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In 1941 the Alaska Territorial Legislature established the Territory of Alaska Highway Patrol for the purpose of enforcing the traffic code - but did not provide the new organization with police authority. In 1945, the members of the Alaska Highway Patrol were deputized as Special Deputy U.S. Marshals. In 1948 the Highway Patrol was given the full authority of peace officers to enforce the laws of the Territory.

In 1953, the Territorial Legislature established the Alaska Territorial Police to provide law enforcement services for the entire Territory. In 1959, the name of Alaska's law enforcement agency was changed to the Alaska State Police and the organization became a division of the Department of Public Safety. The new State Police added 13 former U.S. Marshals and 10 new recruits to their ranks, increasing their number to 78 commissioned officers.

In 1967, the name was changed to the Alaska State Troopers. Today, the Alaska State Troopers number approximately 240 commissioned and 190 civilian personnel. The Troopers' major components are five Detachments and a Criminal Investigation Bureau (founded in 1971). The detachments are headquartered in Ketchikan, Palmer, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Soldotna.




License Plates of the Alaska Highway Patrol/State Police/State Troopers

Before even getting into the details surrounding this subject, I owe a great deal of credit for this information to a dear friend and fellow hobbyist, the late Earl Jenson of Polson Montana. Earl retired as an Alaska State Trooper back in the early 1980's after starting his law enforcement career with the Alaska Department of Commerce as a Commercial Vehicle Inspector and Weigh Scale Operator in the 1940's. Earl was a man of details and he documented for the subject of motor vehicle registration like a dedicated archivist. He was a true gentleman of the hobby which owes him a debt of eternal gratitude for "paying attention" to what graced the bumpers of motor vehicles in Alaska and elsewhere during those early times.

Back in the early days, The Alaska Highway Patrol never really required license plates to be run on their patrol vehicles, but as early as 1946, they began using "All Zeros" sample plates on the front and rear of AHP cars. The 1946 and 1947 plates were made of compressed soybeans. These soybean plates were made in Illinois as part of the continued efforts to conserve metal during and shortly after World War II. These plates were flat-painted and were not made with durability or longevity in mind. They featured four zeroes in lieu of a regular registration number and the state name followed by a dash and the year in full (Placed above the zeroes in 1946 and below the zeroes in 1947). Many of the plates that were used by the AHP during that time fell victim to the harsh elements of The Last Frontier and deteriorated in rapid order. Most of the best surviving examples of these types are those that were never issued and stored away from moisture and other "soybean destroying factors".

  • Alaska license plate image1946 issue- Soybean Sample Plate.
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 8 5/8". White over maroon
  • looking image
  • 1947 Alaska license plate picture1947 issue- Soybean Sample Plate.
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 8 5/8". Yellow over Dark blue.

    ( Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • 1947 Alaska police car picture Alaska Highway Patrol-1947 Ford

In 1948, Alaska resumed local production of embossed license plates, albeit using aluminum as opposed to the Pre-war steel plates. These new plates were made additionally attractive by adding an embossed rendition of the territorial flag on the left side of the plate which features the Big Dipper stellar constellation. The sample plates used by the Alaska Highway Patrol that year featured only three zeros as opposed to the four zeroes on the previous two issues. The fourth zero made a comeback the following year in 1949.

  • Alaska license plate image1948 issue- Embossed Aluminum Sample Plate.
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 10 1/2". Blue over yellow.

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • looking image
  • Alaska license plate image1949 issue- Embossed Aluminum Sample Plate.
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 12". Dark blue over white.

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police car picture1949 AHP Buick

Alaska police officers picture

In 1950, steel license plates made a comeback in Alaska. The same layout with the territorial flag on the left side of the plate continued, however the increase in registered motor vehicles in the territory during this time necessitated an increase of registration digits to five, meaning a five-zero sample plate for the Highway Patrol. The resurrection of steel license plates in Alaska was short-lived as they were only used until the end of 1952.

