Massachusetts State Police

Massachusetts State Police
Massachusetts State Police
Abbreviation MSP
Massachusetts State Police.png
Patch of the Massachusetts State Police.
Seal of the State Police of Massachusetts.svg
Massachusetts State Police seal
Badge of the Massachusetts State Police.
Agency overview
Formed 1865
Employees 2,700 [1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Massachusetts, USA
MA - Troop Map.png
Massachusetts State Police Troop Map
Legal jurisdiction Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governing body Commonwealth of Massachusetts
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Framingham, Massachusetts
Troopers 2,300 [1]
Civilians 400 [1]
Agency executive Colonel Marian McGovern, Superintendent
Parent agency Executive Office of Public Safety
Stations 39
Patrol Vehicles Ford Crown Victoria, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Explorer, Dodge Charger, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, Ford Expedition, Dodge Nitro
Aviation Units Eurocopter AS355[2]
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Massachusetts State Police (MSP) is an agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Executive Office of Public Safety and Security responsible for criminal law enforcement and traffic vehicle regulation across the state. At present, it has approximately 2,300 officers and 400 civilian support staff—making it the largest law enforcement agency in New England, The MSP is headed by Colonel Marian McGovern. She is the first woman to head the MSP in its 144 year history. Its General Headquarters (GHQ) is located in Framingham, Massachusetts. The MSP is the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in the United States behind the Texas Rangers.[3]



The MSP was founded in September 1865, making it the oldest state-wide police agency in the United States. It has its beginnings from President Calvin Coolidge, then Governor of Massachusetts, in order to curtail union riots in the streets of Boston.[clarification needed] Calvin Coolidge asked longtime friend, Joseph O'Connor, to head up the agency. Joseph O'Connor is the first State Police officer in the United States. Calvin Coolidge grew up and had his first law practice in Northampton, MA., and there he met Joseph O'Connor, a resident of neighboring South Hadley. The agency remained small and rather informal until 1921, when the MSP was enlarged to comprise 50 officers stationed in barracks across the state with the primary mission of providing law enforcement to rural areas underserved by existing local police agencies. This law enforcement mission was performed by the Trooper on horse back, usually, and in motor cars in areas with upgraded roads. The MSP enlarged its mission to handle primary vehicular regulation on the Commonwealth's interstate and limited-access highways after their development mid-century; during this period, it also established a presence in protecting Logan International Airport.

For much of the twentieth century, the MSP was organized along militaristic lines with a heavy emphasis on the role of the barracks, Spartan working conditions, and a uniformity in appearance and internal culture. Until recently, the MSP maintained one of the strictest regimens for physical size requirements for applicants. Efforts are being made presently to render the department more racially diverse, as well as more inclusive of women and LGBT officers.

The history of the agency is being researched and preserved for the 2010 opening of the Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center. The museum is being made possible by funding of MSP troopers and employees. The museum will be located at the site of the former Troop C2 barracks in Grafton. There is currently a temporary museum at the barracks until construction is completed. Planned exhibits for the museum are

  • Restored 1931, 1941, 1951 Ford Cruisers
  • Motorcycles, including a 1963 Harley Davidson
  • State Police Weapons (past & present)
  • Historical uniforms, hats and artifacts
  • Harvard riot photos and riot equipment
  • Mounted police equipment and other Equine related items
  • Original teletype machine
  • The first computer used by the State Police department
  • Historic daily station logs
  • President John F. Kennedy photos and memorabilia
  • Nostalgic badges and patches

Since the MSP's inception, 32 troopers have been killed in the line of duty. The earliest death was in 1909 and the latest death was June 18, 2010.

Consolidation of State Controlled Police Agencies

In 1992, the former Massachusetts Department of Public Safety - Division of State Police, Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Police, Massachusetts Capitol Police, and Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) Police (commonly known as the Metropolitan Police) departments merged to form what is currently known as the Department of State Police (an agency within the Executive Office of Public Safety, which is different from the Department of Public Safety). The four former agencies officially ceased to exist on July 1, 1992. After discussions regarding the uniform for the new agency, it was decided that the distinctive uniform and seal of the former Division of State Police would be retained by the newly formed Department of State Police. The ranks of Corporal and Staff Sergeant were not carried over into the new agency. The Massachusetts Environmental Police remain a separate entity under the Division of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Law Enforcement, which is under the auspices of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. As of late, there has been political debate concerning the state police merging with the MBTA Transit Police.[4]


Recruit and in-service training for the Massachusetts State Police takes place at the MSP academy located centrally in Massachusetts at 340 West Brookfield Rd. in New Braintree. Prior to the 1992 merger, the Division of State Police's Training Academy was located in Framingham, Massachusetts. This facility now houses the Department of State Police General Headquarters.

