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Maine State Police History

1921  34 members of the State Highway Police begin work in July under the supervision of the State Highway Commission. 25 additional officers are commissioned in August. The officers, also known as Inspectors, mostly work on a seasonal basis, but some are full-time They enforce motor vehicle laws and collect money from auto registrations and driver license fees. Some are issued Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles and most are assigned to offices around the state.

1922  The State Highway Police are placed under the supervision of the Secretary of State.

1924  State Highway Police Officer Emery Gooch is killed in a motorcycle accident in Mattawamkeag.

1925  "An act to enlarge the powers of the State Highway Police" is enacted into law by the Maine Legislature. The legislation allows the Governor to appoint a chief and sets the duties and powers of the new separate department.

Arthur H. Field, who had served as Lewiston Police Chief, is named the first Chief of the State Police and serves for two years.

On July 25, 1925, 60 members of the new department meet in Augusta with Governor Ralph Owen Brewster and Chief Field. They present their bonds and are commissioned as members of the State Highway Police, empowered to enforce all Maine laws, in addition to motor vehicle statutes. The new officers are assigned a motorcycle, pistol and a law book and given patrol areas throughout Maine. They are paid $28 a week.

Trooper Fred Foster is killed on August 30 when his motorcycle strikes a horse in Belfast. He was one of the new officers commissioned in July.

The first State Police shoulder patch consists of white letters on a red background.

1926 The 1st Training Troop takes place at Camp Keyes in Augusta. William Hancock is the Camp Commander and the training takes place from April 12 to May 28.

1927 State Adjutant General James W. Hanson is appointed Chief of the State Police and serves for nine years.

1928 Trooper Frank Wing is killed when his motorcycle collides with an oil truck in Millinocket.

(Circa 1933)

1935 "The State Highway Police are hereby designated and shall hereafter be known as the 'State Police'" is approved by the Maine Legislature. The name change makes official what had been customary for several years. Members are still required to re-enlist every three years.

For the second time in 10 years, the department expands to increase the sworn personnel to 100 troopers.

1936 The first automobiles are purchased. The 46 black sedans, costing $515 each, are traded for 47 Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 25 sidecars. Several motorcycles remain in use.

Captain Wilbur H. Towle is named Chief of the State Police and serves for two years.

Department divided into five State Police districts with headquarters located in Wells, Fairfield, Thomaston, Bangor and Presque Isle.

1937 The State Bureau of Identification is created by the Legislature under the control of the State Police. The Bureau will maintain all criminal records in the state.

The "campaign hat" is introduced for Troopers to provide them with greater comfort and protection.

Hundreds of striking shoe workers riot in Auburn. State troopers and the Maine National Guard are called out to restore order.

1938 General John W. Healy is named Chief of the State Police and serves for three years.

New barracks are constructed in Houlton along Route 1 to serve as the Fifth District Headquarters and Troop F, replacing Presque Isle. The building is used until 2000.

1940 New barracks are completed in Thomaston on Route 1 next to the Maine State Prison.

The first 2-way radios are used and State Police radio stations are established in Thomaston, Wells and Augusta.

1941 State Police Headquarters at 36 Hospital Street in Augusta is completed and dedicated on October 2, 1941. Prior to that, various divisions of the State Police are located in office space at the Adjutant General's building, State Highway Commission and at the Augusta Airport administrative building.

Henry P. Weaver is named Chief of the State Police by Governor Sumner Sewall and serves for two years.

1942 State is divided into six troop areas:

  • Troop A -- Wells
  • Troop B -- West Scarborough
  • Troop C -- Fairfield
  • Troop D -- Thomaston
  • Troop E -- Bangor
  • Troop F -- Houlton

Work week for troopers is changed from a seven day week to one day off in seven.

1943 Laurence C. Upton is named Chief of the State Police by Governor Sumner Sewall and serves for five years.

1944 A US Army bomber crashes into a trailer park in South Portland killing two crewmen and 17 persons on the ground. It is the worst plane crash in Maine history and troopers are among those called to the scene.

