Ask a Trooper: Maroon uniforms have a Gopher connection

Minnesota State Patrol courtesy photo
Minnesota State Patrol (Courtesy photo)
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Editor's note: New editions of the "Ask the Trooper" column are on hiatus by the Minnesota State Patrol. Following is a previous column from the Pioneer Journal archives.

Question: Would you tell me the significance of the color maroon for the Minnesota State Patrol, please? I travel around all over and never saw another agency with this as their primary color for uniform or squad car.

Answer: The Minnesota State Patrol was created in 1929. The original trooper uniform was a long gray coat, riding boots, grey knee-high pants and eight-corner hat.

It was replaced by maroon and gold uniforms. The change was made in 1934 to honor the University of Minnesota football national championship team. (The Golden Gophers were national football champions 1904, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940, 1941 and 1960).

In 1958, the State Patrol adopted maroon as the standard car color. Prior to that most of the squad cars had been black and a few other colors.


How do officers handle people with disabilities?

Question: How and what does law enforcement do when they come across someone who is deaf or has hearing disabilities?

Answer: Minnesota's deaf and hard of hearing community helped create a two-way communication card. They provided significant input in the card's creation, identifying symbols that would be most helpful to them in communicating. The Departments of Public Safety and Human Services collaborated to produce the finished product.

A deaf or hard of hearing person can keep the two-sided, laminated card in their car and bring it out to show to law enforcement when necessary. The card features a set of icons the person can point to suggesting the best way to communicate (such as writing or lip-reading) and another set to indicate what help they need. Hospital? Tow truck? Directions? They're all there on the card.

The law enforcement officer can also use it to communicate by pointing to the icon indicating what information they need, such as a driver's license or insurance card. If the officer has pulled over the deaf or hard of hearing person, they can point to icons such as the speed limit sign or traffic light on the back of the card to explain why. There's also a section to help explain what happens next, with icons for things like warnings and tickets.

Along with the icons are helpful tips for communicating, such as, "Maintain eye contact with me while speaking" and "Shining a flashlight in my face will make it hard for me to understand you." The card ends with a list of things a deaf or hard of hearing person might need if arrested or brought in for questions, like assistive technology for phone calls and a sign language interpreter.

So although traffic stops and flat tires still happen, this communication card can make the interaction safer, easier, and more productive for law enforcement and deaf and hard of hearing people alike.

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