Becoming a Trooper is a competitive process. Approximately 14,000 men and women took the written entrance exam in June 2002. Out of that, only a few hundred were selected to become members of the MSP. After receiving a conditional job offer, the recruit then has to make it through twenty-six weeks of paramilitary training as part of a Recruit Training Troop (RTT). As of April 2009, the State Police no longer administers its own standalone examination for appointment to the Department. The State Police now generate a prospective list from candidates that take the Massachusetts Police Officer Civil Service examination who elect to be considered for appointment to the State Police; this is the same examination that is used by many municipal departments and the MBTA.

During the twenty-six weeks of training the recruit lives at the academy Monday through Friday. Their day starts early at 5:30 and goes right until 8 p.m. with lights out around 9:30. The recruits attend over ninety-eight academic classes and must pass ten cumulative exams with a passing score of seventy percent. Along with classes, recruits have to take part in daily physical regimens such as running and weight lifting.

The academy takes a toll both mentally and physically on the recruit and many recruits do not make it through. To give an example, when the 77th RTT started in November 2004 there were 180 recruits. During the first week 44 recruits dropped out and 34 new recruits had to be added in. By the end of the twenty-six weeks only 137 graduated, earning themselves the title of Massachusetts State Trooper.

Rank Structure

The Massachusetts State Police rank structure is as listed:[5]

Rank Insignia
Colonel (1)
US-O6 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Colonel (5)
US-O5 insignia.svg
Major (14)
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain (32)
US-O3 insignia.svg
Lieutenant (191)
Sergeant (341)
Massacusetts State Police Sergeant Stripes.png
Trooper First Class
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Trooper (1,608)
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Boot Trooper
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State Police Trainee
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The rank of Trooper First Class is automatically awarded after 5 years of service at the rank of Trooper. Promotion to the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain are based on varying combinations of years of service, promotional exam score, and/or performance on oral examination boards. The ranks of Detective Lieutenant and Detective Captain are appointed; an individual must already have attained the rank of Lieutenant prior to being appointed to the rank of Detective Lieutenant and must have attained the rank of Captain prior to being appointed to the rank of Detective Captain. The rank of Major and Lieutenant Colonel are appointed by the Colonel / Superintendent. The Deputy Superintendent holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The Colonel / Superintendent is appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth.

Prior rank structure

Rank structure prior to 1991:

  • Colonel / Superintendent
  • Lieutenant Colonel / Deputy Superintendent
  • Major
  • Captain
  • Lieutenant
  • Staff Sergeant
  • Sergeant
  • Corporal
  • Trooper
  • Probationary Trooper
  • Recruit Officer

The rank of Corporal existed until 1993.


  • Superintendent of the State Police
    • Field Services Division
    • Investigative Services Division
    • Administrative Services Division
    • Standards and Training Division
    • State Police Academy
    • Forensic Services Group

Field Services - State Police Stations/Patrol Units

Troop A

Troop "A" includes the northeastern section of the commonwealth. The A Troop headquarters are located in Danvers, and there are 70 municipalities located within Troop A.

Troop A Barracks are located in:

Troop B

Troop "B" includes the western section of the commonwealth. The B Troop headquarters are in Northampton. Troop B has primary law enforcement responsibilities in many municipalities that lack local police departments in Western Massachusetts.

Troop B Barracks are located in:

Troop C

Troop "C" includes the central section of the commonwealth. It is the largest of the troops, and the C Troop headquarters are located in Holden. Also, 85 cities or towns rely on C Troop to assist with law enforcement or provide primary coverage. Troop C Barracks C8, Located in New Braintree, has no operational Troopers, but is the New Braintree Emergency Dispatch Center, which is the PSAP (Public Safety Access Point) for Police, Fire and Emergency Medical services for the towns of New Braintree, Hardwick, Petersham, West Brookfield, North Brookfield, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Brimfield, Holland and Wales. It is co-located with the State Police Academy.

Troop C Barracks are located in:

Troop D

Troop "D" includes the southeastern section of the commonwealth. The D Troop headquarters are located in Middleborough, and the Troop also includes Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

Troop D Barracks are located in:

Troop E

Troop "E" is unique in that it does not encompass a section of the commonwealth, but is responsible for the Massachusetts Turnpike, which stretches from Boston to the New York border. E Troop headquarters are located in Boston. E troop also patrols Interstate 93 North and South from the Tip O'Neill Tunnel over the Zakim Bridge to Rutherford Avenue.

