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Montana Highway Patrol

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Montana Highway Patrol
Patch of Montana Highway Patrol
Patch of Montana Highway Patrol
Agency overview
Formed1935; 87 years ago (1935)
Employees294 (as of 2014) [1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionMontana, USA
MT - MHP Districts.jpg
Montana Highway Patrol Districts
Size147,165 square miles (381,160 km2)
Population998,199 (July 2011 estimate)
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersHelena, Montana
Troopers237 (as of 2014)
Civilians57 (as of 2014) [2]
Agency executive
  • Colonel Steve Lavin, Chief Administrator
Parent agencyMontana Department of Justice
Stations8 District and 1 Head Quarters
Montana Highway Patrol site

The Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) is the highway patrol agency for the U.S. state of Montana, which has jurisdiction anywhere in the state over Montana Traffic law.

Discover more about Montana Highway Patrol related topics

Highway patrol

Highway patrol

A highway patrol, or state patrol is either a police unit created primarily for the purpose of overseeing and enforcing traffic safety compliance on roads and highways, or a detail within an existing local or regional police agency that is primarily concerned with such duties. They are also referred to in many countries as traffic police, although in other countries this term is more commonly used to refer to foot officers on point duty who control traffic at junctions.

U.S. state

U.S. state

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders.



Montana is a state in the Mountain West division of the Western United States. It is bordered by Idaho to the west, North Dakota and South Dakota to the east, Wyoming to the south, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan to the north. It is the fourth-largest state by area, the eighth-least populous state, and the third-least densely populated state. Its state capital is Helena, while the largest city is Billings. The western half of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges, while the eastern half is characterized by western prairie terrain and badlands, with smaller mountain ranges found throughout the state. The state has a reputation for a libertarian bent in popular opinion and policy.



Jurisdiction is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels.


The Montana Highway Patrol was founded in 1935 after Montana led the nation with a 74% increase in highway fatalities. Twenty-four recruits taken from an application pool of over 1500 were selected to attend the first Highway Patrol Recruit Academy, and on May 1, 1935 those recruits took to the highways. Though authorized to enforce the eleven traffic laws in existence at that time, the Montana Highway Patrol's main focus was to educate and assist the public.

In 1988, they became the first state highway patrol in the nation to become nationally accredited. The accreditation process took three years to complete and was considered a critical element in enhancing the professionalism of the Montana Highway Patrol.

The Montana Highway Patrol currently have four specialty units that Troopers can be assigned to. They are:

• Executive Protection (EP)

• Special Response Team (SRT)

• Criminal Interdiction Team (CIT)

• Safety Enforcement Traffic Team (SETT)

The Montana Highway Patrol also operates an aviation divisions, which includes helicopter pilots and drone pilots.

In recent years there has been a movement by the citizens of Montana to restructure the Montana Highway Patrol into a State Police Agency; however, there has not been any formal conversations regarding this change.


The Montana Highway Patrol is divided into eight districts.

MCA 61-1-101 (28) "Highway patrol officer" means a state officer authorized to direct or regulate traffic or to make arrests for violations of traffic regulations.


There are eight districts that the MHP operates in throughout the state.

District I (Missoula) – Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sanders counties

District II (Great Falls) – Cascade, Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Musselshell, Petroleum, Teton, and Wheatland counties

District III (Butte) – Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Granite, Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, Madison, Powell, and Silver Bow counties

District IV (Billings) – Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, and Yellowstone counties

District V (Glendive) – Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, McCone, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sheridan, Treasure, Valley, and Wibaux counties

District VI (Kalispell) – Flathead, Lake, and Lincoln counties

District VII (Bozeman) – Broadwater, Gallatin, Madison, Meagher, and Park counties

District VIII (Havre) – Blaine, Chouteau, Glacier, Hill, Liberty, Phillips, Pondera, and Toole counties


A Ford Taurus Police Interceptor of the MHP on scene of a rollover accident
A Ford Taurus Police Interceptor of the MHP on scene of a rollover accident

The Highway Patrol's mission is to safeguard the lives and property of the people using the highway traffic system of Montana through education, service, enforcement, and interagency cooperation.

The Patrol's 243 patrol officers cover great distances to police Montana's highways, assist other law enforcement agencies, and help motorists in need. Each year, the men and women of the Patrol:

  • drive more than 5,500,000 miles (8,900,000 km)
  • respond to over 70,000 calls for service
  • issue more than 85,000 arrest tickets and more than 100,000 warning tickets

Patrol Officers provide public safety education presentations on nearly every subject related to driving safety, including seatbelt use, driving under the influence (DUI), and child safety.


The Montana Highway Patrol uses a variety of lethal and non-lethal weapons, the weapons that are in use by the department are as follows:

  • S&W MP 2.0 4.25” 9mm
  • Beretta 1301 Tactical
  • Rock River Arms M-4 Carbine style AR-15 MHP also have Military Surplus M-14 Rifles.
  • OC (Oleoresin capsicum) Spray
  • Taser X2[3]

Fallen officers

Since the establishment of the Montana Highway Patrol in 1935, eight officers have died while on duty.[4]

Rank Name Date of Death Cause of Death Age Location
Patrolman Robert G. Steele 11-02-1946 Shot and killed while on a traffic stop with a car that was used in a robbery 30 On Highway 10; exact location N/A
Patrolman James H. Anderson 07-24-1954 Killed after being struck by a vehicle while on a traffic stop 47 Near Livingston, Montana
Patrolman Richard E. Hedstrom 07-19-1973 Killed after being struck by a drunk driver while on a traffic stop 24 In Columbia Falls, Montana
Patrolman Michael M. Ren 04-08-1978 Shot and killed after a high-speed pursuit ended in a wreck 30 In Eureka, Montana
Trooper David A. Graham 10-09-2007 Killed after being struck head-on by a pickup truck in the wrong lanes 36 On Highway 2 in Kalispell, Montana
Trooper Evan Frederick Schneider 08-26-2008 Killed making a U-turn to apprehend a speeder, 2 others killed. 29 On Highway 2 near Columbia Falls, Montana
Trooper Michael “Mike” Warren Haynes 03-27-2009 Succumbed to injuries sustained on 03-22-2009 after being struck head-on by a drunk driver going the wrong way 28 On U.S. 93 near Kalispell, Montana
Trooper David James DeLaittre 12-01-2010 Shot and killed while checking on an idle truck in the middle of the road 23 In Three Forks, Montana

Source: "Montana Highway Patrol", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, October 1st),

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