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The first bill to establish a Department of Public Safety/State Police was introduced in the 1937 Vermont Legislature, yet it was not to be. The defeat of the original proposal has been attributed to lobbying by the county sheriffs who perceived a loss of power and a conservative legislature with a tight hold on the purse strings.

The disappearance of an eighteen year old Bennington College student in 1947 resulted in changes to the attitudes of many opponents of the formation of a Department of Public Safety. Bennington county officials were unsuccessful in locating the student and were forced to call on State Police investigators from Connecticut and New York for assistance.

Tragically the case was never solved. This case, plus the Governor of Vermont's efforts ended a decade-long struggle with the Vermont Legislature passing Act No. 163. Finally, on July 1, 1947, the Vermont Department of Public Safety and thus , the Vermont State Police became a reality. Prior to that date,Vermont law enforcement was primarily county based. Each of the state's fourteen counties had an elected sheriff responsible for providing all law enforcement services to towns in the county without their own police departments.

On the state level, only the Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Patrol provided centralized, statewide law enforcement services. Members of that Department patrolled the state's roadways on motorcycles enforcing motor vehicle law and investigating accidents. The original strength authorized for the Department was 62, with 7 civilians and 55 troopers. Twenty-seven officers transferred from the Highway Patrol to the DPS.

In 1948, the Department purchased 25 Ford sedans, two Pontiac sedans, and one Pontiac coupe for a total price of $14,742.41. The Departmental strength was 118 State Police and 60 civilians at the beginning of 1960. The state's population was 389,881. There were only 41.4 miles of Interstate highway compared with 320 miles in 1998.

The Department grew to 193 State Police and 85 civilians by June 30, 1970, and by the end of the decade the State's population had grown to 477,427. There were 383,108 registered vehicles and 352,715 licensed drivers. The Department strength grew to 259 State Police and 120 civilians. Changes continue to be made throughout the Department. A recent reorganization resulted in going from five to four Troop areas. Dispatching services were being consolidated with a pilot project in Rockingham/Brattleboro/Shaftsbury.

Today, the Vermont State Police is a full service law enforcement agency consisting of 328 sworn officers and 90 emergency telecommunicators. The Department provides primary police services for about 50 percent of Vermont's population which includes approximately 200 towns representing 90 percent of Vermont's land area. In addition to the traditional police services of traffic enforcement and the investigation of crimes, Troopers enforce snowmobile and recreational boating laws.




License Plates of the Vermont State Police

Prior to the formation of the Vermont State Police in 1947, there existed a Vermont Highway Patrol staffed by inspectors of the Vermont Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. These state motor vehicle inspectors enforced motor vehicle laws on the state's highways since the 1920's. The only record of license plates used by the Vermont Highway Patrol is a photograph from 1945 which shows that an ST (State) prefix license plate was used with number 118. The plate was made of embossed steel and measuring 6" x 10". Embossed white characters over a dark blue background. Format was ST ### over VERMONT 45.
1946 would have been the same size and material but with embossed black characters over a white background with ST ### over VERMONT 46
1947 introduced aluminum as the stock of choice for the state's license plates. State vehicle license plates during this inaugural year of the Vermont State Police measured 6" x 10" as the previous issues, but with white characters over a black background. ST ### over 47 VERMONT.
1948 was the first year for a slogan for Vermont license plates. The deep yellow over green aluminum plates had the slogan GREEN MOUNTAINS embossed along the top and centered between the upper mounting holes. The ST ### format for state vehicles continued and was placed over 48 VERMONT.
It is believed based on more recent photographic evidence, that titled Vermont State Police license plates began in 1949, however it is possible that state vehicle license plates may have also been used by the VSP during this time frame leading into the early 1950's.

