Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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State Patrol's historical timeline: 1980-1989*


  • The Division of Enforcement and Inspection officially became the Division of State Patrol on January 15, 1980, to reflect the agency’s mission and responsibilities.
  • The State Patrol in 1980 purchased its "red phone" system, which was a private telephone system connecting the central headquarters in Madison with the seven district headquarters, the State Patrol Academy, and the state Division of Emergency Government.
  • Trooper Gary Powles was killed in the line of duty from injuries sustained in a crash on May 18, 1980. (In memoriam)
  • The Legislature increased the authorized strength of the State Patrol from 375 to 400 sworn positions in 1983.
  • Construction began on a new State Patrol Academy facility at Fort McCoy in May 1984.
  • Intoxilyzers for measuring breath-alcohol levels replaced the Breathalyzers beginning in 1984.
  • The agency began its participation in the federally funded Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) with six inspectors in 1985.
  • The .357 Smith & Wesson revolver was replaced with the .9mm Ruger semi-automatic in 1987.
  • A new two-person, two desk radio console system became operational at the District 4 headquarters in Wausau in 1988. The system contained a teletype machine, typewriter, telephone, printer, credit card machine, recall recorder for radio and telephone traffic, citizens band radio, police scanner, personal computer and microfiche machine.
  • Trooper Deborah McMenamin was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 26, 1989.  [In memoriam]

* 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: January 29, 2014

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