1947 The State Police radio system becomes a lifeline as troopers relay valuable information to firefighters battling the forest fires in late October that burned over 200,000 acres and killed 15 persons.

1948 New barracks in West Scarborough, along Route 1, is completed at a cost of $36,818. The new brick building is occupied by Troop B.

Francis J. McCabe is named Chief of the State Police by Governor Horace Hildreth and serves for six years.

The 10th Training Troop takes place from April 26 to June 19 at the Sanford Airport. Lt. Robert Marx serves as Director.

1949 New black shoulder patches are issued designating the six different troops. The patch features a green pine tree.

1950 New barracks along Route 2 in Orono is completed and occupied by Troop E. The white Cape Cod building costs $48,000.

1951 The last ten Harley Davidson motorcycles used by the Department are sold at public auction.

 

(Trooper Donald Webber)

1952 New barracks are completed on Route 2 in Skowhegan and occupied by Troop C.

North side wing is added to Augusta Headquarters.

1954 Robert Marx is named Chief of the State Police by Governor Burton Cross and serves for 12 years.

Reorganization of the department approved by the Governor and Executive Council, providing for a central staff of seven :

  • Chief
  • Deputy Chief
  • five Captains in charge of Criminal, Special Services, Traffic & Safety and two Field Divisions

Liaison established between the State Police and the Civil Defense Agency.

1955 Troop G is activated to patrol the Maine Turnpike which is completed from Portland to Augusta during the year.

Detective is named for each Troop.

New barracks in Kittery completed along Route 1 and occupied by Troop A.

New Stetson style hat replaces cap as standard uniform.

Department adopts new license plates with red letters on white background and words "State Police", replacing former plates with black numerals on a blue background with initials "S.P.".

1956 Revolving blue roof lights installed for the first time on cruisers.

Polygraph room equipped and put into use at Augusta Headquarters.

1958 Seven people are killed when their car is struck broadside by a tractor-trailer at Richmond Corner on Labor Day weekend. The crash is investigated by troopers and is the worst motor vehicle accident in Maine history.

New garage completed in the rear parking lot of Augusta Headquarters to maintain the State Police fleet.

Two bloodhounds acquired by department.

1959 A Limerick man, upset over finances, shoots and kills his wife, the Westbrook Police Chief, and wounds two state troopers, one critically, before killing himself. Hundreds of shots were fired in the five hour gun battle between police and the barricaded gunman. Over 100 police officers responded to the shooting at the man's Limerick home.

1960 20th Training Troop takes place at Camp Keyes in Augusta from Sept. 5 to Nov. 11. Captain Willard Orcutt serves as Director.

1961 Open collar short-sleeved shirt adopted for summer wear.

Traffic Division established, made up of Bureau of Traffic Records and the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program.

1962 State Police personnel procedures placed under the rules and regulations of the State Department of Personnel.

1964 Trooper Charles Black is shot to death while responding to a bank robbery in South Berwick. He is the first trooper killed by gunfire and the fourth to die in the line of duty.

1965 South wing of the Augusta Headquarters is completed.

Color of cruisers is changed from black to blue.

1966 Parker F. Hennessey is appointed Chief by Governor John Reed and serves for 8 years. He dies of a heart attack in his office in 1974.

1967 Perleston "Bub" Pert is named the first public information officer for the State Police.

1968 Criminal Intelligence Unit formed to investigate white collar and organized crime.

1969 Troopers work week changed from a six-day week to six days on and two days off.

1970 276 people lose their lives on Maine highways, the most fatalities ever in one year. Troopers investigate the majority of those traffic crashes.

1971 70 troopers are dispatched to Madawaska to maintain order during a labor strike at the Fraser Paper Company. A confrontation between troopers and over 300 strikers, wives and children resulted in rocks being thrown and six State Police cruisers damaged.