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  • Vermont  police license plate imageVermont Highway Patrol- 1945
    State Vehicle plate. White over dark blue.
    ST118 over VERMONT 45
  • Vermont  police license plate image1948 State Vehicle issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Deep yellow over green. Approx. 6" x 10".
    ST prefix followed by number up to 3 digits.
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  • Vermont  police license plate image1951 State Vehicle issue. Embossed aluminum.
    White over green. Approx. 6" x 10".
    S prefix to a number up to three digits. May have been used by VSP concurrent with first titled STATE POLICE license plates believed introduced in 1949/1950.
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The recent discovery of the photo seen below this paragraph indicates that the first-issue titled STATE POLICE license plates for the Vermont State Police were introduced much earlier than 1954 as previously believed.
The photo shows a 1949 Ford in VSP markings with a VSP trooper standing next to it. The car bears the titled Vermont STATE POLICE license plate number 38.
The plate is made of steel and measures 6" x 13 1/2". The plate is a silkscreened application in green over off-white, almost cream which can be attributed to the reflective material used where the white background often turned to a more gold or "champagne" hue with age and exposure to the elements. The state name was situated at the top center of the plate. The assignment number up to two digits occupied the right 1/3 of the plate and STATE over POLICE occupied the remaining 2/3 of the plate. There was a green silkscreened border outline as well.
This first issue titled VSP license plate was known as the "Type 1" and was painted white on the flip-side.
This sturdy license plate was used on the marked VSP fleet until approximately 1957.
As the years went by, a "Type 2" version of this same layout appeared as a replacement for the Type 1, but rather than being made of steel with a painted back-side, it was made of sign grade aluminum and not painted at all on the flip-side.
Otherwise, the measurements and appearance was almost identical to the Type 1.
All Vermont State Police license plates were transferable from older vehicles to newer ones, hence why wear patterns over mounting holes can differ and extra mounting holes can be seen on some examples. That trend still continues.



  • Vermont  police license plate image
  • Vermont  police license plate image1949-c.1957 Type 1 issue. Silkscreened thick steel.
    Green over reflective off-white. Approx. 6" x 13".
    Assigned to Tpr. Glenn Davis who during this time became the state's first licensed polygrapher.
    He later went on to become the Director of the VSP in the 1960s, and hosted President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 during a Presidential visit to Vermont that year. This plate is only ONE NUMBER off from the photo seen below!
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  • Vermont  police license plate image1949-c.1957 Type 2 issue. Silkscreened thick aluminum.
    Green over reflective off-white. Approx. 6" x 13".
    This example shows signs of being used on more than one vehicle over time.
  • 1953 Vermont police car
  • Vermont  police license plate image1949-c.1957 Type 2 issue. Silkscreened thick aluminum.
    Green over reflective off-white. Approx. 6" x 13".
    Assigned to Tpr. Glenn Davis who during this time became the state's first licensed polygrapher.
    He later went on to become the Director of the VSP in the 1960s, and hosted President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 during a Presidential visit to Vermont that year.
    This plate is only ONE NUMBER off from the photo seen below!
  • Vermont  police license plate image

Vermont  police license plate image
Photo taken in 1955 showing famed film director Alfred Hitchcock leaning against Vermont State Police car number 70 during the filming of "The Trouble With Harry". I have been told that the Sergeant seen at left of the photo was the newly-promoted Glenn Davis whose plate # 71 seen above was assigned......just ONE NUMBER OFF from the one seen in this great old photo...

Vermont  police carCirca 1956 press conference at the border between Derby Vermont and Stanstead Quebec in Canada. The message was to advise of the radar enforced speed limits in the state of Vermont to motorists of Quebec who were known to have a heavier foot on the gas pedal.
The postings were in French as well as English as fair warning.
The VSP Chevrolet in the background is still sporting the older VSP license plate.

Around late 1956, shortly after the 6" x 12" license plate measurement standard came out, the license plates of the Vermont State Police followed suit using the same green over reflective white silkscreened coloring and the format of STATE over POLICE placed on the left side of the plate followed by an assignment number up to two digits. The state name was eliminated from this base plate.
These plates were used until a new type was introduced in 1963, however there were a couple of versions to this license plate which would differentiate newer types from older types.
The newer types had the STATE over POLICE moved closer to the left margin of the plate to allow a three digit number as the VSP fleet increased in size during the early 1960's.
The earlier ones have STATE over POLICE placed closer to the center, usually with the S of STATE placed directly below the upper left mounting hole. Heavy steel was used for these plates. It was beleived that later ones were made of aluminum, but none of this type utilizing aluminum have surfaced yet for confirmation.
Both types are painted white on the back side.
All Vermont State Police license plates were transferable from older vehicles to newer ones, hence why wear patterns over mounting holes can differ and extra mounting holes can be seen on some examples.



