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Department of Public Safety

The 1951 legislature created the Department of Public Safety. The Utah Highway Patrol became a division of this new department. Other divisions included the Driver License Division, the Financial Responsibility Division, and the State Bureau of Criminal Identification. The Utah Safety Council also derived part of its appropriation through this new Department. Colonel Dudler was appointed as the first Commissioner of Public Safety. He served in this dual role until May 1952 when retired FBI Agent Jay C. Newman was appointed Commissioner by Governor Lee. In 1951, the Utah Highway Patrol also celebrated 25 years since the first full-time patrolman was hired.

In a prepared statement issued January 19, 1951, Governor Lee noted, “The alarming increase in the number of traffic fatalities has confronted the state with a most serious problem. Most of these accidents were the result of human failures of one kind or another, and with proper precaution might have been avoided.”

“I am calling upon all law enforcement agencies to intensify their activities in traffic law enforcement,” he continued. “Finally, I am directing the state Highway Patrol superintendent to increase the hours state troopers spend patrolling highways until we are able to cope with this serious situation.”

Colonel Dudler immediately ordered all troopers to work 10 hours per day, seven days a week in response to the Governor’s order. Civil service pay for state troopers did not provide for overtime; therefore, the additional hours were worked without pay. Colonel Dudler also requested additional troopers from the legislature to further stem the rising death rate.

Colonel Dudler’s requests were granted, and on July 1st, 20 additional patrolmen were hired. They received three weeks of training at the University of Utah. Their starting salary was $235 per month. Included in this group of new hires was John D. Rogers, Mark L. Birch, Lamar W. Horrocks and Howard W. Powell.

In 1953, Colonel Dudler ordered several unmarked patrol cars to add to the fleet of black and white units in an attempt to catch habitual violators and reduce the death toll.