Utah Department of Public Safety

Highway Patrol - World War II

Besides reorganizing the Utah Highway Patrol, the 1941 Utah Legislature passed two proclamations granting the Governor special authority to invoke a state of emergency due to impending war. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. On December 8, 1941, Governor Herbert B. Maw declared that a state of emergency existed in Utah.

Both proclamations were issued at this time. The first proclamation regulated the manufacture, sale, distribution, use, and possession of explosives. The second act authorized the appointment of and describing the duties of special policemen to protect public property. The state of Utah was looking for volunteers to help guard water supplies, railroads, power plants, mines, and smelters. A call was sent out for recruits with skills in skiing, shooting, and mountaineering. A fear of terrorist activity swept the nation. Six additional patrolmen were hired "during the duration of the war to patrol on a 24-hour basis a district vital to the nation’s war effort."

This brought the force of the Utah Highway Patrol to 75 officers. Governor Maw solicited the help of the Utah Highway Patrol to train 350 volunteers in first aid, traffic law, and general police work. Applicants had to have the approval of the patrolman in their respective area and that of the local county sheriff. These men were designated as "Deputy Highway Patrolmen" and were issued badges to that effect. In addition, all peace officers in Utah - sheriffs, city police, marshals, watchmen and guards - were sworn in as special state police, to assist in the war defense effort. The UHP was often called upon to provide military escorts and additional security at government facilities during World War II. On several occasions, it became necessary for Patrol personnel to enter military bases. Due to high levels of security at these facilities, admittance was often denied except for officers. To solve this problem, Colonel Dow promoted all sergeants to the rank of lieutenant during World War II. Following the war, the rank of sergeant was not reinstated until a change in administration in 1949.

The legislature also empowered Governor Maw, as Chief Executive of the State and Chairman of the Utah Defense Council, to order peace officers from one community to assist those in another. In a letter addressed to chiefs of police and sheriffs, Colonel Dow wrote, "No community will be subject to having police from another municipality imposed upon it without the request coming first from its own police head." Dow continued, "And conversely, no community will have any of its police officers taken from its jurisdiction without the advance approval of its own chief of police or sheriff."

In addition, the 1941 legislature prescribed that all accidents resulting in a property damage of $25 or more, a personal injury or death must be reported to the State Tax Commission within 24 hours. The 17th Biennial Report of the State Road Commission covering 1940-1942 states, "Chapter 52, Regular Session laws, brings the statutes regulating traffic on highways in line with the latest revision of the uniform traffic laws, as proposed by the National Safety Council. Daytime maximum speed is raised to 60 m.p.h. and the former maximum speed of 50 m.p.h. retained as the maximum for night driving. Speed in business districts is raised from 20 to 25 mph."

For several years the death rate on Utah’s highways increased significantly. In January 1942, Colonel Dow announced a crack down on violators of all traffic laws. Colonel Dow also notified the public that hereafter patrol cars will be of "many colors," instead of the uniform black. He added that the scarcity of automobiles due to the defense program had made it impossible for the Patrol to continue with a uniform color.

[Last Update - Thursday, 19-Dec-2013 12:24:23 MST]