Patrol celebrates 85 years

Zoe Greszler • Nov 15, 2018 at 4:29 PM

The state Highway Patrol is celebrating 85 years. Today marks its official anniversary.

“On this date in 1933, the first 60 patrolmen graduated from Camp Perry and reported to their assignments. Since then, countless men and women have remained committed to promoting safety and delivering professional service to the citizens of Ohio. We thank you all for your support,” the patrol posted on its state headquarters’ Facebook page Thursday. 

Norwalk post commander Lt. Charles Gullett has been with the division for 23 years and said the anniversary is just one more testament the organization’s consistency.

“I feel like we have the values of compassion, professionalism and dedication — that’s what the division is known for,” he said. “While we’re out on the roadway, our main goal is to reduce fatal traffic crashes and to save lives. I feel like we display that professionalism everyday with motorists and in the way we interact with other organizations.”

Gullett said a big part of troopers job is showing compassion, especially when a fatal accident does occur. The post commander said he’s had to deliver the bad news more than once and seen it done several times in a kind and empathetic manner. 

“Those times when you have to relay the message that someone’s not coming home, those call for a lot of compassion,” he said. “Not only have I had to do it, I’ve seen our guys do it in a very kind way. It’s not easy. ... It’s a hard thing to do.”

Preventing fatal crashes, and thus delivering those heart breaking messages — is part of what drives the patrol in its mission. Gullet said that happens in big and small ways. 

The patrol has several programs that help to make the roadways a little safer, both for individual drivers, and all those on the roadway around them. 

The programs aimed at reducing fatal crashes include those educating drivers on trends the patrol has seen in citations and fatality causes seen in the local area. Gullett said that could be something as simple as promoting wearing seatbelts or their “don’t drink and drive” slogan.

Other programs are larger, such as with the safe community programs where the patrol teams up to form partnerships with other law enforcement agencies. 

“We’re also looking to remove the criminal element from the roadways,” Gullett said. “I think it’s because of those that traffic fatalities have been lower the past few years than they have been.”

Besides adding programs and partnerships, over the past 85 years, he said the patrol has grown in its “personnel, diversity and continues to promote leadership through the ranks.” Also, Gullett said the technology and equipment provided to troopers has improved with time as well.

“The technology, training and equipment given to the officers on the roadway, it’s helped them to do their job better and to be more efficient,” Gullett said.

The future continues to look bright as the agency looks ahead to the next 85 years.

“I see us continuing to build with what the division has already developed — the men and women we’ve trained and the values we hold,” Gullett said.

“I see us continuing to build on the values that we’ve stood on for the last 85 years and to continue to find ways to make the roadways and to make the communities better, and safer for everyone to live in. We’re going to continue to rededicate ourselves to our mission of saving lives.”

The patrol was founded in 1933 under the command of Col. Lynn Black.

Originally, the patrol used solid black cars with the “flying wheel” design on the door. In 1966, white cruisers made their appearance on the Ohio Turnpike. By 1972, all vehicles were white, which they remained until 1982 when they moved to sterling silver. The silver cars remained until 1991.

In 1992, they moved to dark gray cruisers marked with the famous “flying wheel” insignia on the doors . A yellow stripe ran the length of the cars to make them more visible to motorists, in the hopes of avoiding trooper deaths related to accidents in Northern Ohio’s strong winter storms.

However, in 2002, the decision was made to transition the fleet back to white-colored patrol vehicles with larger light bars in response to a number of incidents where troopers were killed by inattentive motorists.

Marked cruisers are once again silver. The emergency lighting system is now all blue with two red lights in the grille. The patrol utilizes a variety of vehicles, including Dodge Chargers, Ford Explorers and Chevrolet Tahoes.

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