Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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75th anniversary of Wisconsin State Patrol logo

State Patrol's historical timeline: 1960-1969*

1960-1969

  • The Legislature in 1961 provided officers with limited authority to make arrests for criminal violations committed in their presence on highways.
  • Aerial enforcement was initiated in 1961. Flying rented airplanes, Officer-Pilots William Plendl and William Walker began this service. Highway pavement was marked in one-eighth of a mile segments. Using a stop watch, the officers in the air calculated a vehicle’s speed and relayed the information to officers on the ground for enforcement action.
  • The number of authorized inspectors was increased from 70 to 83 by the Legislature in 1963.
  • The agency’s central headquarters moved to the Hill Farms State Office Building in Madison in 1964.
  • The central dispatch function was divided between two communications centers located in Wausau and Madison in 1964.
  • In 1965, the agency’s black and gray cruisers were replaced with dark blue vehicles which had a white roof, trunk and door. A red, white and blue shield was displayed on the front doors.
  • The traffic safety officer classification was officially changed to State Patrol trooper on September 9, 1966.
  • Troopers were issued .357 Magnum revolvers beginning in 1966.
  • A communications network was developed and installed in 1967 that equipped all cruisers with receivers and transmitters.
  • The authorized number of sworn officers was increased to 375 in 1968.
  • Because of renovations at Fort McCoy, the academy’s training programs were moved to the campus of Whitewater State University in 1968.
  • The first state-owned buildings to house the State Patrol district functions were constructed. The new District 4 headquarters in Rib Mountain near Wausau opened on May 22, 1968. The facility cost $291,000 and had 12-inch thick walls in the basement to protect against nuclear fallout.
  • Two broadcasting centers were created in 1969 to blanket the upper and lower halves of the state. Dispatchers were provided access to computerized records for determining driver’s license and vehicle registration directly.

*The sources of information include a variety of documents, newsletters, previous anniversary publications and submissions by current and former members of the Wisconsin State Patrol. 

Questions about the content of this page:
Steve Olson, steve.olson@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: April 11, 2014

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