Our History

Prior To 1947  |  1947  |  1948  |  Today
For more information on the history on the Vermont State Police please check out the Vermont State Police Archives Center and Museum.
Group of troopers lined up
Trooper standing by patrol car


Prior to 1947, Vermont law enforcement was primarily county based. Each of the state’s fourteen counties had an elected sheriff responsible for providing all law enforcement services to towns in the county without their own police departments. During this time the only state law enforcement agency was the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Patrol, which primarily enforced motor vehicle laws and investigated accidents.


In the mid-1930s, there were several attempts calling for the creation of a statewide police system. In 1935, a special committee was formed to study the feasibility of such a system, which proved to be positive and helped to grow support. In 1937, a bill was introduced to the Vermont Legislature to create a Department of Public Safety which did not pass.

In December of 1946, a Bennington College student named Paula Welden went missing while walking on the Long Trail and is one of the oldest cold cases in the state. The disappearance of Welden and the mishaps that happened with the investigation lead to the change in attitude of the opponents of the previous proposed bill in 1937. With the help of then-Governor Ernest W. Gibson, the Vermont General Assembly passed Act Number 163, which created the Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS), which was to be enacted on July 1, 1947.


Major General Merritt A. Edson, a former U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II, was appointed as the first commissioner of the newly formed DPS. The original strength of the agency was only 169, with 37 being civilian staff and 125 Troopers. The uniforms worn by Vermont State Police Troopers would be modeled after the U. S. Marine Corps but would incorporate the states colors of green and gold, which is still worn by Troopers today.

The first headquarters was established February 9, 1948, at Redstone in the state capital of Montpelier. For the price of $25,000, the State bought the building and 10 acres of land.

The first State Police radio system was completed September 28, 1948. For the first time, a three-way radio system allowed stations to talk to each other and to patrol cars. The radio system did eliminate the need to post signs in public places. Over time, the agency began utilizing new technology, strategies, and tools to better serve the citizens of Vermont.


Currently, the strength of the Vermont State Police stands with 333 total sworn positions, with 223 uniform Troopers, 95 members in the criminal division and 14 support services positions. The agency continues to use up-to-date technology, equipment, and practices to uphold the highest standards we provide.