  • Alaska license plate image1950 issue- Embossed Steel Sample Plate
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 12". Dark blue over orange.
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska license plate image1951 issue- Embossed Steel Sample Plate
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 12". Blue over yellow.
  • Alaska police officers picture1951 Hudson Hornet
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska license plate image1952 issue- Embossed Steel Sample Plate
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 12". Blue over White
  • Alaska police officers picture1952 AHP Buick

In 1953, a similar layout was used, but license plates were made out of aluminum again. In addition, instead of the year in full, only the last two digits of the year was in place in the upper right corner of the plate. On the left side of the 53 was a small round hole and a thin vertical slot positioned towards the bottom part of the 5. On the upper right side of the 3 was a thin vertical slot and a small round hole. These elements were installed to accommodate future annual validation tabs, making this Alaska's first "multi year" license plate. These plates were used on Alaska Territorial Police vehicles until the end of 1955.

  • Alaska license plate image1953-1955 issue-
    Embossed Aluminum Sample Plate
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 12". Blue over yellow.
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska license plate image1954 Embossed Aluminum Validation Tab
    Approx. 3/4" x 1". Red over white.
    Engraved serial number run vertically after the 4

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police officers pictureLarger view of this photo available in Gallery below
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska license plate image1955 Embossed Aluminum Validation Tab
    Approx. 2 5/16" x 2 7/8". White over black
    Engraved serial number run along top

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police officer pictureLarger view of this photo available in Gallery below
  • Alaska police officers picture

In 1956, the Alaska Territorial Police began using regular passenger car license plates on their marked patrol vehicles. The plates were made of embossed aluminum and were in the new standard size format of 6" x 12". The state name was embossed at the top center between the upper mounting holes. In the top right corner was embossed 56 for the year and it was flanked by the same vertical slot and hole pattern as the previous issue on each side to accommodate future validation tabs. The left center of the plate featured once again the flag of the territory followed by a four to five digit registration number. The plate has a flat white background with embossed characters painted in dark blue. The plates were issued in random number blocs. Some ATP plates have been seen in the 1000 number bloc, some in the 30000 number bloc and others in the 59000 number bloc. The plates were validated in 1957 with a white on red embossed aluminum validation tab.

  • Alaska police car image1956 issue. Blue over white. Number 1006
  • Alaska police car picture1956 passenger plate number 30111 with 1957 validation tab
  • Alaska police car image1957 Embossed Aluminum Validation Tab
    Approx. 1 1/2" x 1 1/2". White over red
    Engraved serial number run along top

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police car picture
  • Alaska license plate image1958-1959 issue-Embossed Aluminum in 1000 Number Bloc- Dark blue over yellow.
    Used during transition to Alaska State Police in 1959

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police car picture1958 plate number 1034
  • Alaska police officers picture
    "Thanks a lot for blocking all the plates for the photo, guys!....sheesh..."
  • Alaska license plate image1959 Embossed Aluminum Validation Tab
    Approx. 1 3/4" x 1 1/2". Red over white
    Engraved serial number run along top

    (Courtesy of Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police officer picture1959 ASP Ford with plate number 1000
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska license plate image1960-1961 issue- Embossed Aluminum in 9000 Number Bloc-Dark blue over white.
  • Alaska license plate  picture1960-1961 issue-Embossed Aluminum in 9000 Number Bloc with 1961 Validation Tab
  • Alaska license plate imageEmbossed Aluminum Validation Tab
    Approx. 1 1/2" x 1 13/16". White over reflective blue
    Engraved serial number run along top

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police car picture1961 ASP Chevrolet wagon- Plate # 9039

In 1962 a new OFFICIAL USE ONLY license plate was introduced and used until 1975. The plate was dark blue over reflective yellow and made of embossed aluminum (Painted raised border) OFFICIAL USE ONLY embossed along the top and under the upper bolt-holes. The embossed state flag on the left of the plate followed by a 4-digit number in the 1-800 number bloc. ALASKA embossed between the lower bolt-holes.

