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Missouri State Highway Patrol was created in 1931 by an act of the 56th Missouri General Assembly. Although this new Highway Patrol's authorized strength was set at 125 uniformed officers, due to limited appropriations, the Patrol began with 55 officers and a handful of civilians.

In 1932, the small and new force of patrolmen made over 38,000 arrests, recovered 381 stolen vehicles, arrested 14 bank robbers and solved several murders. The Patrol operated as an independent agency under the control of the executive branch until the Omnibus State Reorganization Act of 1974 made it a division of the Department of Public Safety.

The MSHP patrols out of nine Troops which are divided into zones throughout the Show Me State. Since its inception in 1931, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has evolved from simply a highway patrolling force to a full-service, accredited law enforcement agency.

While enforcing traffic laws and promoting safety on Missouri's approximately 33,000 miles of state- maintained highways remains the Patrol's primary responsibility, the Patrol has been tasked by the Governor and the legislature with many additional law enforcement duties including: motor vehicle inspection, commercial vehicle enforcement, driver's license examinations, criminal investigations, criminal laboratory analysis and research, public education, gaming enforcement, law enforcement training, and more.

In 1992 the Missouri State Highway Patrol became only the 10th State Police/Highway Patrol to receive accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This accreditation demonstrates the Patrol's commitment to professionalism and acceptance of high standards of excellence in law enforcement. This process also provides an ongoing evaluation of the Patrol's policies and procedures so that it may continue to grow and improve in the future.

By the 2000s the Missouri State Highway Patrol has grown to include more than 1,400 uniformed civilians and support staff, and 1,100 uniformed members.





License Plates of the Missouri State Highway Patrol


Missouri police car image

It has been stated that the Missouri State Highway Patrol has been using distinct "agency-specific" license plates since its formation in 1931. There is no known surviving specimen of a 1931 MSHP license plate to date, but the size and layout was said to be the same as those of the immediate years that followed. The plate was made of embossed steel and measured approximately 6 3/4 inches by 12 inches. The plate had four small circular mounting holes at each corner and two longer mounting slots at the top of the plate. The characters were painted black over a grey background. The title OFFICIAL CAR was embossed along the top of the plate with STATE over PATROL to the left of two numbers as there were only 43 cars assigned to the Patrol at the time. The bottom line of the plate had 1931 MISSOURI embossed between the two lower mounting holes.
This set the theme for MSHP license plates for the next couple of decades.

  • Missouri police license plate image1932 issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 6 3/4" x 12". White over black.

    Same plate as seen in period photo to the right.
  • Missouri police license plate imageblablabla
  • Missouri police license plate image1933 issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 6 3/4" x 12". Yellow-orange over black.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1934 issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 7" x 12". White over black.
    Rounder dies for numerals.
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  • Missouri police license plate image1935 issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 7" x 12". White over black.
    Mitered dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1936 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    Black over white.
    Rounded dies for numerals.
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  • Missouri police license plate image1937 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over black. Ornate dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1938 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    Black over white.
    Ornate dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1939 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over black.
    Ornate dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1940 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    Black over white.
    Rounded dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
  • Missouri 1939 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1941 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over black.
    Rounded dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1942 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    Black over white.
    Rounded dies for numerals.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
  • Missouri 1942 police car image

With the USA engaging in the World War by this time, efforts to conserve and recycle steel to assist with the nation's war effort took place. Many license plates issued in the Show-Me State in 1942 were made of fibreboard and in 1943 an 8 1/2 inch by 1 1/4 inch embossed white over green strip was issued to validate 1942 license plates for 1943.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is believed to have run their 1942 license plates until the end of World War Two in 1945. They resumed issuing annual license plates for their patrol vehicles in 1946.

