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Sixth Sense

Patrolmen and Troopers of the Utah Highway Patrol soon learned to observe minor details to solve major crimes. This close observance of irregularities has often been called a “sixth sense.” More recently this technique has been labeled “pro-active patrol” and “criminal interdiction.” The following case is but one example of how troopers developed this technique during the 1950s.

On June 24, 1959, Trooper Neil Bishop stopped a 1958 Chevrolet for speeding near Delle, Utah. The vehicle displayed a California plate; however, the rear plate did not have any expiration decal. The male driver was unable to produce a valid driver license. In the vehicle were three male passengers. Trooper Bishop separated the driver from the passengers and questioned him. The driver stated he was from Barstow, California, but could not tell Trooper Bishop the highway number passing through Barstow. Neil contacted UHP dispatch in Salt Lake City. Radio operator George Jimerson checked the files and was unable to confirm stolen status on California plate RNZ 330. Trooper Bishop requested additional assistance and Weighmen “Doc” Wilson and Ned Deuel responded from the Wendover Checking Station.

Checking closer, Weighman Deuel found the expiration sticker on the front plate. A search of the vehicle produced four Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolvers, one Ithaca, .45 caliber sub-machine gun, a box of .38 caliber, 200 grain bullets, and a Nevada license plate, W6373. A check of the plate confirmed the vehicle was stolen. The weapons had been stolen from a military base. The driver was Gerald R. Camper, an escapee from a detention camp of the U. S. Marine Corps. The three male passengers were found to be hitch-hikers and had no knowledge of the crimes.

In 1959, Trooper Bishop had never heard the term “criminal interdiction.” Trooper Bishop simply knew that criminals often crossed the country on major interstate highways. He also knew that observant officers could apprehend these bandits by noting small discrepancies, such as a validation sticker on the wrong plate.

Troopers throughout Utah were experiencing this same success. Many stolen vehicles are recovered not by attempt-to-locate broadcasts or by simply running a license plate by NCIC. Veteran troopers learn to act upon their sixth sense and investigate further. The Utah Highway Patrol has excelled in the apprehension of felons.