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The Delaware State Police was formed in 1923 when a need to regulate and maintain safety on the state's highways and roadways soon became apparent.

Since 1917, the task of maintaining law and order on the First State's highways was left to the Highway Traffic Police who were hired by the State Highway Commission. In these early days the H.T.P. consisted of one officer whose sole function was to patrol the Philadelphia Pike near Wilmington. In the following year the force was increased to three men and three motorcycles. From 1920 to 1923 these men served directly under the State Highway Commission.

In 1925, the division realized the need for an increase in manpower and the inauguration of twenty-four hour service to provide increased protection and better service to the public. In the same year, the Canine Unit was first established to respond to an increase in prowler complaints. In 1931, the name of the organization , by act of the General Assembly, was officially changed from "State Highway Police" to "State Police".

A milestone was reached on May 29, 1957, with the first expansion of State Police facilities since 1925. On this date Troop 4A, now Troop 7, was opened to give better protection to the citizens of the beach areas. During the latter part of 1960, the State Police acquired its first fixed wing aircraft for traffic and criminal investigations. The year 1963, saw the initiation of 24 hour patrols of the Delaware Turnpike. In an effort to better serve the public, the State Police opened a new State Police sub-station, Troop 2A, (now Troop 6) on the Kirkwood Highway in 1964.

The 1970's saw the Delaware State Police providing the bulk of the manpower for a drug strike force within the state as well as the formation of a Special Weapons and Tactics unit in 1975. As an organization, the State Police has attempted to maintain a high standard of excellence within the framework of the current police technology. The Delaware State Police has made a number of great strides in progress since its inception in 1923. The Division of one officer has grown to over five hundred and addressing the problems and concerns for public safety continues to remain a priority.

The Delaware State Police have run regular passenger license plates on the rear of its patrol cars and trucks and regular motorcycle license plates for their patrol motors since day-one. Most of those plates issued after 1942 were validated by standard expirable validation tabs and decals, and some by dated Exempt validation decals for a time during the 1960's and 1970's. Some titled STATE POLICE license were run on the front of patrol cars and trucks during this time as well and an optional titled plate was also available during the late 1980's/early 1990's.





Delaware State Police License Plates

  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police patch
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police license plateEmbossed 1942 Passenger plate-
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 1/2".
    Type used by DSP in conjunction with porcelain enamel type seen below.
  • Delaware police car

In the early 1940's, many special issue license plates were issued by the state of Delaware to various state officials. One of which was a titled license plate with the inscription: SUPERINTENDENT (over) DELAWARE STATE POLICE used on the front of the DSP patrol vehicle operated by Supt. Paul W. Haviland who served in this position from 1943 to 1947. This plate may have belonged to his predecesor and passed along for his use. It is believed that this plate is still in DSP hands today at Headquarters. A photo of this historical gem would be very much appreciated on this page!

  • Delaware police platePorcelain enamelled steel.
    Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 1/2"
    No reserved number series for DSP.
  • Delaware police patch
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware license plate1947 "Post-Porcelain" Base. Stainless steel over black. Rivetted reflective numbers. Approx. 5 1/2" x 9 1/2". Passenger expiry tabs.
  • Delaware police car and officers
  • Delaware police car and officers
  • Delaware license plate1958 Blue Base. Standard 6" x 12".
    Reflective yellow rivetted numbers on dark blue background. DELAWARE silkscreened.
    Passenger expiry tabs and decals used.
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police billboard

STATE POLICE "titled" license plates run in the late 1950's to 1960's are BELIEVED to be "unofficial" issues that individual troopers may have had made by the highway department. This is not a "confirmed" fact, but one which has been true in later years during a renewed interest in displaying an "agency specific" license plate on DSP patrol vehicles. The plates were made on a standard yellow-gold over blue base plate, but with the words STATE POLICE in upper case block letters where numbers would ordinarily go.
Regular passenger-numbered license plates were still being displayed on the rear of DSP patrol vehicles, but it is believed (not confirmed) that the passenger plates were validated by annual EXEMPT validation decals into the late 1970's. Therefore, not ALL DSP patrol vehicles ran titled STATE POLICE plates on the front during this time.

  • Delaware license plateCirca 1958-1960's titled front plate.
    Believed to be "unofficial" issue. Yellow-gold over blue.
    Flat aluminum
  • Delaware police armed car

As stated and shown earlier, DSP patrol vehicles have run standard-issue passenger-numbered license plates "out of the box" with no reserved number blocs. It is believed, but not confirmed that DSP patrol vehicles validated these regular passenger license plates with annual EXEMPT validation decals during the 1960's into the 1970's and intermittently during the 1980's. If this is the case, the following decals give you a sense of what was used to validate DSP plates during this time frame.

Delaware police decal Delaware police decal Delaware police decal
Delaware police decal Delaware police decal Delaware police decal
Delaware 1971 police car
  • Delaware license plateCirca 1963-1973 DSP front plate.
    Also possibly an "unofficial" issue but became popular with troopers at that time.
    No painted border.
  • Delaware police armed car
  • Delaware license plateCirca 1970-1973? front plate.
    Reflective Gold/buff over dark blue-green.
    STATE POLICE in raised (but not embossed) reflective letters.
    Features validation decal "navel" in lower right corner.
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  • Delaware license plateCirca 1973?-late 1970's front plate.
    All-screened reflective yellow-gold over blue-green.
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  • Delaware license plate1973 EXEMPT decal over 1972 PASSENGER (red) decal.
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  • Delaware license platePassenger type with 1974 EXEMPT decal on base plate in 400000 series.
    There were no reserved number blocs for DSP patrol vehicles.
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  • Delaware license platePassenger series with EXEMPT decal showing 1975 expiry below wear.
    Plate has rivetted numerals. Unusual type.