  • Missouri police license plate image1946 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over black.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1947 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    Black over white.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1948 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over maroon.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri 1948 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1949 issue. Embossed steel. Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over maroon.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1950-circa 1955 permanent issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 6 3/4" x 10 3/4".
    White over maroon.
    Removal of title OFFICIAL CAR and removal of year of issue.
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  • Missouri 1951 police car image

The 1950's license plate usage for the Missouri State Highway Patrol leaves more questions than answers. This period saw the usage of two different base plates that were also used for passenger car issuance. The first being a 6 inch by 12 inch white over maroon type that was first released in late 1949. It had the state name embossed in large upper-case font on the top-center of the plate. The title STATE was embossed and stacked vertically on the left margin of the plate and PATROL was stacked vertically on the right margin of the plate. The number was situated in the center but flanked on the left by the code PAS (Passenger) TRK (Truck) or TRL (Trailer).
The second type of license plate issued to the MSHP during the 1950's was a yellow/orange over black embossed steel issue. It had the state name embossed in smaller dies in the top center of the plate, the number embossed in the center and STATE PATROL embossed along the bottom center. This color scheme was reflective of the passenger license plate issuance for the state of Missouri from 1956 to 1962. It was in 1962 that Missouri re-introduced the white over maroon style license plate with the state name at the top center of the plate in large upper-case font again.
Some say that the "PAS" issue plate was used from 1962 until 1967. This is possible but not confirmed. A 1955 MSHP Chevrolet at the department's Museum in Jefferson City displays the "PAS" issue plate number 19 on it indicating this issue as what the writer believes to be the early 1950's permanent issue used until the black and yellow plate was introduced in 1956. It is entirely possible that both issues may have been used concurrent with each other or that the "PAS" issue was re-introduced after the black and yellow plates became obsolete. Some confirmation about this would be greatly appreciated.

  • Missouri police license plate imageCirca 1955-1956 issue. Embossed steel. 6" x 12"
    Vehicle designation used: PAS for Passenger, TRK for Truck and TRL for Trailer.
    Also believed by some to have been re-issued from circa 1962-1967. Confirmation needed.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
  • Missouri 1950 police car image
  • Missouri 1956 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1956-1962 issue. Yellow-Orange over black.
    This type may have been used into 1967.
    Confirmation needed.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
  • Missouri 1956 police car image
  • Missouri 1956 police car image(Courtesy Jack Aparicio)
  • Missouri police license plate image1968 issue. Embossed steel.
    White over green. May have been used for 1969 as well.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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1969 issue- Embossed steel. Green over white. MISSOURI over SHP ### (Need Photo)

  • Missouri police license plate image1970 issue. Embossed steel.
    Black over white. Smaller dies for state name.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri 1970 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1971 issue. Embossed steel.
    White over maroon.

    (Courtesy Larry Niederschulte)
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  • Missouri 1970 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1972-1975 issue. Embossed steel.
    Blue over reflective white.
  • Missouri 1972 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1975-circa 1980 issue. Embossed steel.
    Blue over reflective white.
    Reintroduction of title OFFICIAL CAR

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1975-circa 1980 issue. Embossed steel.
    Blue over reflective white.
    Issued to Superintendent of MSHP.
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  • Missouri police license plate image1979-1980 issue. Embossed steel.
    Reflective white over French blue.
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  • Missouri police license plate image1980-1983 issue. Embossed steel.
    Reflective white over maroon.
    First issue depicting trooper's badge number.
    This one belonged to Tpr. William K. Seibert of Troop F who later went on to become the Lieutenant Colonel of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
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1983 saw a "re-plating" of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The new plates were once again made of embossed steel and colored white over maroon. The state name occupied the top center of the plate and the trooper's badge number occupied the center field of the plate. The title STATE HIGHWAY PATROL was embossed along the bottom span of the plate.
These plates were issued in pairs and were used on all marked MSHP vehicles until late Summer of 1989 when an issue nearly identical but utilizing an HP suffix was rolled-out that September. It was stated that each trooper was permitted to retain one plate from the set of the 1983 issue.

  • Missouri police license plate image1983-1989 issue. Embossed steel.
    Matte finish to background color.
  • Missouri police licence plate image1983-1989 issue. Embossed steel.
    Glossy finish to background color.
  • Missouri 1989 police car image
  • Missouri police license plate image1983-1989 issue. Colonel/Superintendent of MSHP.

    (Courtesy Nick Kanaya)
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  • Missouri 1980 police car image
  • Missouri 1989 police car image

In September of 1989, the MSHP had recalled all the 1983 issue license plates with the exception of one plate from each set which the respective trooper could keep. The new plates were similar in layout and coloring to the 1983 issue. The state name appeared slightly different with a more flattened-looking set of S's.
These plates still used the trooper's badge number but this time followed by a rectangular hyphen and the suffix HP.
These plates were used on all marked MSHP vehicles until the next change-over in 1996.

