Wisconsin State Patrol

On September 1, 1939, the Wisconsin legislature passed a statute creating the Motor Vehicle Department, which consisted of three divisions - the new enforcement division began with 46 “inspectors” to enforce the state motor vehicle code and the regulating of motor carriers. This was the nucleus of the Wisconsin State Patrol.

The "State Traffic Patrol" as it was known, saw their new officers in 1939, purchase their own patrol cars, and received a $30 per month reimbursement from the state, plus fuel, oil and grease. Each STP Officer received a siren, a flashing red light, and special license plates to display while on duty.

When the patrol car had to be used for personal reasons, the special plates had to come off and be replaced with regular personal plates. Despite this tiresome practice, the departmental shield on the doors of the car remained in place whether on or off duty.

During the 1950's, the Patrol underwent major changes. The Patrol jumped from a force of 70 uniformed officers to 250. The patrol became authorized to use radar for traffic speed enforcement in 1953. Formal education instructions were started in 1955 with the establishment of a training academy at Fort McCoy. This was also the year that STP officers commenced firearms training.

The Patrol used gray patrol cars with a black roof and trunk, and 10% of patrol cars were unmarked. In the mid-1960's, the WSP went to a blue and white paint scheme which remained in place until the 1980's when cost considerations moved the WSP to choose an all blue car.

In 1956, the WSP acquired Harley Davidson motorcycles for the fleet. The division currently operates 14 safety and weight stations and the Wisconsin State Patrol academy which provides diverse law enforcement training programs for federal, state and local law enforcement officers.

The State Patrol promotes highway safety and enhances the quality of life for all Wisconsin citizens and visitors by providing professional, competent and compassionate law enforcement services. Some of the services they provide are: size/weight inspection, motor carrier safety assistance, ambulance inspection, school bus inspection, crash reconstruction, and mobile data communication.

Other services include aid to local law enforcement agencies through civil disturbance countermeasures, natural disaster recovery support, communications services and chemical testing services for drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Through the years many changes have been made, but the patrol’s goal has always been and will continue to be assisting the motoring public and making Wisconsin’s highways safe. The size of the patrol has increased to the present day strength of 400 troopers and 112 inspectors.

Wisconsin State Flag

Starting at the top of a shield on a dark blue field is the state motto "Forward".
Below it is a badger the state animal. A sailor and miner show that the
people work on water and land. The shield in the center shows Wisconsin's
support for the United States. In four sections surrounding the shield are
representations of the states main industries: Agriculture, mining,
manufacturing and navigation. The cornucopia and pile of lead represent
farm products and minerals. The flag law was amended in 1979 to include
the name of the state and the date of statehood.


The earliest known titled WSP plates commenced in 1939
and used a similar format until 1955 although earlier
versions varied. The earlier plates were black over deep yellow and were made of embossed steel measuring 13 3/8" X 6".
From the left of the plate, a five point star WIS followed by
STATE TRAFFIC PATROL followed by assignment
number up to 2 digits. Later issue of this type (1952-1955)
had a lighter yellow background and a painted border.-



Photo Courtesy of Monty McCord

1956-1959 issue- Embossed aluminum. Long mounting slot in top left corner with 3 mounting holes. Tab slots with squared edges. Full length crease over state name.
Broken crease below top mounting holes.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.


Click image for a larger picture


1960-1961 issue- Embossed aluminum. Long mounting slot in lower left corner with 3 mounting holes. Tab slots with rounded edges. Full length crease over state name.
No top crease. 1= Madison District - Car 28.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1962-1964 issue- Embossed aluminum. Long mounting slot in upper left corner with 3 mounting holes. Tab slots with rounded edges. Full length crease over state name.
No top crease. 1= Madison District- Car 23.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.

We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?


1965-1966 issue- Embossed aluminum. Long mounting slot in upper left corner with 3 mounting holes. No tab slots. Full length crease over state name. No top crease.
1= Madison District- Car 72.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1967-1972 issue- Embossed aluminum. Dull reflective sheeting."Keyhole" mounting slot in lower right corner with 3 mounting holes. Full length crease just below upper bolt-holes, No bottom crease. WISCONSIN in larger dies.
6= Eau Claire 02= Assistant District Commander.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.

Photo courtesy of the
Wisconsin State Patrol

1972-1977 issue- Embossed aluminum. Dull reflective sheeting. "Keyhole" mounting slot in lower right corner
with 3 mounting holes. Partial crease that runs the span
below the two upper bolt-holes.
6= Eau Claire 02= Assistant District Commander.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1977-1987 issue- Embossed aluminum. Bright reflective sheeting. "Keyhole" mounting slot in lower right corner with 3 mounting holes. Full length crease just below upper bolt-holes. 6= Eau Claire Car 42.
This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1987-1988 issue- embossed aluminum. Bright reflective sheeting. 4 round mounting holes. No creases. 6= Eau Claire Car 42. This issue ran into subsequent year as cars miled-out.

Click picture for a larger image

Late 1988-1989 issue- Embossed aluminum. Bright reflective sheeting. 4 round mounting holes. No creases. STATE PATROL and 5-point star are silkscreened. 66= Eau Claire State Patrol Inspector (Commercial vehicles) Unit 02
We are looking for a picture showing
this type plate on duty....
Can you help us?

1989-2000 issue- Embossed aluminum. 50th Anniversary version. Number and step border is only embossing on the plate. Remainder is silkscreened. 6= Eau Claire Car 42

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1989-2000 issue- Embossed aluminum. 50th Anniversary version. Number and step border is only embossing on the plate. Remainder is silkscreened. 66= Eau Claire State Patrol Inspector (Commercial vehicles) Unit 02

Picture courtesy of Jay Weinstein

1989-2000 issue- Embossed aluminum. 50th Anniversary version. Number and step border is only embossing on the plate. Remainder is silkscreened. WSP Major.
 

1989-2000 issue Sample
Embossed aluminum. 50th Anniversary version.
Number and step border is only embossing on the plate.
Remainder is silkscreened.

 

2000-Current issue- Embossed aluminum.
Number and step border is only embossing on the plate.
Remainder is silkscreened.
Courtesy of the Bob Bruce Collection

All-silkscreened issue stated to have been issued at a WISP or NTC conference sometime in the late 1990's.
Need confirming information.
 

All-silkscreened issue stated to have been issued at a WISP or NTC conference sometime in the late 1990's.
Need confirming information.
Motorcycle plate ~ 1967 base
Black/refl blue; 8 1/8 x 4 3/8; "WIS" top left;
3 or 4 digit serial; 4001-4012 reserved for State Patrol
Photo courtesy of the
Wisconsin State Patrol

Current Issue Motorcycle plate
Picture courtesy of PCO/PIO James Westover,
Wisconsin State Patrol

National Troopers Coalition issue (plastic)

Courtesy of the Bob Bruce Collection