vice Presidents.
Other than the occasional cold weather escorts, the motorcycles were not to be ridden if it was less then 40 degrees, wet, or sandy from road salt. The bikes were put away in December and January. In the summer, troopers had the discretion not to ride if it was over 90 degrees. “They were a lot of fun. In the early years, when we had six guys up here, you always had a partner to ride with, ” Trooper said. “Some days, I’d pull in my drive and think, they pay me for this!”
When Kansas Speedway opened, the Patrol changed over to Harley Davidson Road King, equipped with LIDAR. Today, there are two 2001 and one 1995 motorcycles in Kansas City, and two 2001 bikes in Wichita.
Information and Photos provided by the Kansas Highway Patrol Public Information Office.