FHP's Troop K: Dedicated to serving Florida's Turnpike
In 1956, forward-looking legislators realized that because the Sunshine State's new, soon-to-be opened super highway, the Sunshine State Parkway, traversed such a large geographic area, it would be difficult to determine the costs for the individual units of Florida Highway Patrol to provide accurate costs. A troop dedicated solely to patrolling the 110-mile Turnpike would be necessary.
They further determined that it was unfair for taxpayers to pick up the cost of services they wouldn't receive since only toll-paying customers would benefit from officers assigned to patrol the Turnpike. The Legislature therefore mandated that the Turnpike would be patrolled by the a new Florida Highway Patrol troop, and that their services would be absorbed by revenue generated by tolls.
And Troop K was born.
On Friday, January 25, 1957, Troop K began patrolling the 110 mile stretch of the Sunshine State Parkway from Ft. Pierce in the north to the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami in the south, with 33 original troopers, equipped with 22 Ford Police Interceptors equipped with “special high speed engines capable of overtaking anything that is likely to be encountered on the turnpike," with an emphasis on “strict enforcement of the 60 mph speed limit, drinkers, fatigued drivers and bad tires."
Today Troop K has grown to nearly 200 troopers, with 55 Regional Duty Officers and 15 civilian support staff, patrolling the 450 miles of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise highway system, which includes the 312 mile mainline stretching from Wildwood in the north to Florida City in the south, the 23 mile Sawgrass Expressway, the 19 mile Seminole Expressway, the 15 mile Veterans Expressway in Tampa, the 42 mile Suncoast Parkway, the 25 mile Polk Parkway, the six mile Southern Connector Extension of the Central Florida GreeneWay in Orlando and an eight mile section of the Beachline Expressway in Orlando, traveling through 16 of Florida’s 67 counties to include Sumter, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Okeechobee, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Polk, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Seminole.
Troop K’s safety and enforcement emphasis is on unlawful speed, aggressive drivers, impaired drivers, contraband interdiction, seatbelt and child restraint, move over law, following too closely and commercial motor vehicles.
Florida Statute 338.239 directs that expenditures incurred by Florida Highway Patrol in carrying out its powers and duties while providing law enforcement services on the Turnpike shall be treated as a part of the cost of the operation of the Turnpike system, and that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shall be reimbursed by the Turnpike Enterprise for such expenses.
The statute also directs that Florida Highway Patrol Troop K shall be headquartered with the Turnpike Enterprise and shall be the official and preferred law enforcement troop for the Turnpike system.
For further information about FHP, please visit www.fhp.state.fl.us.