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Minnesota State Patrol

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

History Timeline

State Patrol "History Highway"



  • Minnesota State Legislature creates the Highway Patrol in response to the boom in automobiles.

  • The first chief was Earle Brown.

  • Initial force was comprised of nine men, including Brown.

  • One of Chief Brown's core values: "They must be courteous in all contacts with the public." That's something that is still stressed today.


  • Henry Ford’s Model A was the standard patrol vehicle in the winter. Patrolmen exchanged milk cans full of hot water for heat.

  • In the spring, summer and early fall, troopers patrolled on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which they were required to supply themselves.

  • The early years of the patrol were spent on “goodwill work” — courtesy patrols to help motorists in difficulty. Enforcement was mostly limited to warnings.

  • Officers worked 12-16 hours per day, seven days per week, with one day off per month for a maximum pay of $150 per month.

  • Chief Brown almost lost his job when he and another highway patrol officer chased and subsequently arrested three individuals who had robbed the Elk River bank. We were reprimanded for following them off of the trunk highway before making the arrest," Brown remembered.


  • First academy to be held at Camp Ripley.


  • First patrolman killed in the line of duty: William Kozlak.

  • Patrol was authorized to enforce speed limits on trunk highways.

  • Many motorists arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (despite prohibition.) The DWI cases were written up as “careless driving.”

  • The original trooper uniform — long gray coat, riding boots, gray knee-high pants and eight-corner hat — was replaced by maroon and gold uniforms. The change was made to honor the University of Minnesota football national championship team.


  • The State's radio network begins to take shape with the construction of two radio towers


  • Motorcycles retired from patrol fleet.


  • Traffic law enforcement took to the air. Patrol purchased two fixed-wing aircraft.


  • Black squad cars replaced with maroon cars with white doors.

  • Safety Education Officers (now know as Public Information Officers) are assigned in each District to help educate people on traffic safety issues. 


  • First academy to be held at the MnDOT training center in Arden Hills.


  • Officer Bill O'Brien saves a driver from a burning vehicle after a car-train collision. Officer O'Brien receives the Patrol's first Meritorious Service award.


  • The Department of Public Safety is created. The Highway patrol moves from the Department of Highways to the new DPS.

  • Capitol Security Division is formed.


  • The first helicopter is purchased to enhance traffic enforcement.


  • Since 1929, the Highway Patrol only had jurisdiction on state and federal highways. The Legislature increased that jurisdiction to all roadways within the borders on the state.


  • With the increased jurisdiction in 1971, the Highway Patrol changed its name to the State Patrol, Officers were now called Troopers, and the uniform hat was changed to the widely recognized campaign hat.


  • Sergeant Mike Lofgren begins to develop the accident reconstruction program; using mathematical formulas to determine causal factors in motor vehicle crashes.


  • First women troopers join the State Patrol

  • The patrol Commercial Vehicle Division is formed; tasked with the compliance and enforcement of commercial vehicle on Minnesota roadways.


  • The CU High Voltage Project demonstrations drew national attention when farmers protested the construction of high voltage power lines in west-central Minnesota. For over two years over 200 state troopers (nearly 1/2 of the Patrols staff) were assigned to protect workers and property and ensure that the construction of the line continued.


  • Project 20 sees 20 new troopers hired and funded by the federal government for the sole purpose of enforcing the new 55 MPH national speed limit.


  • The Minnesota State Patrol is selected as the Best Dressed State Police Agency.


  • The Special Response Team is established to respond to incidents on state property.

  • The Drug Recognition Evaluator program begins and the State Patrol is tasked with its coordination.


  • First drug detection dog (Pasja) begins work.


  • Anna Beers is promoted to Colonel of the State Patrol; the first female head of a state police agency in the U.S.


  • The Investigative Services Section is formed, encompassing the Metro Crash Team, K-9 units and Motor Vehicle Crimes Task Force.


  • The I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapses, killing 13 and injuring 145. The State Patrol is instrumental in assisting with the reconstruction of the incident.


  • Motorcycles return for metro freeway traffic enforcement. They are used for three years before being retired.