Return to Main Page
We Served With Honor, Dignity, Pride and Integrity
History of the Maryland State Police
The First Fifty
First Maryland Road Patrol
In the days of Governor Phillip
Lee Goldsborough and Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, Harry A.
Roe. The state started registering motor vehicles in 1914. Gov.
Goldsborough authorized Commission Roe to start patrolling the
highways with several motorcycles deputies. They were to enforce
the Motor Vehicle Laws that were passed by the Legislature in
1904. The Motor Vehicle Law had a total of ten (10) sections
and took effect on April 12, 1904. As time went on, registered
vehicles reached 104,821. By that time there were 12 motorcycles
deputies state wide, who found themselves overwhelmed. Even
then there were newspaper articles calling for some type of
a State Police Force.
Then 1916 Gov.
Harrington took no action to form any type of police to
handle a growing problem. The only way they had to deal with
public disorder was to call out the state militia. This was
at a great expense and a problem.
Maryland's neighboring state
Pennsylvania had the same problem. In 1907
they formed a unit called "The Pennsylvania State Constabulary",
consisted of 228 constables.
But still in 1919 still no
state force, even though E. Austin Baughman took
over as commissioner of Motor Vehicles in 1918. But when Governor
Albert C. Ritchie became Governor in 1920. He formed a force
of a motorcycle police to patrol state roads. They were called
the Maryland State Police Force, or sometimes the state police
force of Maryland. But they would still be under the control
of the commissioner of Motor Vehicles, Major Enoch Barton
This force was started with 38 officers, on Feb. 10, 1921, commanded
by Captain Roger H. Williams. All these officers were employees
of the Motor Vehicle Department.
For the next ten years, the
push was on, inside the state force and outside
the state force to form a State Police Department as an independent
The State Legislature made an effort in 1929, and a delegation
members of the force in 1931 who were accused of mutiny. But
The First 50
After a long hard battle from
1914 to 1935, to form an independent state police force, going
through four governors and many interesting events, it finally
happened. Even though there were many groups in Maryland who
pushed for some kind of State Police force back in 1913 and
on through 1920, the only highway police at that time was a
few motorcycle deputies in 1914, authorized by Gov. Phillip
Lee Goldsborough. When Gov, Emerson C. Harrington took over
in 1916 all that happened was the addition of more motorcycle
Finally in 1920 when Gov. Alber
C. Ritchie became Governor. One of the first things he did was
to form a force of motorcycle officers to patrol roads. They
were called The Maryland State Police Force or sometimes the
State Police Force of Maryland. But they would still be under
the control of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. Still no
State Police Department as an independent unit.
Like Gov. Goldsborough and
Haddington who would not change their motorcycle Deputies, Gov.
Ritchie would not go for an Independent State Police unit. Gov.
Ritchie was able to control efforts by the State Legislature
in 1929 when they tried to establish a State Police Department.
The Bill never got out of committee.
Then in 1931 a Bill in the
House of Delegates tried again to form a state
police force. This time the House Bill had the support of several
uniformed members of the Motor Vehicle Department's State Police.
One of these men was a Lieutenant who was acting commander of
Field Operations. He even led a uniformed member delegation
in calling on Gov. Ritchie to ask support for the House of Delegates
Bill. The Governor denied their request and they were all accused
of being part of a mutiny. The bill was defeated.
So. much like the Governor
before him. Gov. Ritchie did not want to change. So. when Gov.
Harry W. Nice took office in 1935, one of his first actions
was to come over to the side of the "Mutineers" and
formed the Department of Maryland State Police as a separate
branch of state government. Finally the MSP was born. On June
2, 1935, 54 troopers of the Maryland State Police were given
their Oath of Office. Thus they will
always be known as the "The First Fifty".
The new Triangle shoulder patch
was born and carried the title of the
Maryland State Police. The superintendent was Major J. Purdom
Wright. He was the first superintendent for MSP and only for
less than a year. But,
in his short time in office he started switching over to police
cars, fazing out the motorcycle and horses. In a very short
time there was Teletype, fingerprinting and establishment of
a police school. By 1938 with fewer than 100 officers they had
established of nine sub-stations linked by two-way radios in
the radio equipped cruisers.
So the first 50, with the help
of Gov. Harry W. Nice who formed the MSP, and Superintendent
Major J. Purdow Wright and Major Enoch Barton Carey, did quite a
job forming up the Maryland State Police.
Many of these First Fifty served
MSP over 40 years. Names like Capt. Louis Bloom, 2nd. Lt. Ben
Cecil, Lt. Col. Wilbur Conroy, Lt. Col. George E. Davidson,
Capt. Menasha E. Katz, Major Wilson C. McVey, Capt. Earl W.
Reith, Sr. and one of the most famous troopers of the days,
Lt. Col. William (Hap) Weber. Col. Weber later during his retirement
became President of The Maryland State Police Alumni also.
Along the way many events occurred
to make the First Fifty famous, but that is another story.
The current Maryland
State Police Badge
badge of the
Maryland State Police was adopted in 1950. It was designed by
Mr. Edwin Tunis, a well know artist from Maryland, and is an
adaptation of the shield in the State of Maryland Seal.
The shield bears the Arms of
the Calvert and Crossland families. Calvert was the family name
of the Lords Baltimore
who founded Maryland. Crossland was the family of the mother of
the first Lord Baltimore.
The black and gold colors are
the Baltimore Arms. The red and silver colors are the Crossland
Arms. The Maryland Flag bears the same Arms.
The Maryland State Police was
formed in 1921 to enforce the motor vehicle laws of the State.
In 1935 they became a separate branch
of state government, and were charged with preventing and
detecting crime, to apprehend criminals and to enforce the
criminal and motor vehicle laws.
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.