  • Vermont  police license plate imageC.1956-1963 issue. Silkscreened heavy steel.
    Green over reflective off-white. 6" x 12".
    Earlier issue with STATE POLICE more centered.

    (Courtesy Chris Fretta)
  • Vermont  police license plate imageVSP license plate # 51- Circa 1958
  • Vermont  police license plate imageC.1956-1963 issue. Silkscreened heavy steel.
    Green over reflective off-white. 6" x 12".
    Earlier issue with STATE POLICE more centered.

    THIS PLATE IS SEEN "ON DUTY" TO THE RIGHT >>
  • Vermont  police license plate imageVSP license plate number 67 (seen at left)-- on duty!
    Even the damage along the bottom can be made out...
  • Vermont  police license plate imageC.1956-1963 issue. Silkscreened heavy steel.
    Green over reflective off-white. 6" x 12".
    Later issue with STATE POLICE moved closer to left margin of the plate.
  • Vermont  police license plate imageCirca 1962- Larger font for number.
  • Vermont  police license plate image

In 1963, the Vermont State Police introduced an entirely new license plate. The embossed borderless aluminum plate was colored dark green over reflective white. VERMONT was embossed at the top center just below the upper mounting holes. STATE over POLICE was embossed to the left center of the plate and a number up to 3 digits occupied the right center of the plate.
This type was also distinctive by being said to be the first VSP license plate issue to feature Troop number assignments.
There is no confirmation that Troop assignments went this far back, however, with the numbering on these bases going into the 400 and 500 series, it can be surmised that these were not sequential numbers as the VSP marked fleet was nowhere near that large at that time.
Confirmation either way would be helpful.

Headquarters and special assignment numbers were from 1 to 99.

Troop plates were assigned as such:
200 series: Troop A (Williston, St. Albans and Middlesex Barracks)
300 series: Troop B (St. Johnsbury, Derby and Bradford Barracks)
400 series: Troop C (Rutland, New Haven and Shaftsbury Barracks)
500 series: Troop D (Rockingham, Brattleboro, and Royalton Barracks)

These plates were used by the Vermont State Police until a new issue came out around 1970.
All Vermont State Police license plates were transferable from older vehicles to newer ones, hence why wear patterns over mounting holes can differ and extra mounting holes can be seen on some examples.



  • Vermont  police license plate image1963-1970 issue. Embossed aluminum.
    Dark green over reflective white. No border.
    400 series: Troop C- Car 2 (Station Commander).

    (Courtesy Chris Fretta)
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Vermont 1967 police car

It is believed that as early as 1970, the Vermont State Police began using a totally different design for its license plates.
These plates were made of DEBOSSED aluminum, meaning that rather than having raised characters, they were concave.
The colors were reflective yellow over reflective green. VERMONT was debossed at the top center of the plate. STATE POLICE was debossed in larger font along the bottom of the plate and just above the lower mounting holes.

Some have a shade of yellow lighter than others, while some can have a deeper yellow, almost gold-like shade. Many of these types were validated with annual decals with October expiry while others were not.

The same Troop numbering continued on this base with some additions.
Of particular note was the introduction of Troop K (Middlesex) which would now run VSP license plates in the 600 series. This troop was situated in and around Washington County, halfway between Montpelier and Waterbury.
Troop K eventually amalgamated with Troops A and D sometime later.

