In 1992, morale was low among state troopers. To help with morale and also improve the public's image of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Dr. Joe Taron, a Shawnee Dentist and current COHPS Board Member, and congressman Wes Watkins, a longtime supporter of OHP, helped create an organization of businessmen and citizens to support troopers and their families and the work of the patrol. The idea of the organization was developed during a lunch in Shawnee between Wes Watkins and Dr. Taron, and a subsequent meeting with former DPS Commissioner Bob Lester and former OHP Chief Cotton Allen.
Dr. Taron’s support of troopers is well known. He was made an honorary trooper by the Oklahoma Trooper Association. Dr. Taron’s wife, Mary Louise, worked at the Pottawatomie County courthouse for the district court. Dr. Taron appreciated how professionally the troopers treated his wife in her line of work.
When troopers became family friends, Dr. Taron began to recognize the stress on troopers’ families. He set up a non-profit corporation, Concerned Oklahomans for the Highway Patrol Society (COHPS), to “enhance public support for, further the views and goals of, and to support increased professionalism of the troopers of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.”
If a trooper or his/her family members are in need, COHPS stands ready to help. COHPS through the years has provided many monetary donations for troopers and their families. The support could be for an on- or off-duty injury, or for needs of a family member. COHPS has assisted troopers and their families whose homes have been damaged by tornadoes and other disasters. Usually a COHPS Board Member will provide aid to the Trooper and his/her family within 24 hours of being informed of the need.