  • Missouri police license plate image1989-1996 issue. Embossed steel.
    Badge number followed by HP suffix.
  • Missouri 1985 police car image1989-1996 issue. Embossed steel.
    Badge number followed by HP suffix.
  • Missouri mustang police car image
  • Missouri 1992 police car image
  • Missouri 1992 police car image

1996 saw a radical departure in design, layout and material used to make Missouri State Highway Patrol license plates. The new plates were made of aluminum and were entirely silkcreened. The only embossing used was to make the step border perimeter of the plate. The design was a fully-reflectorized and graphic style. The background of the plate featured a reflective white background that faded into a gradient of light to dark sea foam green as it progressed from top to bottom. The state name was in a stylized green font with a wavy blue line below it to symbolize the Missouri River. The full-color emblem of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was situated to the far left followed by a silkscreened badge number and HP suffix in dark blue. Some types used a hyphen between the numbers and the HP suffix while others did not. The title STATE HIGHWAY PATROL occupied the lower center field of the plate between the lower mounting holes. The plate also featured a dark blue rectangle with white characters with the words STATE over OF over MISSOURI. Most of these also had an inventory bar code imposed over the lower portion of the image.
These very popular plates continued to be issued to the Patrol until 2008 when a new design was introduced.

  • Missouri police license plate image1996-2008 issue. Flat-screened aluminum.
    Version not using hyphen between number and HP suffix. Bluer shade at bottom.
  • Missouri police license plate1996-2008 issue. Flat-screened aluminum.
    Version using hyphen between number and HP suffix. Greener shade at bottom.
  • Missouri police license plate image1996-2008 issue. Flat-screened aluminum.
    BUCKLE UP plate was assigned to a roll-over simulator for use at fairs and other community events.
    (Courtesy- Terry Bible)
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  • Missouri police car image

2008 saw the introduction of another all-screened all-graphic license plate for the MSHP. This one also used a step border and a reflective white background. This one gradually faded from light blue to powder blue towards the bottom portion of the plate. The state name was once again placed in the top-center of the plate, this time in black as well as the state slogan SHOW ME STATE below it also in black. The full-color emblem of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was located once again at the far left, and the badge number followed by a dash and HP occupied the center of the plate over a depiction of the state outline in blue. The words STATE over OF over MISSOURI are screened in dark blue in the lower right corner of the plate. For the first time ever, the title STATE TROOPER was used on an MSHP license plate and was situated on the bottom-center line of the plate flanking the image of an Eastern Bluebird, the state bird of Missouri.
As of this writing, this plate is still in use by the MSHP and likley will remain in service until 2020.

  • Missouri police license plate image2008-current issue. Flat-screened aluminum.
    "Bluebird issue"

    (Courtesy of Tom Breen)
  • Missouri police car image
  • Missouri police car image



Motorcycle License Plates used by Missouri State Highway Patrol

The earliest known usage of license plates for the MSHP is 1934, but it can be surmised that the agency likely used similar plates going back to 1932 when the distinctive car license plates were issued. The dimensions are estimated at being 3" x 10" and reflected the same color scheme used on the car plates of the day.
Like with most agencies, the use of motorcycles for patrol began to lessen in favor of the car mostly due to the increase in injuries and deaths using the former.
There's a gap in records for motorcycle use between the mid 1950's and the late 1970's. We know that by early 1988 there were still two patrol motorcycles per troop, but that number dropped to having only TWO MSHP cycles at General Headquarters for use in parades and escorts.
We could certainly use any photos/info that can help us fill in the blanks.

  • Missouri police motorcycle image
  • Missouri police license plate image1934 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel.
    White over black.
    Approx. 3" x 10". Run rear only.
    Assigned to Ptlm. Clyde Kinder.

    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
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  • Missouri police license plate image1938 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel.
    Black over white.
    Approx. 3" x 10". Run rear only.

    (Photo below Courtesy Terry Bible)
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  • Missouri police motorcycle image
  • Missouri police license plate image1948 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel.
    White over maroon.
    Approx. 3" x 10". Run rear only.
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  • Missouri police license plate imageCirca 1979 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel.
    White over medium blue. Approx. 4" x 7"

    (Courtesy Terry Bible)
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  • Missouri police license plate imageCirca 1983-1990 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel.
    Approx. 4" x 7"
  • Missouri police motorcycle image
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
  • Missouri police license plate imageCirca 2000-2010 motorcycle issue. Flat screened aluminum.

