Wisconsin State Patrol

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Wisconsin State Patrol
Wisconsin State Patrol Patch.png
WisconsinStatePatrol Logo.png
Agency overview
FormedSeptember 1, 1939; 80 years ago (1939-09-01)
Employees713 (as of 2004) [1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionWisconsin, United States
Size65,498 square miles (169,640 km2)
Population5,757,564 (2014 est)
General nature
HeadquartersMadison, Wisconsin

Sworn members443 (as of 2017) [1]
Unsworn members203 (as of 2004) [1]
Agency executive
  • Anthony Burrell, Superintendent
Parent agencyWisconsin Department of Transportation

The Wisconsin State Patrol is the state police force for the state of Wisconsin. It serves a population of 5.7 million mainly through traffic safety and enforcement on the state highways.


The Wisconsin Legislature created Chapter 110 on September 1, 1939[2] to have the Motor Vehicle Department. That department had three divisions: Registration and Licensing, Highway Safety Promotion and Inspection and Enforcement. The Inspection and Enforcement division had inspectors who enforced the state motor carrier regulations and the state motor vehicle code. That division eventually became known as the Wisconsin State Patrol.

Prior to 1939, there were some sort of statewide enforcement efforts through other departments. For example, in 1917, the Dairy and Food Department and the Oil Inspection Department were legally authorized to conduct investigations of the licensing and vehicle sale laws. Also, in 1931, the State Highway Administration had personnel dedicated to checking truck weights and traffic.

State Patrol-run radio went on the air on February 1, 1943 on station WIZR on a frequency of 31.50 MHz. The radio allowed communication with the Patrol's mobile units and with local law enforcement short-wave stations.


As stated on its website, the State Patrol provides traffic safety and enforcement services for Wisconsin. Like all highway patrol and state patrol agencies, its primary mission is to enforce the provisions of the Wisconsin Motor Vehicle laws and other laws to prevent crime. State troopers and inspectors have statewide jurisdiction for traffic and drug enforcement.

These are the services provided statewide by the agency:

  • Traffic law enforcement through freeway patrols and Major Highways
  • Accident scene reconstruction and crime scene mapping for investigations
  • Motor carrier safety inspections
  • Commercial vehicle size and weight enforcement
  • Inspections of school buses, ambulances, motor coaches, and salvage vehicles
  • Evaluation and maintenance of breath-alcohol testing equipment; also provides training to some county and local law enforcement agencies in using such equipment
  • Assistance to county and local law enforcement agencies when requested upon
  • Law enforcement training at the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy
  • Traffic safety programs

The State Patrol maintains and manages the facilities of the Mobile Data Communications Network (MDCN), a system that supports remote access to information available from the United States Department of Justice. The service is provided free of charge to allied criminal justice agencies in Wisconsin.[3]


A training academy was established in 1955 to offer formal education instructions in partnership with the Northwestern University Traffic Institute. Since 1957, the agency has been training its recruits with its own staff. The Wisconsin State Patrol Academy, in Fort McCoy, sits on 50 acres (200,000 m2) and is used to train State Patrol recruits but also some county and local law enforcement agencies personnel on the latest techniques in traffic law enforcement.

Training for recruits currently lasts 26 weeks in a paramilitary setting. Fort McCoy itself is a military installation run by the United States Army.

Prior to joining the academy, recruits must pass several phases during initial testing. Those phases include a written exam, a physical agility test, an interview, a background investigation and a psychological/medical exams.[4]

The State Patrol today[edit]

The State Patrol became part of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in the 1960s, and was designated a DOT division in 1977. In 2003, the Bureau of Transportation Safety was incorporated into the State Patrol.

In 2005 the State Patrol reorganized and went from 7 districts to 5 regions. It maintains offices in DeForest (Madison), Waukesha, Fond du Lac, Wausau, Tomah, Eau Claire and Spooner.[5]

The agency has three main components: support staff, road patrol troopers and inspectors who are troopers assigned to motor carrier enforcement throughout the state. The State Patrol uses marked,[6] unmarked vehicles and motorcycles to perform its mission. It also has an aircraft program with four aerial vehicles to monitor traffic, track criminal suspects, perform drug detection and assist in the search of missing persons.

Since the mid-2000s troopers have been armed with the Glock 22 .40 S&W pistol as standard issue sidearm which replaced the Ruger P-series 9mm pistols. In the late 1980s the WSP chose the Ruger P-85 which they carried until the early 1990s when they chose the newer Ruger P-89 which was replaced by the Glock's. Prior to the semi-automatic pistols the patrol carried the Smith & Wesson Model 66 service revolvers.


In 2005, Wisconsin had 492 troopers and inspectors according to data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. [needs update][7] (Excluding inspectors, the agency has 315 actual road troopers as of 2009, according to the Associated Press).[7]

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Wisconsin State Patrol, seven troopers have died while on duty.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies
  2. ^ "History of the Wisconsin State Patrol". Wisconsin DOT. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  3. ^ Purpose of the Mobile Data Communication Network http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/statepatrol/services/communications.htm/
  4. ^ Hiring process with the Wisconsin State Patrol http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/about/hr/jobs/trooper-insp/index.htm/
  5. ^ "Wisconsin State Patrol office locations". Wisconsin DOT. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Wisconsin State Patrol". Wisconsin Public Safety Photo Library. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b United States state law enforcement personnel http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/police/
  8. ^ "Wisconsin State Patrol memoriam". Wisconsin State Patrol. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  9. ^ Wisconsin State Patrol: killed in the line of duty

Further reading[edit]

  • State Trooper: America's State Troopers and Highway Patrolmen (Turner Publishing Company - 2001)

External links[edit]