    (Courtesy Bill Ceravola)
  • Delaware license plate
  • Delaware police car and officer
  • Delaware license plateCirca 1989-? Front plate. Believed to also be "unofficial" issue that some troopers had made by highway department.
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  • Delaware license plateConfirmed DSP plate utilizing December 1985 validation decal. Possibly used on unmarked car.
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car, officer and canine
  • Delaware license platePassenger series with 1986 EXEMPT decal.
    Not confirmed for use by DSP at this time, but possible.
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  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware license plateExplosive Ordinance Disposal Team special unit front plate. All-screened.

    (Courtesy Robert Ward)
  • Delaware police truck
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car2013 90th Anniversary issue. Screened aluminum.
    Black, Yellow etc over reflective blue.
    This attractive plate was assigned to the front of the DSP's recruiting vehicle, a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe.
    Sadly this plate was a "one and only" and not deployed to the remainder of the DSP fleet for this milestone occasion.
  • Delaware police car
  • Delaware police car
    (Courtesy Capt. Jason Sapp)

  • Delaware police car
    (Courtesy Capt. Jason Sapp)




Delaware State Police Motorcycle License Plates

  • Delaware 1926 motorcycle license plateStandard m/c issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 5 1/4" x 7 1/2". Yellow over black.
  • Delaware 1920 police motorcycle and officer
  • Delaware 1931 motorcycle license plateStandard m/c issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 4" x 7 ". Blue over yellow..
  • Delaware police motorcycle and officer
  • Delaware police troopers on motorcycle
  • Delaware police motorcycle license plateStandard m/c issue. Flat screened steel with standard validation decal.
    Approx. 8" x 9 ". Reflective yellow-gold over blue-green.
  • Delaware police motorcycle
  • Delaware police motorcycle license plate
  • Delaware police motorcycle
  • Delaware police motorcycle troopers
  • Delaware police motorcycle license plateStandard m/c issue. Screened metal
    Approx. 4" x 7 ".
    Reflective buff over blue-green. Regular expiration decal.
    (Courtesy Bruce Von Goerres)
  • Delaware police motorcycle(Courtesy Bruce Von Goerres)




Delaware State Police Auxiliary License Plates

During and shortly after World War II, and with many DSP troopers deployed overseas for the fight against the Axis powers, there was a vacuum left behind at home for this loss of sworn DSP personnel. Auxiliary State Police Officers were sworn-in and deployed to fill in where DSP troopers were not numerous enough to fulfill the mandate of public safety. Much of their duties involved securing of facilites and infrastructure vital to the economy and utility of Delaware. These Auxiliary Officers were tied-in to the Civil Defense of the day and comprised mainly of military veterans and other civic-minded volunteers for state law enforcement.

  • Delaware police signDelaware State Police Auxiliary license plate "topper". Made of aluminum with black over reflective yellow-gold field. Attached atop front plate of personal vehicle.
    Courtesy Cpl/2 Edward Sebastianelli
  • Delaware police patch
  • Delaware police signLicense plate topper. Painted metal. Approx. 3 1/2" x 6". "Auto Glo" reflective paint.
    Notice word AUXILIARY is misspelled
  • police plate topper




Delaware State Trooper Association License Plates

The Delaware State Troopers Association commissioned a variety of designs and layouts as optional front plates since the 1980's. These were not official DSP issues, but some DSP troopers ran these plates on the front of their patrol vehicles.
It is not known which ones came out first and which ones followed suit. Any confirmation in this regard would be greatly appreciated.

  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue- Dark blue over reflective yellow.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue on front of DSP Camaro
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue- Dark blue over reflective white.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue- Yellow over reflective blue.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue- Dark blue over reflective champagne.
    Flat screened aluminum w/oblong holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue- Dark blue over reflective champagne center over reflective white.
    Flat screened aluminum w/oblong holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA 1998 issue- Commemorative DSP 75th (Diamond) Anniversary. Black, gold and blue over reflective white. Blue diamond.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA 1998 issue- Commemorative DSP 75th (Diamond) Anniversary. Dark blue over reflective gold. Badge design.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes

    (Courtesy Robert Ward)
  • Delaware license plateDSTA 1998 issue- Commemorative DSP 75th (Diamond) Anniversary. Dark blue over reflective champagne.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue- Dark blue over reflective yellow.
    Flat screened aluminum w/circular holes

    (Courtesy Robert Ward)
  • Delaware license plateDSTA issue. Embosssed thin aluminum.
    Gold over blue-green with white. Long oblong holes
  • Delaware license plateSouvenir issue for National Troopers Coalition conference that DSP co-hosted with Maryland State Police. Flat screened aluminum. Reflective white background w/circular holes
  • Delaware license plateSouvenir issue for National Troopers Coalition conference 2007. Embossed thin aluminum w/oblong holes
  • Delaware license plate




Delaware State Police Retired License Plates

Retired members of the Delaware State Police have the option of running distinctive "Delaware State Police- Retired" license plates on their personal vehicles.

  • Delaware police license plateUnofficial issue front plate. All-reflective flat screened aluminum with full-colored DSP crest and RETIRED in blue.
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  • Delaware police license plateOfficial issue- Reflective gold over blue-green.
    DSP RETIRED emblem followed by SP prefix followed by number up to 3 digits.
    Validated annually.
  • Delaware police license plate


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