1972 The Maine Department of Public Safety is created by the Legislature and the State Police becomes a Bureau within that new department.

50 Troopers are joined by 150 other law enforcement officers from across New England in a gambling raid at the Poland Spring Inn. 60 persons are arrested, making it the largest mass arrest in Maine.

1973 Corporal rank instituted.

Agility test adopted for trooper applicants; height to weight ratio substituted for minimum height and maximum weight requirements.

Troop G headquarters moved to a brick maintenance building along the Turnpike in West Gardiner.

1974 Donald E. Nichols Sr., is appointed Chief of the State Police by Governor Kenneth Curtis and serves for two years.

Troop I activated to patrol Interstate 95 from Waterville to Houlton. The Troop was disbanded in 1984.

Troop A (formerly Kittery), Troop B (formerly West Scarborough), Troop G (Turnpike) and the Southern Criminal Investigation Division are relocated into a rented office building along Route 1 in Scarborough, under a 15 year lease.

The Uniform Crime Reporting Division is established to collect and evaluate crime reports from all Maine law enforcement agencies.

Adoption of high collar dress blouse for formal occasions.

Garage addition completed at the Houlton barracks.

30th Training Troop completes 16 weeks of training at the newly opened Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Waterville with 27 new troopers graduating. The new facility is the former Thomas College campus on Silver Street and serves as the central training facility of Maine law enforcement until 2001.

1975 Major J. Edward Marks retires from the State Police after a 50 year career. Marks is considered the "Dean of the Nation's State Troopers" and was one of the original troopers hired in 1925.

First aircraft acquired to enforce the 55 mile per hour speed limit imposed during the nationwide energy crisis.

Two snowmobiles purchased with sleds for use in winter rural patrols.

1976 Allan H. Weeks Jr., is appointed Chief of the State Police by Governor James Longley and serves for eleven years.

The patrol force is equipped with Citizen Band radios, purchased with a federal grant. Because of CB's wide popularity with motorists the new radios are used as a communications resource for highway safety.

An Underwater Recovery Unit, known as the Dive Team, is established to assist in criminal investigations.

A confiscated motorhome seized in a drug arrest is converted into a "Mobile Command Post" to be used in investigations at remote locations.

(Trooper John Cormier)

1977 Anna Polvinen becomes the first woman trooper following her graduation from the Maine State Police Academy, as a member of the 34th Training Troop. Other women would follow in later years.

The .38 caliber service revolver is replaced by the more powerful Smith & Wesson .357 magnum.

Mandatory age retirement removed.

The age limit for applying for a trooper is lowered to 20. However the person must be age 21 upon graduation from the academy.

1978 The Aircraft Enforcement Unit becomes a permanent part of the department after proving itself a useful tool in traffic enforcement.

1979 17 people are killed when a Downeast Airlines plane crashes in rain and fog at the Owl's Head Airport. State Police are among the many agencies that rush to the scene to assist.

A law enforcement orientation program is initiated to assist in the placement of additional women and minorities into the State Police.

1980 Trooper Thomas Merry is struck and killed by a car involved in a high speed chase in Palmyra while attempting to set up a roadblock. He is the fifth trooper to die in the line of duty.

90 troopers spend almost a month at the Maine State Prison as part of "Operation Safety", when intelligence indicates the possibility of an inmate uprising. The "lock down" is the largest assignment of troopers over an extended period in State Police history.

The first Canine Unit is formed after two troopers and their dogs receive out-of-state training.

The Tactical Team is created, made up of specially trained troopers to respond to barricaded person and hostage-type emergencies.

A BAT-mobile is put into use. BAT, short for Breath Alcohol Testing, is a specially equipped van with an Intoxilyzer for rural drunk driving offenders.

1981 George Bush is sworn in as Vice President of the United States. The State Police become involved in the security at his ocean front vacation home in Kennebunkport. Troopers continue to provide protection after Bush is elected President in 1988.