Also, in 1976-1977, Troop I (Interstate) was created as a result of a federal grant to increase traffic safety on the interstate highways of Vermont. Troop I was issued with VSP license plates in the 700 series.
Prior to this troop's formation, there was no dedicated assignment for patrolling Interstates 89 and 91...this proved troublesome particularly for the Winter months.
The 700 series license plates began with 700 assigned to the Troop Commander (Lt. Ed Fish at that time), 701 to the Station Commander, 702, 703 and 704 to Patrol Commanders and so on.
By around 1980, Troop I was dissolved and absorbed into the respective traditional troop areas.
Although Troop I no longer exists, the 700 series of VSP license plates were re-assigned to state headquarters to eventually be attributed to the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit with 705 going to the Sergeant in charge of that unit. The 700 series also includes a DUI Saturation Patrol, as well as a traffic operations unit with a trooper assigned to each troop.

Our thanks to Russ Penka for this historical information about Troops I and K.



  • Vermont  police license plate image1970-1984 issue. Debossed aluminum.
    Reflective yellow over reflective green.
    400 series: Troop C- Car 20

    This issue using lighter shade of yellow.
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  • Vermont  police license plate image1970-1984 issue. Debossed aluminum.
    Reflective yellow over reflective green.
    500 series: Troop D- Car 51

    This issue using darker shade of yellow.
    October 1980 validation decal.
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Vermont  police license plate image
Photo from 1976-1977 with Troop I (Interstate) car with VSP license plate number 705. Troop I was dissolved into traditional Troop areas by 1980, however the 700 series license plates live-on for Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Units and Traffic Operations Units today.

Vermont  police license plate image
  • Vermont  police license plate image1970-1984 issue. Debossed aluminum.
    Reflective yellow over reflective green.
    October 1981 validation decal.
    Darker shade of yellow and brighter shade of green.
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  • Vermont  police license plate image1970-1984 issue. Debossed alumium.
    Reflective yellow over reflective green.
    Commercial Vehicle Enforcement/Traffic Operations.
    Lighter shade of yellow characters.
    (Courtesy Tony Aleria)
  • Vermont  police license plate image1978 # 714 - Courtesy Chris Fretta

In late 1984 to early 1985, the Vermont State Police, for reasons unknown, decided to depart from their titled state police license plates in favor of going back to using a generic state vehicle plate for their marked vehicles.
The reflective white over green debossed aluminum plates utilized silkscreened graphics for the state name and slogan. Vermont was screened in a stylized white font at the top center of the plate with a design of a maple tree in the top left corner also silkscreened in white.
The slogan "Green Mountain State" was screened in white between the lower mounting holes.
The prefix STATE was debossed in a descending right oblique at the left center of the plate followed by the letter S and three numbers based on VSP Troop number blocs. The characters were all debossed in white and situated on a raised platform outlined in white, forming a white rectangular outline around the characters.
These plates were used until the Vermont State Police went back to a fully-titled STATE POLICE license plate in late 1990/early 1991.
Annual validation decals with October expiry were applied to the bottom right corner of the plate.



  • Vermont  police license plate image1985-1990 state vehicle issue. Debossed aluminum.
    400 series: Troop C- Car 45
    Use of October validation decals annually.
  • Vermont  police license plate image600 series: Troop K- Car 26 with October 1987 expiry.
  • Vermont  police license plate image
  • Vermont  police license plate image1985-1990 state vehicle issue. Debossed aluminum.
    600 series: Troop K- Car 14
    With DMV envelope.
    Use of October validation decals annually.
  • Vermont  police license plate image600 series: Troop K- Car 10 with October 1987 expiry.
  • Vermont  police license plate image
  • VERMONT STATE POLICE Coverage Map

    Troop A (Williston, St. Albans, Middlesex Barracks)
    200 Series License Plates


    Troop B (St. Johnsbury, Derby, Bradford Barracks)
    300 Series License Plates


    Troop C (Rutland, New Haven, Shaftsbury Barracks)
    400 Series License Plates


    Troop D (Rockingham, Brattleboro, Royalton Barracks)
    500 Series License Plates


    Troop K (Washington County area) -DEFUNCT- Absorbed into Troops A and D by 1991.
    600 Series License Plates


    Troop I (Interstate) -DEFUNCT- Absorbed by HQ for Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit/Traffic Unit.
    700 Series License Plates

    800 Series License Plates: Special Service (Loaners-Misc.assignments.)

    #00 = Troop Commander

    #01 = Station Commander

    #02, #03, # 04 = Patrol Commander

    Numbers below 200 assigned for Headquarters and vehicles not dedicated to a specific Troop.

