Minnesota State Patrol

The Minnesota State Highway Patrol was formed in 1929, as there was a need for an agency with statewide jurisdiction in traffic enforcement. The original force was comprised of 35 men at a salary of $120 per month.

These new troopers also had to furnish their own motorcycles for patrol! From 1929 to 1969, the MSHP was under the control of the Minnesota Department of Highways. 1931 saw the ranks of the Patrol increase to 70 officers and the second academy was held. Ford Model A's were used for patrolling in the winter months and motorcycles were used primarily at all other times in those early days.

The Patrol adopted the maroon and gold colors of the University of Minnesota, and the tradition has been maintained ever since. By 1941, the Patrol was up to 126 men, and by 1955 that number jumped to 255, and then 330 by 1957. In 1967, the MSHP became part of the newly created Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and the manpower was up to 458 officers.

Up until 1971, MSHP authority extended only to crimes committed on state trunk highways. That year, jurisdiction was given to the Patrol to arrest for crimes committed in their presence anywhere in the state.

In 1974, the name Minnesota State Patrol became the official by dropping the word "Highway" from the monicker. In 1986, District 4700 commenced operation which was the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. Today, the Minnesota State Patrol is comprised of 11 patrol districts located in Rochester, Mankato, Marshall, Oakdale, Golden Valley, St. Cloud, Duluth, Brainerd, Detroit Lakes, Virginia, and Thief River Falls.

Each District is divided into geographic work areas referred to as "stations". There are a total of 61 stations throughout the state. The State Patrol has 810 total personnel, of which 522 are uniformed and 288 are civilian.

Minnesota State Flag

The Minnesota state flag is royal blue, with a gold fringe.
In the center of the flag is the state seal. Around the state seal
is a wreath of the state flower, the lady slipper. Three dates are
woven into the wreath: 1858, the year Minnesota became a state; 1819,
the year Fort Snelling was established; and 1893, the year the official flag
was adopted. Nineteen stars ring the wreath. The largest star represents Minnesota.

1936-1938 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with no known reserved number blocs for State Patrol.

Courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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1948-1950 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs



Picture courtesy of the Minnesota State Patrol


1951-1953 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with no known reserved number blocs. This longer 5 digit plate (5.75"x13") uses a lighter shade of green and was confirmed as MSP used.

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1951-1953 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with no known reserved number blocs. Smaller version
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1954-1956 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.


Picture courtesy of
Trooper Eddie Carroll - Minnesota State Patrol


1957-1959 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.

Picture courtesy of the Minnesota State Patrol

1960-1962 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.
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1963-1965 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.

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1966-1968 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.
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1969-1971 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.
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1972-1974 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.
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1975-circa 1979 issue- Multi-year tax exempt plates with
no known reserved number blocs.
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In October of 1979, a joint task force between the MSP and the
Minnesota Department of Transportation was developed to
help reduce excessive speeding on Minnesota's highways. By
March 11 1980, two teams of 10 Troopers and two Sergeants
were selected to the assignment dubbed "PROJECT 20" which
was based on the number of dedicated troopers to the program.
These special license plates were issued to participating
Troopers which resembled regular Minnesota passenger plates
of the day but with PROJECT 20 silkscreened where embossed
characters would normally go. Validation decal boxes are
covered with blue adhesive decals. These plates were run on the
assigned patrol vehicles until September 22 1981 when the
project officially wrapped- up.

Plate courtesy of the Mike Morgan Collection
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Circa 1979-Circa 1983 issue- Flat screened aluminum. Most of these plates have markings done in black felt-tip marker on the backside with "SP" and 3 numbers being the trooper's badge number. On the back of this plate, it reads; SP453. Below that, is a 5 digit number which is the "Squad Number". On this plate it reads "49120". The number 4 is always the first number as it was the state accounting code designation for the State Patrol. The next digit signifies the year of the assigned patrol car. On this plate, the 9 would indicate this plate was issued to a 1979 patrol car. The last number is the issuance sequence number, in this case, 120.

Picture courtesy of Mike Morgan

Circa 1983-1987 issue- Galvanized steel
with painted embossed border

Picture courtesy of the Minnesota State Patrol

1987-1988 issue- "Plain Jane" Galvanized steel- Step border
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1988-Circa 1991 issue- Embossed state shape.

Rare early 1990 issue- Embossed galvanized steel with state name. Unknown how long these were used.
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1991-circa 1999 issue- Galvanized steel with
painted embossed border- shoulder emblem decal

2000 - 2012 - Aluminum with step border-
shoulder emblem decal

2012-Current issue- All flat screened



Picture Courtesy of Scott Reichel

75th Anniversary plate



2006 issue front plate

Picture courtesy of Mike Morgan

Special vanity license plate for restored Minn SP motorcycle

Picture courtesy of Mike Morgan

National Trooper Coalition souvenir issue
Courtesy of the Bob Bruce Collection