Two escaped convicts from the Maine State Prison begin a 22 day manhunt. The search was concentrated around Moody Mountain in Searsmont and hundreds of troopers, deputy sheriffs, game wardens and 20 canine teams from across New England are involved in the search. It was due to the tracking ability of the canines the two escapees were finally captured on August 5th. Canine Ben, who had been wounded, received the state police bravery award and was retired.

State Police began an experimental program of utilizing rural troopers on 12 hour shift work, rather than 24 hour on-call duty. The program becomes permanent in 1982.

In an effort to save gasoline, troop commanders and plainclothes officers are assigned smaller cars.

1982 Troop J is established to serve Washington and Hancock counties. The barracks is a converted library on Route 191 in East Machias.

The Maine State Police Canine School conducts it's first graduation and four troopers and their dogs receive their certificates.

1983 150 troopers provide security for the week long National Governor's Conference in Portland, attended by 47 governors. It is the largest call-out of troopers for a single event in State Police history.

Maine State Police Memorial Scholarship Fund is established to provide scholarships to the children of active, retired or deceased State Police officers.

Voluntary fingerprinting of children for identification purposes becomes an ongoing program for the State Police.

1984 OUI roadblocks are initiated by State Police in rural areas to apprehend drunk drivers.

The Organized Crime Investigative Division is established to coordinate criminal intelligence and drug enforcement.

The Division of Internal Affairs is established to investigate all complaints against troopers.

State Police coordinate the first marijuana eradication program, aimed at locating outdoor plots of marijuana.

Child abuse investigators are assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division.

Hostage Negotiation Unit is established.

1985 Retirement benefits for troopers are changed. For new troopers, full retirement benefits will start after 25 years of service at the age of 55. Veteran troopers remain under the 20-year retirement plan.

A uniformed trooper is assigned as Community Relations Officer funded by a federal highway safety grant.

The first State Police Awards Night is held to honor employees, retirees and civilians.

State Police institute a motto, "Semper Aequus" (Always Just) to reflect the essence of troopers efforts to serve and protect the people within Maine.

1986 State Police Crime Laboratory is constructed next to headquarters in Augusta. The 12,000 square foot building contains lab space for serology, finger printing, firearms examinations and forensic photography.

Trooper Michael Veilleux is killed when he loses control of his cruiser and it crashes in Dayton. He is the sixth trooper to die in the line of duty.

Maine State Police Training Academy is expanded from 16 to 18 weeks. The 40th Training Troop graduates on December 14 with 23 members.

Troop G relocates it's headquarters to Crosby Farm, along the Maine Turnpike in South Portland.

1987 Andrew E. Demers, Jr. is named Chief of the State Police, by Public Safety Commissioner John R. Atwood and Governor John R. McKernan and serves six years.

60 troopers keep the peace during a vocal and tense labor strike at the International Paper Co. in Jay.

1988 9 mm Beretta semiautomatic pistols are issued to troopers to replace the .357 Smith & Wesson service revolvers.

Maine voters approve a $3 million Public Safety bond issue. The projects proposed for improvement are new barracks in Gray and Alfred, a South Portland garage and renovations to the Thomaston and Orono barracks.

1989 Detective Giles Landry is shot and killed investigating a child abuse case in the town of Leeds, becoming the seventh trooper to die in the line of duty.

Construction is completed at the new barracks in Gray, along Route 26. The facility houses Troop B, the Southern Communications Center and the Southern Criminal Division. The project costs $1 million.

1990 New barracks is completed in Alfred, along Route 202, to house Troop A. The facility, costing $450,000, is funded from proceeds of the 1988 Public Safety bond issue.

The new fleet maintenance facility, along the Maine Turnpike in South Portland, is completed at a cost of $688,000.

The former Scarborough barracks on Route 1 is vacated following a 15 year lease.

