DIMONDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan State Police are celebrating their centennial anniversary this year by bringing back a classic look to some of their cruisers.
Fifty Dodge Charger pursuit vehicles decked out in black and gold hit the road Wednesday. The color scheme is the same carried on the earliest MSP patrol vehicles.
Rockford native David Williams is one of several troopers statewide rewarded for his proactive police work. Along with receiving the Corporal Samuel Mapes Award, Williams was among the first troopers to get behind the wheel of one of the anniversary Chargers.
“It’s sweet,” said Williams, who is assigned to the Lansing post. “People are going to look at it and it’s going to remind them that we’re out there.”
Wayland Post Trooper Ian Fields is another Mapes Award recipient assigned to one of the new cars.
“We’ve had people giving us the thumbs up. It seems to be pretty positive,” said Fields.
At least one of the specialty cruisers is assigned to every MSP post.
The Michigan State Police was founded in 1917 out of fear that Word War I would call up National Guard members, depleting the state of men needed to protect Michigan.
Fifty men, all veterans of the Spanish-American War, U.S. Cavalry and National Guard, made up the first deployment of Michigan State Troops.
The agency evolved through the decades, and so did its mode of transportation.
In 1954, the head of MSP decided the patrol car fleet needed a color change. The agency settled on a distinct light blue.
Skeptical troopers dubbed the new vehicles “blue gooses,” according to a documentary produced by MSP for their 75th anniversary in 1992. The nickname survives today.
“We’re very committed to our history,” said Lansing Post Commander, 1st Lt. Joe Thomas.
“The car’s one of those things that helps us engage the public. So wherever these cars are assigned, whatever troopers are assigned to it, you’re bound to be engaged by someone who wants to know just a little bit more about the Michigan State Police,” he said.
The black patrol cars didn’t cost taxpayers anything extra. They’re part of MSP’s regular replacement order. Like the rest of the fleet, they’ll be retired in three to five years.