Highway Patrol marks 75th anniversary

The North Dakota Highway Patrol is celebrating its 75th year.

“Through their sacrifice and commitment to excellence, our employees, past and present, have forged this department into the internationally-accredited law enforcement agency that it is today,” Superintendent James Prochniak said in a statement.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol was created by the 1935 Legislative Assembly when the state highway commissioner was given authority to appoint the first Highway Patrol superintendent, according to a news release from the patrol.

In 1936, five men were hired to enforce the laws relating to the protection and use of the public highways in the state. The patrol now has 139 sworn positions.

Notable changes in the past 75 years include a law passed in 1947 making it necessary for all new drivers to take a driver’s examination. The responsibility to conduct these examinations fell to the Highway Patrol.

In 1969, the patrol was given the responsibility of regulating all commercial driver training schools in the state. In 1971, responsibilities were expanded to include the operation of the Law Enforcement Training Center in Bismarck. 

Other agency highlights include developing an agency K-9 program, coordinating the implementation of an AMBER Alert plan for North Dakota, and incorporating department aircraft capabilities into enforcement and search and rescue operations.

Past and present employees will commemorate the anniversary with a banquet in August.