Troop E Barracks are located in:

Troop F

Troop "F" patrols and provides law enforcement and security for all properties of the Massachusetts Port Authority including Boston's Tobin Bridge, Logan International Airport, the Boston Shore Line, and the World Trade Center, located in Boston as well. Until 2010 its only barracks was located within the airport but has since moved to a building on the outskirts allowing for more space, parking, and better access to the property.

Troop F Barracks is located in:

Troop H

Troop "H" includes the metropolitan Boston area. This troop extends southeast to the Rhode Island border and west to the A Troop border in Waltham. Troop H headquarters are located in South Boston

Troop H Barracks are located in:

Community Action Teams

The State Police CAT teams are unique units. The purpose of the CAT teams is to augment A, B, C, D, and H troop barracks with extra patrols to be used for various duties. They are a combination of an anti-crime unit and a motor vehicle enforcement unit, with a tremendous amount of freedom. The units are not part of any troop barracks, but rather elite units out of A, B, C, D, and H troop headquarters . The units do not take any mandatory calls, but rather responds to calls using discretion. Duties include routine patrol of high crime areas in inner cities, routine patrol of major highways, major traffic enforcement, routine plain-clothes foot or vehicle patrol, bicycle patrol, undercover missions with local police departments, and major traffic accident response. CAT troopers are also responsible for dignitary escorts, funeral prisoner escorts, attending community meetings, business seizures, school programs, static vehicle displays at community events, security at high-risk trials, security at parades, and many other various special missions. Also, during winter storms when roads are hazardous, CAT troopers perform normal barracks patrols in order to assist various troop barracks.

Field Services - Special Projects Team

Team utilizing Counter-insurgency (COIN) methodology to detect, disrupt, degrade and dismantle gang activity in areas of the western Massachusetts city of Springfield. The team is utilizing a method termed "Counter Criminal Continuum Policing" or C3 Policing.

Field Services - Traffic Operations

Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section (C.A.R.S.)

This section provides reconstruction services to local and state police agencies for collisions involving fatalities or serious bodily injuries. Collision reconstruction specialists are said to be available 24 hours a day 365 days a year with no charge to the requesting agency.The section responds to calls for assistance in the investigation of fatal or serious bodily injury collisions. C.A.R.S. conducts "at scene" investigations, measuring the scene using the Topcon Total Station, photogrammetry, or graduated tapes. The collision vehicles are examined for mechanical defects and the damage is documented. Data stored by the Event Data Recorder (EDR) is secured and analyzed, as each member is a Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) Technician and Analyst. Mathematical analysis of the data is performed when necessary. Scale diagrams and plates are produced as required, and a detailed reconstruction report is written. Expert testimony is provided by members in both civil and criminal actions. The section also provides detailed, scale mapping of large outdoor crime scenes, and assists agencies with routine mathematical analysis or vehicle examinations.The section is composed of seven sergeants and seventeen troopers, all of whom are active collision reconstructionists. The members of the section are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR), or are currently pursuing accreditation. The members also maintain memberships in many professional associations, such as the National Association of Professional Accident Reconstruction Specialists (NAPARS). The members, on average, handle approximately 30 cases each per year. They are further required to attain at least 40 hours of additional education/training per year.

Motor Vehicle Regulatory Section

  • Commercial Drivers Licensing Unit - This unit is the primary licensing authority for commercial driver licenses in the Commonwealth.
  • Compliance Unit - This unit is responsible for a variety of law enforcement duties focusing on investigations of license fraud, and identity theft.
  • Salvage Title Unit - This unit conducts salvage inspections, and assigns Mass Vehicle Identification Numbers.
  • Special Assignment Unit - This unit provides a law enforcement presence at the registry of motor vehicles.
  • Vehicle Services Unit - This unit is very diverse. Its duties and responsibilities include school bus inspections, and investigations on commercial establishments.

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section (C.V.E.S.)

Also called the "Truck Team," this unit has many duties and responsibilities. These duties include: Roadside inspection of commercial vehicles, insuring the safety of hazardous substances in transport, operating weigh stations, local commercial vehicle enforcement, investigating commercial vehicle crashes, investigations, and operating the regional commercial vehicle academy.

