The History of the Louisiana State Police Shoulder Patch
The Louisiana State Police shoulder patch has been worn with pride and dignity by Troopers for over sixty years. The patch design was first created in 1936, the year the Louisiana State Police was formed. This design remains virtually unchanged to this day.
The shoulder patch, commonly referred to as the “boot,” is shaped much like the state and symbolizes a commitment to the citizens of Louisiana. The LSP is one of four state police which fashions its shoulder patch in the outline of its home state.
Within the “boot” design is the state seal of Louisiana. The seal displays the state bird, the Brown Pelican, perched in a nest tearing flesh from its own breast to feed its young. Encircling the pelican is the state motto:
“Union, Justice, Confidence.”
The History of the Louisiana State Police Motorcycle Unit
The Louisiana State Police originally started in 1922 as the Louisiana Highway Commission. The patrolman that composed the Commission were all motorcycle patrolman. The state was divided into 10 districts. Eight of the districts were assigned one lone motorcycle patrolman. The Baton Rouge district was manned with two motorcycle patrolman and New Orleans was manned with three. Two additional patrolmen cruised the main highways of the state. These 15 men and one Captain, who also served as superintendent of the force, patrolled the state’s 2700 miles of roads and watched over 102,000 motor vehicles in Louisiana. Patrolman owned their own bikes and maintained them with a small allowance from the State.
In 1932, the La Highway Commission became known as the Highway Patrol. Famous Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long extensively used the motorcycle patrolman as his bodyguards, who escorted him all over the state. In 1936, an act of the Louisiana Legislature created what is now known as the Louisiana State Police. Motorcycles were the primary means of transportation for patrolman up until this point, numbering over 40. By 1939, troopers in cars and on motorcycles were patrolling almost 2 million miles a year. It was in this year that State Police was divided into 8 “Troops”.
In 1948, the State Police motorcycle fleet numbered 36. The department began to rely more on the automobile for patrol and it was not long before State Police motorcycles were found only in New Orleans and other major population centers. Motorcycle patrol units still were maintained throughout the 1950s. Governor Earl Long routinely used numerous State Police motorcycles for his motorcade as he traveled around the state. In the 1960s, State Police was utilizing cars, motorcycles, planes and helicopters for enforcement.
Throughout its history, State Police has used Harley Davidson motorcycles for patrol. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the department switched briefly to Kawasaki’s. Shortly thereafter, the motorcycle patrol program was disbanded. It wasn’t until 1997 that a true motorcycle patrol unit was reformed and Harley Davidson’s once again became the bikes of choice. Today there are 24 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycles patrolling the highways of Louisiana with 24 full-time motor troopers and 4 part-time motor troopers riding them.
Information and Photos provided by the Louisiana State Police.