Sometime in 1990, the Vermont State Police saw the return of their titled STATE POLICE license plates.
The reflective yellow over green debossed aluminum plates utilized similar silkscreened graphics for the state name and STATE POLICE. Vermont was screened in the same stylized font as the previous issue, but in yellow with the same design of a maple tree in the top left corner also silkscreened in yellow.
STATE POLICE was screened in yellow between the lower mounting holes.
The Troop assignment number was prefixed by the letter S. The characters were all debossed in yellow and situated on a raised platform outlined in yellow, forming a yellow rectangular outline around the characters.
The later versions of these plates that came out around 1992, dropped the S prefix and went to a narrower die for the numbers.



  • Vermont  police license plate image1991-1992 issue. Debossed aluminum.
    S prefix before number.
    200 series: Troop A- 01 (Station Commander)
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  • Vermont  police license plate image
  • Vermont  police license plate image1991-1992 SAMPLE issue. Debossed aluminum.
    Reflective deep yellow over deep green.
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Around 1992, a slight change took place on the license plates of the Vermont State Police.
The color and layout were the exact same as the previous issue, however the S prefix was dropped, leaving an all-numeric registration number, and narrower dies were used for the numerals.
The shades of yellow and green were also lighter.
Annual validation decals with October expiry were used once again.



  • Vermont  police license plate image1992-1997 issue. Debossed aluminum.
    Reflective yellow over green.
    500 series: Troop D- Car 4 (Patrol Commander)
  • Vermont  police license plate image400 series: Troop C- Car 44
  • Vermont  police license plate image1992-1997 issue. Debossed aluminum.
    Reflective yellow over green.
    800 series: Special Service issue. Type used on loaner cars not assigned to a particular Troop and other miscellaneous assignments.
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  • Vermont  police license plate image
  • Vermont  police license plate image

1997 saw the Vermont State Police celebrating its 50th Anniversary milestone. As a means of commemorating their Golden Anniversary, they commissioned an absolutely stunning graphic license plate for that year. It is arguably one of the most attractive designs ever developed for a state police/highway patrol agency.
The fully-silkscreened aluminum license plate has a lightly-embossed t-styled application which is ubiquitous to the manufacture of all Vermont license plates for larger vehicles during that time. The backgound of the plate features white clouds over a blue sky at the top of the plate which descends into a foggy shade of white to darkening shades of green mountains towards the bottom of the plate. The state name is silkscreened in very dark green at the top center of the plate and STATE POLICE is screened in bright yellow trimmed in dark green at the bottom center. A full-colored image of the VSP 50th Anniversary badge is situated to the far left field of the plate followed by the number in bright yellow and trimmed in dark green.
The numbers are not silkscreened, but rather applied decals.
The plates were used until 2002.
Annual validation decals with October expiry were used once again.



  • Vermont  police license plate image1997 50th Anniversary issue. Silkscreened aluminum.
    Numbers are applied decals.
    Remainder of plate surface is silkscreened.
    HQ Command Staff number.
  • Vermont  police license plate image200 series: Troop A- Car 48
  • Vermont  police license plate image
  • Vermont  police license plate image1997 50th Anniversary issue. Silkscreened aluminum.
    Numbers are applied decals.
    Remainder of plate surface is silkscreened.
    500 series: Troop D- Car 31.
  • Vermont  police license plate image1997 50th Anniversary issue. Silkscreened aluminum.
    Numbers are applied decals.
    Remainder of plate surface is silkscreened.
    700 series: Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit/Traffic Operations Unit.