    (Courtesy Terry Bible)
  • Missouri police motorcycleCirca 2000-2010 motorcycle issue. Flat screened aluminum.
    Miniature version of MSHP car-sized license plate.
    (Courtesy Tom Breen)
  • Missouri police motorcycle image
  • Missouri police license plate image
  • Missouri police license plate image




Missouri State Water Patrol

Missouri State Water Patrol logo

In 1959, legislation was enacted to create the Missouri Boat Commission. The purpose of the commission was to make the waters of the state safe for boating and other water-related activities through law enforcement, registration, inspection and educational programs. In 1974, the Omnibus State Reorganization Act transferred the Missouri Boat Commission to the Department of Public Safety, and the agency was named the Division of Water Safety. In 1989, the agency name was changed to the Missouri State Water Patrol. Effective January 1, 2011 the Water Patrol was placed within the Missouri State Highway Patrol and assigned to the Field Operations Bureau as the Water Patrol Division. Since 1959, the authorized number of patrol officers has grown from eight to 97 highly trained professionals.
The Water Patrol Division is a division of the Highway Patrol, assigned to the regulation of waterways and boating safety. They operate in a quasi-military fashion with authority being delegated by rank. The colonel of the Highway Patrol determines policy for the Water Patrol Division. The division was commanded by a major located at GHQ in Jefferson City. The state is divided into nine troops with a captain in charge of each troop. Troop captains and lieutenants are responsible for the supervision of all field activities in their respective troops. Troopers assigned to those troops are responsible for carrying out the policies of the superintendent and enforcing all motor vehicle and boating laws.
On January 1 2011, House Bill 1868 shifted the Missouri State Water Patrol to the Missouri State Highway Patrol mandated as Water Patrol Division under Field Operations Bureau according to Terry Bible.
As for the issuance of MSWP license plates, it is not certain when they began, but the earliest example of usage so far comes from the era of the 1983-1989 white over maroon embossed steel plates as used by the State Highway Patrol during that time.
The officer's badge number prefaces the suffix WP for the officer's motor vehicle, usually a truck. Suffixes WA, WB, WC are attributed to the trailers assigned to each water vessel under that same badge number.
As a result of the amalgamation of the Water Patrol into the State Highway Patrol, titled "Water Patrol" license plates ceased to be made and issued from 2011 onward.


  • Missouri police license plate image1983-1989 Water Patrol issue. Embossed steel.
    White over maroon.
    Officer's badge number followed by dash and WP suffix for officer's vehicle.
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  • Missouri police license plate imagec.2000-2010 Water Patrol issue. Silkscreened aluminum.
    Officer's badge number followed by WC indicating third vessel trailer to that number.

    (Courtesy Terry Bible)
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  • Missouri police license plate image2008-2011 issue. Flat-screened aluminum.
    Bluebird issue.
    Officer's badge number followed by dash and WP suffix for officer's vehicle.

    (Courtesy Terry Bible)
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  • Missouri police image2008-2011 issue. Flat-screened aluminum.
    Bluebird issue.
    Officer's badge number followed by WA indicating first vessel trailer to that number.


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Specialty Issues

  • Missouri police license plate image
  • Missouri police road sign

    Although "license plate-like" in its appearance, these circa 1930's-1940's black over orange embossed steel plates seen at left were NOT used as a Troop Office sign as previously believed but rather as highway markers to advise motorists that the state highway department also patrolled the highway as per their own mandate.
    Information and in-use photo courtesy Tom Breen- Sign at left courtesy Larry Niederschulte.

    (Courtesy Larry Niederschulte)
  • Missouri police license plate imageNational Troopers Coalition Souvenir plate.
  • Missouri police license plate imageSpecial booster plate. Embossed thin aluminum.
    Issued for 75th Anniversary of the MSHP in 2006.
  • Missouri police license plate imageCirca 2008-Current The Masters personal vehicle issue.
    Available to members of the Missouri State Troopers Emergency Relief Society.

    (Courtesy Terry Bible)
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