The Massachusetts State Police is the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in the country and has remained active since its inception in 1865. Screenshot via YouTube.
Gen. William Sterling King was shot 21 times and suffered seven severe wounds in the Civil War Battle of Antietam. Following his service with Company K, 35th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, his well-earned reputation as a soldier segued him into his subsequent law enforcement career.
In June 1865, a month after Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew formed America’s first statewide law enforcement agency, King was appointed the first chief of the Massachusetts State Police. A recent video posted to YouTube highlights the law enforcement agency’s legendary history.
“The earliest duties of this statewide agency were the enforcement of the state alcohol prohibition laws, which had gone largely unheeded in local jurisdictions,” says the video’s narrator, Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback for the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “In 1921, Gov. Channing Cox established the State Police Patrol, and today’s MSP began to take shape.”
From 1865 to 1971, Massachusetts state troopers resided in the barracks for their tours of duty. When the live-in barracks system was done away with, all state troopers were issued their own cruisers to bring home. All state troopers are required to respond to calls at a moment’s notice, 24/7.
The video covers the more than 150-year history of the Massachusetts State Police, including footage of the training, duties, and responsibilities that a typical state trooper experiences throughout his or her career.
“There are many special events that the State Police are assigned to, including the Boston Marathon, the Fourth of July celebration on the Esplanade, New England Patriot games, music concerts, and the Head of the Charles Regatta, to name a few,” Brady says in the video. “As tragedy strikes, as it did at the end of the 2013 Boston Marathon, nearly every section and unit in the State Police is called upon to assist.”
Massachusetts state troopers train to patrol on motorcycles, horses, boats, bicycles, ATVs, and even helicopters.
Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.
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