The Highway Patrol was not the ''Highway Patrol'' in the first episode of Highway Patrol
Pay close attention to the doors on the police cars.
Read to Me
Premiering in 1955, Highway Patrol pioneered the police procedural on TV. Dragnet set the mold a few years earlier, focusing on the cases of LAPD detective Sgt. Joe Friday. Highway Patrol, starring Broderick Crawford as the gruff police leader Dan Mathews, shifted the focus to the patrol officers in black-and-whites — and featured far more action. It was all about the chase — and, occasionally, a helicopter! In many ways, it was CHiPs years before CHiPs.
Highway Patrol kicked off 65 years ago, on October 3, 1955, with the episode "Prison Break." The action was right there in the title, not to mention the thrilling opening shot of the opening credits, in which the camera zips over a speeding car to an awaiting roadblock up the road.
But examine the opening credits of "Prison Break" closely and you will notice something interesting. The police cars have a shield on the doors reading "STATE PATROL." These same State Patrol vehicles can be seen throughout the episode.
By the next episode, "Machine-Napping," one of the fan-favorite helicopter episodes, the police cars in the opening credits sported a shield with "HIGHWAY PATROL" on the doors.
You can see the difference in the photos above. Maybe the pilot should have been called State Patrol?