History of the Michigan State Police

Through your support the Michigan State Police Museum and Learning Center will be able to preserve and honor the history and traditions of the Michigan State Police (MSP).

The MSP began as a temporary, wartime emergency force for the purpose of domestic security during World War I. On April 19, 1917, Governor Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force, (also known as the Michigan State Constabulary). With Colonel Roy C. Vandercook as the first commanding officer, this new force consisted of five troops of mounted, dismounted and motorized units, totaling 300 men. On March 26, 1919, Public Act 26 reorganized the Constabulary as the permanent, peace-time MSP.

Today, the MSP consists of a modern-day force of law enforcement professionals, using the latest training and technology to protect the residents of Michigan. What was once a cavalry of 300 men now has evolved into one of the leading police agencies of the United States.

The pride and commitment that began in 1917 continue today, as the men and women of the MSP carry on the department’s PROUD tradition of SERVICE through EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY, and COURTESY.


Col. Roy C. Vandercook, the first commanding officer of the Michigan State Troops. Harley-Davidson motorcycles replaced horses as the standard vehicle for highway patrol in 1924. A trooper outside the Michigan State Police Headquarters in East Lansing in 1940. The first comprehensive history book was published by Commissioner Olander in 1942 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Michigan State Police. In 1954, the patrol car color changed from black to blue, which remains the standard today. The Michigan State Police celebrated their 75th anniversary in 1992.