When the attractive 50th Anniversary license plates were retired in 2002, the Vermont State Police went back to the more austere yellow over green license plates again.
The plates were almost identical to the previous issue used from 1991 until 1997, however the maple tree motif in the top left corner of the plate was dropped and the font for STATE POLICE at the bottom of the plate was more stylized.
Annual validation decals with October expiry were used once again.



  • Vermont  police license plate image2002-Current issue. Debossed aluminum.
    500 series: Troop D- Car 10.

    (Courtesy Robert Ward)
  • Vermont  police license plate image2002- Troop D- Car 21
    • Vermont  police license plate image2002-Current issue. Debossed aluminum.
      400 series: Troop C- Car 24.
      2007 validation decal.
    • Vermont  police license plate imageTroop A- Car 66
    • Vermont  police license plate image
    • Vermont  police license plate image
    • Vermont  police license plate image2002-Current issue. Debossed aluminum.
      400 series: Troop C- Car 20.
      2016 validation decal.
      This example shows that it has been used on another vehicle previously by the exposed wear on the lower mounting holes.
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    • Vermont  police license plate image2002-Current issue. Debossed aluminum.
      700 series: Commercial Vehicle Enforcement/Traffic Unit Troop Commander.
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    • Vermont  police license plate image
    • Vermont  police license plate image2002-Current SAMPLE issue. Debossed aluminum.
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    • Vermont  police license plate image




    Motorcycle License Plates used by the Vermont State Police


    The Vermont State Highway Patrol utilized motorcycles during their mandate enforcing the state's traffic laws before the emergence of the Vermont State Police in 1947.
    The VSHP had 3 motorcycles in 1931, up to 17 by 1933 and 27 of them when motorcycles were eliminated from the patrol fleet in 1937.
    VSHP Inspectors had to purchase their own motorcycles, and the license plates used on these motorcycles were standard Vermont motorcycle plates with one to two digits.
    There are only two confirmed types from this era:
    1933- An embossed steel plate measuring 4 1/2" x 8 3/4" and colored white over dark blue. VT 33 was embossed over the number 15 and the plate had an embossed border also in white.
    1937- An embossed steel plate measuring 4 1/2" x 8 3/4" and colored dark blue over white. VT occupied the upper left corner and 37 occupied the upper right corner, EXPIRES over MARCH 31 was embossed in the top center over the number 5.
    It is likely that the 1937 Vermont motorcycle license plate number 13 seen below was used by the State Highway Patrol based on its number.

    • Vermont  police license plate image1937 motorcycle issue. Embossed steel.
      Approx. 4 1/2" x 8 3/4". Dark blue over white.
      Low numbers used by motor vehicle inspectors with Vermont State Highway Patrol.
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    The Vermont State Police is not known to have ever incorporated motorcycles into its fleet.



    Specialty Issues

    The following are special issue license plates related to the Vermont State Police



    • Vermont  police license plate image1963-1970 Vermont State Police Auxiliary attachment.
      Embossed aluminum. Dark green over reflective white.
      Civil Defense decal in red, white and blue.
      These plates were issued in matched sets and attached to the license plates of a Vermont State Police Auxiliary Trooper's private vehicle to identify him/his vehicle for civil emergency during the early Cold War years.
      Troop A (200 series). Troop B matched pair at right.
    • Vermont license plate
    • Vermont  police license plate image1970's-1980's Countermeasures Related to Alcohol Safety on the Highways. A detail commenced in the early 1970's where a converted motorhome/bus registered to the state's Department of Health processed motorists for impaired driving by assigned VSP team members.
      The formal CRASH Team was disbanded in 1976, however overtime details using the vehicles lasted into the 1980's when maintenance issues befell the vehicles.
    • Vermont  police license plate imageGraphic prototype sample.

      (Courtesy Chris Fretta)
    • Vermont  police license plate image1997 50th Anniversary issue. Silkscreened aluminum.
      This plate was created as a general souvenir issue, and not intended to be run on any VSP vehicle.
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    • Vermont  police license plate imageNational Troopers Coalition souvenir issue.
      Embossed thin metal.
      Yellow over dark green.
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