By Alanna Radle Rodriguez and Judge Rodriguez
Thank you for joining us this month as we start our new series about first responders in our great state.
First allow us to say: we wish to pay our respects to the brave men and women of our military, and let them know our thoughts and prayers are with them, particularly those currently on deployment outside our country and away from their families.
However, we also wish to add our gratitude to those that serve outside of our military forces as well. Also called the Thin Blue Line, this group of dedicated public servants serve to keep us, our families, and our property safe. Our hats are off to you, and our gratitude for all you do, and to your families.
After the different land runs, there was a distinct need for peacekeepers. Until the territory had been opened up for white settlement, “keeping the natives at bay” was handled by the U.S. Army, in particular, the Cavalry. Now that the settlers had been able to form their own towns/cities, it was incumbent on them to create their own force of peacekeepers. The United States Marshall’s service had representatives throughout the territory, but were few and far between.
The different newly formed townships had their own force to keep law and order. However, until control was taken over by the State of Oklahoma in 1915, there was another force that assisted with military control as well. That group was the regional Militia. When the state took over control, it turned in to the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
I mention this group because, in 1911 when the Oklahoma Department of Transportation was created, they needed a group to be able to base the law enforcement training on. Starting with the first class of graduates in 1937, The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has been tasked with keeping law and order on the state and federal highways of Oklahoma.
The uniform of the Highway Patrol is partly based on that of the Regional Militia, with brown trousers, and a tan stripe going down the side, and with (originally) cavalry boots. This is much in the style of the traditional uniform for the US Cavalry and their blue trousers with the yellow stripe.
In the first nine months of operation, the troopers issued over a quarter of a million warnings and had over five thousand arrests. In the last eighty years, however, the role for the Highway Patrol has migrated into other arenas.
Today, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has been tasked with Public Information Services, Capitol Patrol / Capitol Security, Marine Enforcement (in particular, they handle water safety on the rivers and lakes in the state), Training, Bomb Squad, SWAT, Motorcycle safety (the “flying squadron” or “mobile cavalry squadron”), Aircraft Safety, Special Operations (formerly Criminal Interdiction, whose team members , and Audits on fraudulent drivers licenses.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is currently under the Department of Public safety. With 800 Troopers statewide, OHP is considered one of the top law enforcement groups in the country, with some of the most up to date equipment, and personnel training.
We hope you join us in paying respect to the fine men and women that put their lives on the line every day to ensure that the highways and byways of this great state are kept as safe as possible. Please join us next month as we start discovering the other part of the Thin Blue Line: Oklahoma Police Departments.
Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, Alanna Radle Rodriguez is the great-great granddaughter of one of the first pioneers to settle in Indian Territory. Alanna loves the history of the state and relishes in volunteering at the 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse in Edmond. Her first published story, part of a collaborative novella titled Legacy Letters, came out September 2016. Alanna lives with her husband and parents in the Edmond area. She is currently working on a historical fiction series that takes place in pre-statehood Waterloo, Oklahoma.