- Back to Gallery Index-


State Police Passenger Car & Motorcycle

The New Mexico State Police was established in 1933 under the name New Mexico Motor Patrol. Initially it was an all-motorcycle force consisting of just ten officers. Their motorcycles (Harley-Davidsons) were issued “civilian” plates from 1933 through 1938, and the 1933 plate #M-220 illustrated here was assigned to one of the first ten motorcycles upon creation of the force. 

In 1935 the organization’s name was changed to New Mexico State Police, but the motorcycles continued to receive civilian plates until purpose-made State Police motorcycle plates were introduced in 1938. Note that all of the State Police motorcycle plates are undated, but their years can be told by their colors, which, through 1947, were the same as those used for passenger car plates.

The NMSP received its first patrol cars in 1935, but they carried Official license plates until 1938 at which time the cars also received purpose-made State Police plates. In contrast to the motorcycle plates, most of the State Police car plates were dated, beginning no later than 1941. And, interestingly, as far as is known, State Police automobiles have always received two plates (i.e., front and back), even in the years when civilian vehicles received only one.
Passenger Car
   (Motor Patrol)
1938 1940 1941 1943  
  1946 1947 1960s 1980s 2010s 2017  

Retired State Police  Officially called “State Police Retired,” this plate is available to any person who is a retired New Mexico State Police officer.
State Police Citizen Award.  Introduced in early 1970, the State Police Citizen Award license plate was presented to persons the NMSP had found to have generously given of their time and talents in support of their communities and in furtherance of the work of the New Mexico State Police. The earliest of these tags were flat plates made of plastic, and without the Optimist emblem. The type shown here is made of embossed steel and was introduced just a few months after the program began, replacing the earlier flat tags. The project is believed to have continued through the 1970s, ending by about 1980.
New Mexico Motor Patrol Annual Report, January 1, 1935.  Click on the image above to view and read the entire 24-page report.
Motor Transportation Police  The primary responsibility of the MTP, a division of the N. M. Department of Public Safety, is the enforcement of state and federal regulations and laws which apply to commercial vehicles. But it also has statewide motor vehicle law enforcement jurisdiction, similar to that of the State Police.
When the first passenger cars were obtained by the State Police in 1935 they received state Official license plates.  This remained the case into the first half of 1938, when purpose-made State Police license plates were first introduced for patrol cars.  Thus, as seen here, in the early part of 1938 State Police passenger cars bore 1938 Official plates.  These were swapped out later in the year for 1938 State Police plates.  The vehicle seen here, a 1938 Buick, later received 1938 State Police plate #2.  Author’s collection.
New Mexico State Police officers and their new 1941 Chevrolet patrol cars stand for review.  Courtesy Sgt. Ron Taylor, NMSP Historian. 


-Back to Gallery Index-