  • Alaska license plate image1962-1975 Base. Embossed aluminum.
    Number in 1-800 bloc
    Reflective blue over reflective yellow

    (Courtesy of Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police officer picture
  • Alaska license plate image1968-1969 plate that was used on unmarked Service Section car of Captain D. McQueen-Court Service.
    Blue over white.
  • looking image

In 1976, Alaska began issuing attractive graphic license plates for the U.S. Bicentennial. The plates had ALASKA embossed in red along the top between the upper bolt-holes over embossed registration number that commenced with an AST prefix and up to 3 numbers. The word TROOPERS was embossed in small dies on the bottom of the plate. The graphics on the plate feature a standing brown bear in the center and mountain scene in the background. A blue square with 76 surrounded by a circle of 5-point stars is in the upper right corner of the plate. Step border used on this base. These plates were sometimes validated with annual stickers in upper corners. These plates were used until 1982.

  • Alaska license plate image1976-1982 issue Bicentennial Base. Embossed aluminum.
    Red over reflective white.
    Validated annually until January of 1982
  • Alaska police car pictureLarger view of this photo available in Gallery below
  • Alaska license plate image1976-1982 issue Bicentenial Base. Embossed aluminum.
    Red over reflective white.
    This example shows validation for 1977 and 1978.
  • Alaska police car picture1978 Plymouth Fury
  • Alaska 1981 police plate1976- 1982 issue Bicentennial base. Embossed aluminum.
    Red over reflective white.
    This example shows validation expiring in January 1981.
  • looking image
  • Alaska police officers picture

In 1982, new blue over reflective yellow plates were issued to Alaska State Troopers. The state name was silk-screened between the upper bolt-holes above an embossed registration number that commenced with an AST prefix and up to 3 numbers. The letters and numbers were separated by a silk-screened graphic of the state flag. The word TROOPERS was embossed in small dies on the bottom of the plate. Most AST plates had one white over blue sticker with the words STATE over VEHICLE and a similar sticker with the letter P indicating that the plate was a Permanent issue. These stickers were placed in each top corner and varied from left or right.

Around 1991, the same plate was still used, but the AST went to the suffix position.



Alaska police motocycle 1981 Plain car detail in unmarked 1981 Pontiac Trans Ams using BCV 400 series passenger plates.
(Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska license plate image1982-Early 1990's issue. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow/gold. Earlier version with 1983 and January validation decals. AST in prefix position.

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police car image1987 Chevrolet Caprice
  • Alaska license plate image1982-Early 1990's issue. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow/gold. Permanent decal in upper left corner-STATE VEHICLE decal in upper right corner.
    AST in prefix position.
  • Alaska police car image1991 Chevrolet Caprice
  • Alaska police officers picture
  • Alaska license plate image1982-Early 1990's Sample issue. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow/gold. No Decals affixed. AST in prefix position followed by three zeroes.

    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • looking image
  • Alaska license plate image1990's-2004 issue. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold. STATE VEHICLE decal in upper left corner-Permanent decal in upper right corner.
    AST in suffix position.
  • looking image

Around 2001, a graphic design front plate began gracing the "business end" of AST patrol cars. The plates had similar colors to the rear plates but were all silk-screened with the exception of TROOPERS embossed in small dies along the bottom of the plate. The center of the plate reads: ".08 It's the Law" indicating Alaska's maximum allowable blood alcohol content for driving a motor vehicle.

  • Alaska license plate image2001 issue front plate. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold. Reflective white border. Indicated Alaska's maximum Blood Alcohol level for motorists.
    No decals issued.
  • Alaska police car image
  • Alaska license plate image2005 ERROR issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Embossed flag.
    AST was supposed to be a suffix not a prefix.
    Never issued.
  • looking image
  • Alaska police plate imageCirca 2006 issue. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold. Lower legend TROOPERS is silkscreened. STATE VEHICLE decal in upper left corner-Permanent decal in upper right corner.
  • Alaska police car image
  • Alaska police plate image2006-Current issue. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold. Features full-color Alaska DPS badge design at center left. Numbering is three numbers followed by AST (no separation of numbers to letters)

