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State Patrol's historical timeline: 2000-present*
- Four full-time positions were added to the State Patrol Radio Shop in Madison in 2000 to expedite the installation of communications and other equipment on cruisers.
- Police communications operators (PCOs) were authorized in 2000 to wear a distinctive navy colored shirt, which included a State Patrol patch, while on duty.
- Strobe lighting was installed on new cruisers for better visibility and enhanced safety of officers and motorists in 2000.
- Ford Expeditions were issued to 17 motor carrier inspectors for transportation of heavy equipment in 2001.
- The stateís Move Over Law was enacted in 2001 that requires motorists to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles on the side of a road. Despite the new law, State Patrol officers still face the constant danger of being hit by a vehicle. (State Patrol videos show some recent close calls where troopers narrowly escaped tragedy).
- A digital communications system replaced the last remaining microwave path in 2002.
- The deadliest crash in Wisconsin history occurred on Oct. 11, 2002, on I-43 in Sheboygan County. Ten people were killed when heavy fog blanketed the highway leading to a huge pile-up of vehicles some of which caught fire. State Patrol officers responded to the scene, and crash reconstructionists spent many months detailing events in the crash that involved more than 50 vehicles.
- As part of its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) initiative, State Patrol hired six consumer protection investigators and a supervisor in 2002. (These non-sworn investigators conduct motor carrier safety audits to promote compliance with state and federal regulations.)
- The Wisconsin Department of Transportationís Bureau of Transportation Safety (BOTS) becomes part of the Division of State Patrol in 2003. A major function of BOTS is disbursing federal funding for traffic safety enforcement and education activities statewide.
- After testing by State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies, the new Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS) rollout began in June 2005. By using their mobile data computers equipped with TraCS, State Patrol officers no longer have to fill out paper forms for crashes, citations and warnings.
- The State Patrolís expertise in using the total station surveying system to map a crime scene was instrumental in helping secure a murder conviction of Chai Soua Vang, who shot and killed six deer hunters and wounded two others in the woods near Exeland in Sawyer County on Nov. 21, 2004. Vang contended that he acted in self-defense after the hunters harassed him for trespassing on their property and then fired a shot at him. According to William Bremer, the jury foreman, a map of the crime scene, produced by the State Patrol Northwest Region, clearly showed jurors that the defendantís version of what happened was not credible. The high-profile murder trial attracted international attention.
- An extensive WisDOT reorganization in 2005 created five State Patrol regions with seven posts to replace the previous seven State Patrol districts. (State Patrol regional locations and areas of responsibility)
- The Dignitary Protection Unit was formed in 2006 to protect the Governor and other state officials. (Dignitary Protection Unitís responsibilities)
- To meet the growing demands for the State Patrolís expertise in crash reconstruction and forensic mapping, the Technical Reconstruction Unit (TRU) was formed in 2007. The unit has continually responded statewide to complex crash scenes and has been involved in the mapping of numerous high-profile crime scenes.
- From 2007 to 2011, traffic fatalities in Wisconsin declined to levels not experienced since World War II.
- To bolster its criminal interdiction initiative, the K-9 program was instituted, and the first handlers and their K-9 partners were deployed in December 2006. An explosive detection K-9 team was added in November 2010. The K-9 program is funded through asset forfeitures from drug arrests. From its inception, the K-9 teams around the state produced remarkable results. For example, on Nov. 20, 2007, a K-9 team searched a semi tractor-trailer unit at the Safety and Weight Enforcement Facility on I-90 near West Salem. The trained K-9 alerted on a cardboard box stashed among a load of fresh tomatoes in the trailer. Inside the box, officers found about 25 pounds of marijuana. Officers subsequently opened another 14 boxes and found a total of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, which was one of the largest marijuana seizures ever in western Wisconsin.
- The State Patrol launched coordinated responses to widespread flooding that hit 30 counties in the summer of 2008. In total, State Patrol officers served more than 9,000 hours in flood-related duties. Teams of officers surveyed the conditions of roads, bridges and other infrastructure. They also assisted with evacuations of residents and provided security for vacated homes and businesses.
- An exhaustive investigation by the Technical Reconstruction Unit supplied evidence that helped determine multiple homicide convictions after one of the deadliest drunken driving crashes in Wisconsin history. On January 18, 2009, Richard Powell was driving his pick-up truck at a high rate of speed when he crashed into a sedan at an intersection on US 41 in Marinette County. The crash killed a father and his four children in the sedan, including two of his daughters who were pregnant. The family was traveling to a job as a cleaning crew. Powell plead no contest to five counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle with two additional counts for the deaths of the unborn children read into the record for sentencing.
- In 2008 and 2009, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) presented its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Leadership Award for Overall State Safety Program Performance in the large-state division to the State Patrol. Overall performance was measured in the areas of data quality, traffic enforcement, commercial motor vehicle fatality rate, and state-conducted compliance reviews.
- The Bureau of Transportation Safety launched a new statewide traffic safety campaign called Zero In Wisconsin in 2009. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of preventable traffic deaths to Zero In Wisconsin. (Zero In Wisconsin campaign)
- Trooper Jorge Dimas died on June 14, 2009, of injuries suffered from a crash in the line of duty. (In memoriam)
- State Patrol assigned a sergeant to work full-time with the Milwaukee High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in 2009. The State Patrol sergeant supervises the HIDTA interdiction effort made up of two State Patrol K-9 teams, three Milwaukee Police Department officers, a U.S. Postal inspector and a Coast Guard officer. In partnership with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, HIDTA dismantles and disrupts drug-trafficking operations in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, Rock, Dane and Brown counties.
2010 to present
- K-9 teams conducted 1,406 searches in 2010 that resulted in 535 seizures of marijuana, other drugs, and illegal weapons in 2010. In addition, a total of $883,394 in U.S. currency from drug-related offenses was seized in 2010.
- The Bureau of Transportation Safety in 2012 launched THE REF (Transportable High End Rider Education Facility) to improve motorcycle rider safety. THE REF is the first of its kind in the nation.
- The classifications of police communications operator and police communications supervisor were changed to law enforcement dispatcher and law enforcement dispatcher supervisor in 2013.
- The Bureau of Transportation Safety launched the Drive Sober mobile app in 2013. The award-winning app had more than 40,000 downloads in its first year.
*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.
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Last modified: January 29, 2014
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