Wisconsin's State Patrol marked its 75th anniversary on Friday with a banquet in the Wisconsin Dells.
The State Patrol began in 1939, doing things like commercial vehicle inspections and administering drivers’ license tests. According to Steve Olson, a spokesperson for the patrol, the law enforcement aspect of the patrol came later, as paved roads and highways became more heavily traveled.
“That wasn't until primarily after World War II,” said Olson. “Over the decades as the transportation system grew, our highways expanded into interstates (and) more people were driving cars and trucks. The State Patrol grew to accommodate our transportation system.”
Olson said the patrol still does inspections but also operates weigh stations, conducts about 400 crash reconstructions each year, and uses airplanes to catch speeding vehicles. He said they've come a long way since 1939.
“When the original State Patrol was formed, the officers used their own cars,” said Olson. “They didn't have any radios. What they would have to do is listen to a radio and then call in on a telephone to get directions in case of emergencies.”
Five hundred troopers and inspectors work for the Patrol, along with 180 administrative staff.
Gov. Scott Walker has proclaimed September as “Wisconsin State Patrol 75th Anniversary Month.”