    (Courtesy of Bill Ceravola)
  • Alaska police car imageCourtesy of Dirk Starck

Alaska police cars
  • Alaska police plate image1998 Prototype issue. Embossed aluminum. Black over reflective white. Several of these Alaska Gold Rush Centennial plates were manufactured with Commissioner (AST 1) and Deputy Commissioner (AST 2) assignment numbers. The Commissioner allegedly rejected the design for use by AST as the line of prospectors interfered with the legibility of the number.
  • Alaska police car image1998 Prototype issue with Deputy Commissioner's assignment number
  • Alaska police plate image2006 issue-Embossed aluminum.
    Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold.
    Full-color Alaska DPS badge design at center left. LAW 1.
    Stated to be Commissioner Godfrey's radio call sign.
  • Alaska police plate image2006 issue-Embossed aluminum.
    Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold. Full-color Alaska DPS badge design at center left. ALASKA (promotional)
  • Alaska police cars picture
  • Alaska police plate image1990's Prototype using Arizona dies. Embossed aluminum. Dark blue over aluminum. State name silkscreened in yellow. Painted in red on reverse side.

    (Courtesy of Robert Ward)
  • Alaska police plate image1999 National Trooper's Coalition Souvenir. Embossed thin aluminum. Red over cream.
    Silkscreened grizzly bear design in center.

    (Courtesy of Bill Ceravola)




Alaska State Trooper Motorcycles

I am going to be brutally honest here. I have absolutely no confirmed information with respect to early Alaska State Troopers motorcycle usage with the excpetion of the photos below. If you have any info on its formation, deployment and how long it was in place before being canceled, I would love to know!

  • Alaska police motorcicle license plate1973 issue State Motorcycle. Embossed aluminum.
    Reflective blue/grey over medium yellow.
    Type likely used on inaugural launch of AST motorcycle unit.
    Series may have begun at number 100.
    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska pplice motorcicle and officersEarly Alaska Motors
  • Alaska police motocycle
  • 1978...of course, nobody thought to take a photo of the BACK of these motorcycles...
    (Courtesy Dirk Starck)
  • looking image
  • Alaska police motorcicle

The Alaska State Troopers recently re-commissioned its Motor Unit. A pilot program in 2007 brought 4 Harley-Davidson Road Kings to the Juneau HQ. They are used during the summer months for security escort and traffic enforcement in high density areas.




Alaska Fish & Wildlife Protection Plates

The Alaska Fish And Wildlife Protection Trooper's primary mission is the protection of Alaska's fish and wildlife resources through enforcement of laws and regulations governing use of natural resources within Alaska and its adjacent waters, as well as through increasing the knowledge of, and respect for, fish and wildlife laws and regulations.

The Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement also participates in the overall mission of the Department of Public Safety through enforcement of criminal laws and participation in Search and Rescue operations. The State of Alaska has 586,412 square miles or approximately 365,000,000 acres and 47,300 miles of coastline. All this area is covered by approximately 89 Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement State Troopers. This means there is only one trooper for every 6,588 square miles. Some folks argue that these FWP Troopers are even tougher and more stringent than "regular" AST Troopers, but I guess it decides which side of the argument you're on when you make that decision!

Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement Trooper plates have mirrored the regular AST plate issuances with the exception of FWP prefixes and the word PROTECTION embossed in small dies at the bottom of the plate.

  • Alaska license plate picture1976-1982 issue- Embossed aluminum. Red over reflective white. FWP prefix followed by three numbers.
    PROTECTION embossed at center bottom.
    With 1978 validation decal.
  • Alaska license plate picture1982-1990's issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Dark blue over reflective yellow/gold.
    Earlier version with 1982 and January validation decals.

    (Courtesy of Robert Ward)
  • Alaska license plate picture1982-1990's issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Dark blue over reflective yellow-gold.
    Later version with Permanent decal in upper left corner and STATE VEHICLE decal in upper right corner.

    (Courtesy of Dirk Starck)
  • Alaska police truck picture


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