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State Police…not Highway Patrol

Hopefully, you haven't run into one of West Virginia's finest in a business environment. Our state has realistic speed limits and, except for a few local speed traps, traffic enforcement is fair and reasonable. Our State Police have other duties in addition to patrolling our highways. Unlike most states who have a Highway Patrol that is strictly involved with law enforcement on the roads, the West Virginia police have an investigatory function as well. They even have an undercover division that investigates fraud and drug violations among other things.

West Virginia created its state police agency in 1919, making it the fourth oldest police force of its kind in the US. The original troopers were all WWI veterans. If you've seen our troopers, you've seen their distinctive forest green uniforms…a rare color for police uniforms. In 1919, there was a garment workers strike which was making it difficult for the state to get uniforms for its new police department. So, the troopers were asked to temporarily wear their old army uniforms...the forest green ones. Once the state started providing uniforms, they chose to continue with the green color. It blended into the foliage (useful in undercover work) and it didn't show dirt readily. A trooper may have been on duty at a coal mine strike or staking out a moonshine still all night and then have to testify in court in the morning…without a chance to change uniforms. With the forest green outfits, he could still have a shot at looking presentable. Over the years, the cut of the uniforms has changed but the color has remained the same.