Statewide Police Authority
The Patrol had only limited authority in the beginning. Often violators would pull over immediately when they saw the red light. Then they would run to the right of way fence and standing on private property, thumb their nose at the officer, daring him to arrest them. Other police officers were experiencing this same problem, because their authority stopped at the boundaries to the city or county which they represented. In an address to the Utah Peace Officers Association in 1934, Honorable Tillman Johnson, Judge of the United States District Court of Utah, addressed this problem. Judge Johnson stated, “Why, there isn’t a policeman in the State of Utah that ought not to be a State Officer with as much right to arrest in St. George as in Ogden City if he is a policeman in Ogden. And there isn’t any reason in the world,” Judge Johnson continues, “Why a police officer or a sheriff or a deputy sheriff shouldn’t go to the very boundary limits of the State of Utah for the arrest of criminals and the discharge of their duties.” (Utah Sheriff and Police – 1934, page 13 & 15.) The Utah Legislature corrected this problem for the Utah Highway Patrol by granting them full statewide police authority.
On March 21, 1935, the Utah Highway Patrol was “vested with the same powers and duties as police officers … except the serving of civil process.” The patrol was also made subject to the call of the Governor in times of emergency or “other purposes of his discretion.” (Laws of Utah, 1935, Chapter 36, State Road Commission Sec. 12.)