Vermont State Police

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.

Vermont State Flag

The picture on a deep blue field is a scene painting.
You see a tall pine tree, a cow and sheaves of wheat.
The Green Mountains are in the distance. Pine boughs
extend around a shield. The name "Vermont" and
the state motto "Freedom and Unity" are displayed on a crimson banner.
At the the top of the shield is a stag's head.


ST prefixed State Use plate ~ circa 1945
At the time, the Vermont State Police was known
as the Vermont Highway Patrol.
Picture courtesy of the Vermont State Police
 

1948 issue- ST prefix for state vehicle.
Second year of Vermont State Police
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1951 State base
Plate courtesy of the John Yeaw Collection
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this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1953-circa1957 issue- First issue titled VSP plate. Reflective screened aluminum. (Approx. 6"x13.5") This plate was once fastened to the front of the patrol car assigned to Trooper Glenn Davis, who, during this period became the state of Vermont's first licensed polygrapher. Trooper Davis later became Director of the Vermont State Police in the 1960's, and served as an official host to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 during a Presidential visit to the Green Mountain State.


Picture courtesy of the Vermont State Police


1956-1962 issue: Known as "Type 2" version. 6"x 12"
flat-screened with no state name. It has been said that
earlier versions of this type were made of steel and later
versions made of aluminum although no specimens of the
latter have surfaced. Positioning of STATE POLICE can vary
from where the "S" of STATE is directly below the upper left
bolthole, or the first "T" of STATE is in the same position.
Plates courtesy of the Chris Fretta Collection



Pictures courtesy of the Vermont State Police

1963-1970 issue: Known as "Type 3" version. All embossed
border-less aluminum with the return of the state name to the
top of the plate. This issue introduced the Troop designation
numbering system for VSP license plates
(Troop B-Derby/St. Johnsbury/Bradford) Car 12.
Plate courtesy of the Chris Fretta Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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Circa 1970-1984 issue- Debossed aluminum. Validation sticker use commenced around 1979. This one with 1981 validation sticker. Darker yellow version

Picture courtesy of the Vermont State Police

Circa 1970-1984 issue- Debossed aluminum. Validation sticker use commenced around 1979. This one with no validation sticker. Brighter yellow version
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
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1985- 1990 issue- State Vehicle plate. Debossed aluminum. Small tree emblem in top left corner.



Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein


1990- 1991 issue- Short lived type. S-prefix followed by 3 digit number. First number being Troop designation. 2=Troop A (Williston) 01= Troop Commander.
Small tree emblem in top left corner.

1991-1997 issue- Similar to 1990 version, however the S prefix was dropped and the dies used were much thinner/smaller. 5= Troop D (Brattleboro). This plate was issued to a Sergeant. Small tree emblem in top left corner.

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1997- circa 2002- 50th Anniversary plate. Arguably the most attractive graphic license plate of any SP-HP agency. VSP Anniversary badge and numbers are decal applications.

2002- Current issue. Similar to 1991-1997 issue however no tree emblem and a more ornate font used for lettering along the bottom legend. Renewed with October validation decals.
Plate courtesy of the Robert Ward Collection

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1997- circa 2002- 50th Anniversary promotional plate. Arguably the most attractive graphic license plate of any SP-HP agency. VSP Anniversary badge is a decal application, but the 50th Anniversary banner script is silkscreened.
 

Circa late 1950's/1960's issue- State Police Auxiliary attachment. Embossed aluminum with reflective sheeting. Same dies/colors as used on regular VSP plates of that era. Features reflective Civil Defense decal in upper right corner. These plates would be used by VSP Auxiliary officers on the front of their personal vehicles to identify their authority.
 

National Troopers Coalition Plate

Picture courtesy of Bill Ceravola