What Do We Know About the State Police?
Every state except Hawaii has some form of state police agency. In 1990, there were a total of 77,330 full-time state police employees, of which 52,372 were sworn officers. 1 The total operating expenditure in fiscal 1990 for all state police agencies was $3.7 billion, or approximately 9 percent of all operating expenditures for police protection at the state and local level including county sheriffs. 2 Yet, with few exceptions, the state police receive little if any commentary in current criminal justice or police science literature. Many authors do not even mention the state police, while others simply indicate that they exist. Authors that do discuss the state police rarely provide more than a few brief paragraphs of limited information. 3 The publication of the Handbook of State Police, Highway Patrols, and Investigative Agencies by Donald Torres is a welcome and needed resource. Primarily a reference text, Torres's book provides a wealth of information, previously unavailable in one volume, on the organizational structure, duties, jurisdiction, and training qualifications of sworn personnel for all state law enforcement agencies. 4 Nevertheless, neither Torres, nor any of the other criminal justice writers, provide anything but sketchy comments about the history of the state police. Questions concerning the dynamics of state police creation and development or the role of the state police in the historical process of police reform are either not discussed or covered in a superficial fashion.
Limited as it is, what does the current criminal justice literature tell us about the history of the state police? For the most part, the discussions are remarkably similar in format and content. After a perfunctory