NCSHP Honors the Past and Looks to the Future at 90 Year Celebration

Blue program that reads, "Celebrating 90 Years of Excellence in Law Enforcement Service to NC." Black and white photo of trooper standing next to car underneath.
Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 3:04pm

On July 1, 1929, after the General Assembly authorized the State Highway Patrol’s creation, 37 individuals took an oath of office and became North Carolina’s first state troopers. These patrol members monitored miles of highway on Harley Davidson motorcycles, enforcing motor vehicle laws and assisting the motoring public. 

Fast forward 90 years, the highway patrol stands more than 1,600 sworn members strong with additional civilian employees who provide telecommunications, medical or administrative support.

North Carolina’s troopers now sport Dodge Chargers and BMW Police Touring motorcycles in their daily patrol to keep our highways safe. Troopers cover around 78,000 miles of roadways, more than any other state except Texas. 

Members of the highway patrol, their families and other supporters gathered at the state Capitol on June 28 to celebrate the patrol’s 90 years of service and commemorate their commitment to public safety. 

The celebration consisted of a formal ceremony inside the old house chamber, with an open exhibit across the Capitol grounds immediately following. Historic patrol cars, the SHP Caisson Unit, past uniforms and other memorabilia were on display.  

“The entire event was fun and informative,” said state employee Kelly Higgins. “My co-worker and I enjoyed the opportunity to walk around the Capitol grounds and view the historic highway patrol vehicle and memorabilia displays. It was also a pleasure to meet the Caisson Unit horses Ellie and Nellie, who seemed to enjoy the attention.”

During the ceremony, Governor Roy Cooper, Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks, Representative Stephen Ross, NCDOT Board Chairman Michael Fox and Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr. spoke on the significance of the day and the progression of the patrol during the last 90 years. 

“Ninety years of service is all about the patrol’s family, sworn and civilian personnel alike—sworn and civilian active, sworn and civilian retired,” said Colonel McNeill during his keynote address. “They are why our organization continues to flourish. Our people are our greatest assets.”

Many recognized that the patrol would not be where it is today without the bravery, determination and sacrifice of its members—be it time, sleep or the ultimate sacrifice. Since the patrol’s inception, 66 members have lost their lives in the line of duty. These members were honored through a moment of silence and candle lighting. 

A highlight of the ceremony was the recognition of Trooper D. C. Harrell by Colonel McNeill. Trooper Harrell has been recuperating since being wounded in the line of duty earlier this year. Though still recovering, Trooper Harrell was in full uniform for the first time since the incident. He received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

The 90th Anniversary Celebration gave past patrol members the opportunity to reminisce about their time on the patrol, current members the chance to dive into the past, and North Carolinians the ability to connect with a piece of the state’s law enforcement history.  

The patrol will be kicking off their 149th Basic Patrol School in August, training new members to continue the legacy of this law enforcement organization.


View all the photos from the 90th Anniversary Celebration on Flickr.

Kirsten Barber