Colonel Lyle Hyatt
Upon Colonel Snow’s resignation in 1955, Governor Lee appointed Trooper Lyle Hyatt, an 11 year veteran of the Patrol, to the position of Colonel. His appointment became effective March 1, 1955. A native of Price, Lyle joined the department as a patrolman on September 19, 1944. He described himself as a career law enforcement officer. He understood troopers and he implemented several changes for their benefit. Colonel Hyatt’s goals for the Patrol consisted of strict enforcement, better equipment, more officers, changes in the uniform, and better training.
The two division chiefs, Lieutenant E. Ross McDonald and Lieutenant Paul Christensen, reported that the number one problem with the rising death toll was “too much speed.” Officers were issuing numerous citations for speeds of 90 to 100 mph. In 1955, the Patrol ordered four radars. These units were assigned to the roving patrols in unmarked cars. Immediately, the number of citations issued increased significantly. The following year, six additional radars were purchased and ten additional patrolmen were hired. During the first 10 months of operation, 4,452 speed citations and 10,026 speed warnings were issued with radar. In 1955, warnings were noted on a person’s driving record. An accumulation of several warnings could result in the motorist being summoned by the Driver License Division for a special examination to determine their fitness to continue to drive.
Colonel Hyatt did not like the “smoky” hat and in 1955 phased it out. Many long time members of the Patrol resisted this change and continued to wear this hat when away from the watchful eye of headquarters. Colonel Hyatt did implement several welcome changes in the uniform. Since the beginning of the Patrol, the long sleeve shirt and tie were worn all year. Uniforms were made of wool and patrol cars were not equipped with air conditioning. In 1955, the Salt Lake City Police and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office adopted a short sleeve “summer” shirt. The Patrol authorized a short sleeve shirt with an open collar and no tie in 1956, to be worn from June 1st to August 31st only. Service stars were implemented in 1956. Worn above the right pocket, each star represented five years of service. Name plates were issued in 1958. In 1959, the Patrol authorized a dress blouse, the first since phasing out the dark blue uniform in 1943. A poll of troopers favored a return of the campaign hat for use with the dress blouse. Many believed that the “smoky” hat was the mark of a state trooper. Under pressure from Colonel Hyatt, administration refused to return to the campaign hat.
Colonel Hyatt asked the 1957 legislature for $75,000 to build a police academy. The legislature denied his request. Also in 1957, several sergeants attended a class at the University of Utah to learn about radioactivity. Each sergeant was issued a “radiation detection unit” and received specific instructions to monitor radiation in case of an atomic attack in the United States. This training was under the direction of Dr. Thomas J. Parmley (director of radiological work for the Utah Civil Defense program) and Dr. Ray L. Doran of the University of Utah.
On October 31, 1957, the Patrol announced the damage release sticker program, in an attempt to catch hit and run drivers. The program required all police officers to place a sticker on the windshield of any vehicle involved in an accident. Garages which repaired a damaged vehicle which did not display this sticker would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of up to $299 and six months in jail. The program was implemented in 1958 and proved to be very successful. During the first year of operation, reported accidents statewide increased 40 percent.