One hundred years ago Sunday, the Maryland State Police was founded.
The statewide police force that tackles both criminal and traffic violations was then-Gov. Albert Ritchie’s solution to growing criminal enterprises thanks to the automobile’s expanding use.
So on Jan. 10, 1921, the first 36 recruits began training at the Pikesville Armory, the state police’s original headquarters. They graduated one month later, marking the inaugural class of the Maryland State Police.
“Every hour of every day for the past 100 years, the men and women of the Maryland State Police have served the people of Maryland with a dedication to duty and a commitment to service that is second to none,” Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III said in a news release.
“The Maryland State Police family is proud of these past 100 years of service to the people of our state. We look forward to the history we will write in the years ahead as we continue to uphold the reputation and tradition of ‘Maryland’s finest.’”
The Maryland State Police’s services and enforcement tactics have continually evolved with the times.
Aviation and K-9 units, along with the Underwater Recovery Team, arrived during the 1960s, as well as the responsibility of overseeing all vehicle inspections.
In the ’70s, a Bell Jet helicopter flew to the scene of a crash on the Baltimore Beltway and airlifted the first of 150,000 people to receive lifesaving care. Tactical assault, crisis negotiation and crime laboratory divisions became a part of the state police during that decade as well.
Maryland State Police infrastructure and vehicles were modernized throughout the 1980s and a DNA database used to facilitate investigations was started in 1994. The Forensic Science Division formed in 2006 became the state’s largest crime lab, and has been used to help the investigations of local police departments throughout Maryland.
The 2010s saw the department turn concerted attention toward impaired driving and creating a Mobile Field Force program where specialists within the state police can respond to high-priority incidents.
It also made sure those working in the force reflected society at-large.
Women were brought on as stenographers in the 1930s, and the first 6 female cadets were welcomed to the academy in 1974. And Milton Taylor became the first African American state trooper in 1957, where he retired as a captain after 25 years of duty.
Over the past 100 years, 43 state troopers and one deputy state fire marshal have died while serving.