STATEWIDE — The Maine State Police is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
In July of 1921, 34 members of the State Highway Patrol began their work with a few badges and motorcycles, including Harleys, Indians and even the rare Hendersons.
These men enforced motor vehicle laws and collected fees for auto registrations and licenses.
In 1922, Maine’s secretary of state took over supervision of the highway control and just three years later, the legislature took “An Act to Enlarge the Powers of the State Highway Police” and turned it into law.
“Our legacy started a 100 years ago and we pride ourselves on our history and the legacy of the ones before us,” said current Maine State Trooper Jordan Bragan.
By 1935, the legislature officially changed the name to the Maine State Police.
For the celebration this year, the state police have added nine special edition marked cruisers with new replicated license plates of the first plates ever used in 1921.
The special edition black cruisers are marked with the same door seal found on the first cruisers issued back in the 1930s.
According to the State Police Facebook page, “These vehicles were included in our normal fleet order and were not additional purchases. They will remain on the road for the full service life well beyond 2021.”
Troopers also have the opportunity to purchase the same badges worn as the original officers from 100 years ago.
“The fact they wore these badges 100 years ago and now we are 100 years later wearing it again, I mean, that’s pretty cool to me,” said Bragan.
There’s also a significant number on all of the 100th anniversary memorabilia.
“The number 12, and that number represents the 12 members of our agency that we’ve lost in the line of duty during our first 100 years,” said Maine State Police Chief John Cote.
One of the biggest changes in the years is the technology that allows for faster responses, safer protection and an edge to perform the duties of a law enforcement officer.
Back in the early days, troopers would receive their complaints from a dispatch phone call to a local grocery store.
According to retired State Trooper Mark Nickerson, the store would then place a flag to signal the trooper on duty about the call.
“As the trooper drove by, if he saw this flag that means he had to go in the store make a call back to the dispatch center, get the call and then go to the complaint,” said Nickerson.
If the trooper never saw the flag or responded, dispatch would send out another trooper looking for him.
As one can tell, response times have changed drastically since then but the history keeps legacies going.
“My family and myself is rich in history of the Maine State Police and it means so much to me to be apart of it.” Nickerson said.
A lot has changed in 100 years but some things always stay the same, including the relationships between a trooper, other law enforcement agencies and the community.
“I think that’s one thing that’s remained consistent, we know if we are going to be successful we’ve got to have that commitment and relationship with the communities we serve,” Cote said.
The Maine State Police will also have a unique anniversary yearbook coming out for the first time in two decades.
“It will provide a great lookback at every aspect of our agency and how when a need came up and services were needed to be expanded that we were ready to meet that challenge,” Cote said.
For more information on the 100th anniversary, check out the Maine State Police website.