Field Services - Tactical Operations

Air Wing Section

This is the State Police helicopter unit. The State Police Air Wing has provided the Commonwealth and its network of first responders with airborne support for over three decades. It has a fleet of six turbine helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft. It is the largest and most comprehensive full time public safety aviation unit in New England. Aircrews stand ready to respond from three strategically located Air Bases within the state 365 days a year. Currently, the unit consists of over 30 pilots and tactical flight officers.

Special Tactics and Operations

The STOP team serves as the State Police SWAT squad. This unit was created in 1971 and responds to major incidents, hostage situations, dangerous search warrants, arrest warrants, and any other serious events.

Special Emergency Response Team

Marine section boats docked in Boston

The SERT team serves as a requestable adjunct to local law enforcement agencies requesting state assistance in civil disturbances, special events, or missing persons searches.

Marine Section

The Marine Section provides routine river and marine patrol on the Charles River, Mystic River, and in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. It also provides a state wide response facility, using road transportable vessels.[6]

Motorcycle Unit

The motorcycle unit is responsible for dignitary escorts, funeral escorts, prisoner escorts, and many other types of special missions. The Motorcycle Unit is one of the most desirable units in the state police.[citation needed]

Mobile Field Force

The Mobile Field Force is a fairly new unit composed of Troopers from various barracks and special units. Its purpose is rapid deployment to civilian protests and other major incidents. In October 2007 while coordinating with the Boston Police Department, the unit played a large role in responding to riots in Boston following the Red Sox World Series victory.

K9 Unit

The State Police K-9 unit deploys approximately 41 highly trained canines to agencies throughout New England for search and rescue, criminal apprehension, narcotics detection, crowd control, missing persons searches, cadaver recovery searches, site security, arson detection, explosive detection, and other missions. Depending on specific mission requirements, members of the canine unit would work in support of, or in conjunction with, other specialized units including the Air Wing, STOP team, Marine Unit, Dive Team, and the SERT team. Their services are available upon request, without cost to the requesting agency. The State Police uses dogs such as the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd, the Dutch Shepherd, and the Belgian Malinois. In order to become a K-9 officer one must be on the force for at least 5 years.

Mounted Unit

The State Police Mounted Unit is an elite unit in the state police. It consists of 15-25 police horses. This group of specialized police officers have been on the force for a minimum of 5 years prior to joining the Mounted Unit. The mounted unit is located at the Massachusetts State Police Headquarters located in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Investigative Services

Detective Units

The Commonwealth is divided into 11 State Police detective units that work out of various district attorneys' offices. Boston, Springfield and Worcester are the only cities in the Commonwealth that have the authority to investigate homicides. This responsibility is granted through the District Attorney's Office in each city's respective county. According to Massachusetts General Law, all homicides are under the control of the District Attorney in the county they occur. Only the District Attorney can delegate the responsibility of investigating homicides to another party. In Springfield and Worcester, it is the Captain in charge of the Detective Bureau and in Boston, it is the Commander of the Homicide Unit. The various district attorneys' offices investigate all other homicides in any other cities or towns. The detective units also investigate many other major crimes and serious incidents.

  • Berkshire State Police Detective Unit
  • Bristol State Police Detective Unit
  • Cape & Islands State Police Detective Unit
  • Essex State Police Detective Unit
  • Franklin/Hampshire State Police Detective Unit
  • Hampden State Police Detective Unit
  • Middlesex State Police Detective Unit
  • Norfolk State Police Detective Unit
  • Plymouth State Police Detective Unit
  • Suffolk State Police Detective Unit
  • Worcester State Police Detective Unit

Attorney General's Office

The detective unit in the Attorney General's office is composed of the drug unit, the computer crimes unit, and various other specialized investigative squads. The unit investigates everything from white collar crime to drug distribution.

Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section

The VFAS is tasked with apprehending the commonwealth's most violent and elusive fugitives. The unit works with various local and federal agencies and is part of numerous task forces.

Gang Unit

The Gang Unit is a statewide specialty unit established to: suppress criminal gang activity, investigate gang related crimes, and gather intelligence on known and suspected gang members. Gang Unit duties include street-level narcotics enforcement, weapons enforcement, criminal investigation, and special operations. The Gang Unit assists local cities and towns by conducting undercover narcotics operations and by providing additional officers to patrols dedicated to combating gang activity in high crime areas. In addition to these activities, the Gang Unit also provides local police departments with personnel, intelligence, expertise, and training specific to battling gang-related crime. The Gang Unit maintains partnerships with, and provides gang awareness training to: schools, corporations, social service agencies, probation officers, trial courts, District Attorneys' offices, and civilian groups. The Gang Unit's primary objective is to improve the quality of life of all citizens adversely affected by gang activity.