Utilizing a $90,000 federal grant, a new "Mobile Command Post" is purchased for use in Southern Maine. The 36 foot long motor home, containing investigative and communications equipment, will be used at major crime scenes.

The last "original trooper", Lt. Foster King of Rangeley, dies at the age of 86. He was the last surviving member of the original troopers hired in 1925.

62 troopers are called into downtown Waterville after several hundred persons become disruptive at a July 4th celebration.

1991 The Maine Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Augusta, is dedicated and honors all Maine law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. As of November, 2000, there are 76 names on the memorial.

Colonel Andrew Demers, Chief of the State Police, is featured on the CBS-TV program "Top Cops", reenacting a 1986 shoot-out in Bowdoinham.

70 troopers and 140 other local and county law enforcement officers oversee a large and vocal gay rights demonstration in Kennebunkport, near President Bush's summer home. There are no arrests but it is the largest number of demonstrators in recent times in Maine.

1993 Alfred R. Skolfield is appointed chief by Public Safety Commissioner John Atwood and Governor John McKernan. He serves for four years.

Lt. Richard Arnold is the second member of the State Police to be featured on the CBS-TV program "Top Cops." In 1986, Arnold single handedly arrested an armed man who held up an Augusta bank.

1994 Trooper Jeffrey Parola is killed when his cruiser crashes in Sidney. Parola, a member of the Tactical Team, was responding to a domestic violence call. He is the eighth trooper to die in the line of duty.

The State Police Academy is expanded from 18 to 22 weeks.

The Bomb Disposal team is formed after a similar team from the Brunswick Naval Air Station relocates out of state. Two troopers receive special training and two more are added to the team in 1996.

In an effort to curb high speed police chases, 550 spike mats are purchased by the Bureau of Highway Safety and distributed to State Police, county and local law enforcement agencies.

Extensive renovations are completed at the Thomaston and Orono barracks.

1995 Video cameras, purchased with federal highway safety funds, are installed in many cruisers. The cameras prove useful in drunk driving enforcement and have several other law enforcement uses.

1996 Trooper James Griffith is killed when his cruiser is struck by another vehicle on Route l in Warren. He is the ninth trooper to die in the line of duty.

1997 Malcolm T. Dow is appointed chief by Governor Angus S. King and serves for two years.

Detective Glenn Strange dies of heart problems days after arresting a violent drunk driver in Linneus. He is the tenth trooper to die in the line of duty.

A $300,000 addition to the State Police Crime Lab in Augusta is opened to house a DNA section.

60,000 fans of the rock group "Phish" attend a three day rock concert at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. State Police coordinate the security for the event-the largest rock concert ever staged in Maine. The event is repeated in 1998.

1998 The bridge on Route 1 in Warren is dedicated to Trooper James Griffith, and a new bridge on Route 2 in Palmyra is dedicated to Trooper Thomas Merry. Both troopers were killed in car crashes.

1999 Michael R. Sperry is appointed the 15th chief of the State Police by Public Safety Commissioner Michael F. Kelly and Governor Angus S. King.

225 troopers are called out for New Year's Eve in case of Y2K computer problems. The troopers were stationed at armories around Maine and no problems occurred.

H&K 45 caliber handguns are issued to troopers, replacing the Beretta 9mm guns in use since 1988.

2000 The Crime Lab becomes nationally accredited following four years of work on the accreditation process.

The new Public Safety building in Houlton is opened to replace the old Houlton State Police barracks. The $1.8 million dollar building is located along Route 1, behind where the former barracks stood since 1938.

The 47th State Police Training Troop graduates 22 new troopers following 20 weeks of training. Beginning in 2001, troopers will be trained with municipal and county officers at the new Maine Criminal Justice Academy located at the former Oak Grove School in Vassalboro.

Retirement benefits for troopers are changed to a straight 25 year plan.

"Integrity, Compassion, Fairness, Excellence" are adopted as the core values of the State Police.

On July 23, 2000 the Maine State Police noted their 75th anniversary.