Highway Patrol - Changes in Administration
In 1973, Colonel Ray Evans reached the mandatory retirement age of 62. He retired in December and Roy (Mack) Helm was appointed Colonel. In 1975, Colonel Helm changed the uniform hat from the "bus driver" hat back to a tan "smoky" campaign hat. That same year, all field Troopers completed a 40 hour "Crash Injury Management Course" to sharpen their skills in first aid. In November 1975, Colonel Helm was involved in a controversial traffic accident while off duty. Commissioner Jackson served notice of indefinite suspension pending investigation of this incident. In the interim, Ted C. London was appointed acting Colonel. Colonel London had served on the Patrol since January 1941. He had planned to retire in December, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 62.
John D. Rogers was appointed Colonel in January 1976. Colonel Rogers had twice served as Assistant Superintendent and as captain. After serving ten months as Colonel, he asked to be returned to his former position of captain because of health
Robert J. Reid became the ninth superintendent in November 1976. A native of Moab, Colonel Reid began his career in law enforcement as City Marshal of Moab in 1949. He joined the Patrol in 1952. During Colonel Reid’s tenure, many of the policies and procedures of the Patrol were implemented. Colonel Reid greatly increased the upper administration of the Patrol in anticipation of extensive growth on the Patrol. Colonel Reid promoted two officers to the rank of major, a new rank on the Patrol. He also increased the number of captains from four to nine. Colonel Reid stressed uniformity within the Patrol. He stressed the importance of written directives to achieve uniformity, specify acceptable behavior, narrow the range of acceptable discretionary action, and assure reliable performance.
Colonel Reid ordered all troopers to begin enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit at 62 mph. During the next several years, the Patrol issued a record number of speeding citations. Despite this aggressive enforcement, many areas of the state experienced an increase in fatal accidents. During 1977, Utah had the highest percentage increase in fatalities, over the previous year, of any state in the nation. The problem was due largely to heavily traveled sections of I-15 which were not completed. Multiple lane divided highways abruptly channeled traffic to two-way narrow lanes. Impatient drivers attempting to pass were often met by speeding vehicles proceeding in the opposite direction. Multiple fatal accidents were not uncommon on these roadways. One section of unfinished freeway south of Nephi was labeled the "Levan Death Strip" by officers and the media, following 16 deaths in an eight month period during 1977.
Governor Scott M. Matheson traveled to Washington D. C. in an appeal for federal funds to assist the Patrol in enforcement of the 55 mph speed limit. In September 1977, $290,000 in federal funds were appropriated. This was the first of several federal grants used for overtime speed enforcement shifts in an attempt to bring Utah in compliance with federal standards.
Also in 1977, the tan campaign hat was changed to a chocolate brown and a straw campaign hat was adopted for summer wear. As had been the policy for several years on the Patrol, every time a trooper exited his vehicle he was to wear his hat. There was a saying among the ranks "when your foot hits the ground your hat better hit your head."[Last Update - Friday, 20-Dec-2013 11:00:39 MST]