Governor's Auto Theft Strike Force

The State Police Auto Theft unit is equipped with extremely stealthy vehicles which are outfitted with the latest laptop computers, LPR (Licence Plate Recognition) systems, and LoJack systems. The unit's main task is investigating motor vehicle theft and chop shops, and performs a large amount of surveillance.

Fire and Explosion Investigation Section

Specially trained Massachusetts State Police detectives have functioned as State Fire Marshal investigators for more than fifty years. At present, the Fire & Explosion Investigative Section (F&EIS) consists of thirty-eight full time members who make up the Fire Investigations and Hazardous Devices (Bomb Squad) units. F&EIS also consists of eight bomb techs, five bomb dogs and five accelerant detector dogs. Each unit has its own self-contained command and control structure and a specific jurisdiction to serve. Many of the investigators have been cross-trained to assist the other sections in time of need.

Crime Lab

The main Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab is located in Sudbury. There are several laboratory substations spread throughout the Commonwealth The lab serves law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys throughout the Commonwealth, providing a wide array of support to facilitate effective investigations and criminal prosecutions. The Crime Lab examines evidence that can be used to help tie criminals to their crimes, victims to their assailants and exonerate innocent suspects. The Ballistics Section and Crime Scene Services Section are served by sworn personnel.

The Lab is broken up into sections and units:

  • Arson & Explosives Unit
  • Ballistics Section
  • CODIS Unit
  • Criminalistics Section
  • Crime Scene Services Section
  • Digital Evidence & Multimedia Section (DEMS)
  • DNA Unit
  • Drug Unit
  • Evidence Control Unit
  • Identification Section
  • Office of Alcohol Testing
  • Toxicology Unit
  • Trace Analysis Unit


As of June 2000, the Massachusetts State Police had the following demographics:[7]

  • Male: 91%
  • Female: 9%
  • White: 89%
  • African-American/Black: 11%

The MSP is one of the few State Police Departments in the US where the percentage of African American officers (11%) is significantly greater than that of the state population (6.97%).

In popular culture

  • Matt Damon plays a corrupt trooper who infiltrates the MSP for the Mob in The Departed (2006). Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Leonardo DiCaprio all portray troopers in the S.I.U. as well (DiCaprio as an undercover). Director Martin Scorsese asked the MSP if he could use actual logos, badges, and color schemes on the uniforms and the cruisers, but was denied.
  • Ben Benson's series of novels featuring Massachusetts State Troopers such as high ranking Chief of Detectives Wade Paris and rookie Trooper Ralph Lindsey, appearing mostly in the 1950s, were among the earliest examples of police procedurals.
  • The agency serves as a partial-setting for Dennis Lehane's novel Mystic River and its film version, in which the characters played by Kevin Bacon and Laurence Fishburne are MSP detectives.
  • The Robert B. Parker character Spenser is said to have been with the MSP, specifically as a detective with the Suffolk County District Attorney's office. He frequently interacts with an MSP homicide detective named Captain Healy (who also appears in the Jesse Stone novels) and worked with an MSP trooper named Brian Lundquist in the novel Pale Kings and Princes.
  • An MSP cruiser comes to a halt at the Wordloaf Conference in The Simpsons episode "Moe'N'a Lisa", having pursued the Simpsons into Vermont Minute 11:50 in the episode.
  • Norman Rockwell's famous painting "The Runaway" depicts a Massachusetts State Trooper and a young boy at a lunch counter. Rockwell lived in Massachusetts for much of his life. Actual MSP Trooper Dick Clemens is the Trooper portrayed in the painting. The boys name is Edward Locke. [8]
  • In Edge of Darkness Ray Winstone's character is killed by a Massachusetts State Trooper.

See also

Portal icon Massachusetts portal
Portal icon Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics portal


  • French and Electric Blue: The Massachusetts State Police, A History, William F. Powers, 1979, Printed by Sullivan Bros., Printers, Lowell, Massachusetts
  • Enforcement Odyssey, Massachusetts State Police. A new Commemorative History of One of the Nations Premiere State Law Enforcement Agencies by: William F. Powers(c), 1998. Turner Publishing Company, 412 Broadway, P.O. Box 3101, Paducah, Kentucky 41002-3101. Library of Congress Catalog No. 97-61567, ISBN 1-56311-388-0.


External links

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