New York Troopers - History
Preserving the Past for Those Who Follow





Until 1931, the only source of communicating with troopers was by word of mouth, mail or telephone. 


The first communication improvement in the State Police occurred on September 15, 1931 when the first tele-type system was placed into use. The system was perfected & improved upon through the years becoming one of the most efficient and expedient ways to relay information.

1945 – Automatic sending and receiving teletype equipment was installed.

1953 - An announcement would report that a 14 state alarm was dispatched after a serious crime was committed. This was accomplished through the New York State Police communication system. The communication system at the Batavia Barracks supervised by Technical Sergeant John M. Long was the central point for the dissemination of alarms for Western New York. As an example, Buffalo Police would send a teletype message requesting a 14 state alarm to Batavia. It was immediately forwarded to Oneida and Albany. From Albany, the message was sent to all New York State police departments, barracks and stations equipped with a teletype machine. It was also sent to law enforcement agencies in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, North Carolina and Washington D.C. In addition to the teletype, Troop A was in direct communications by radio with all substations and trooper cars in the troop area. It is also connected with a statewide system with Albany the focal point for making the connections. Troop “A” also monitored short wave radio communications of the Rochester & Buffalo Police Departments and sheriff’s departments in the 11 county area.

1955 – The National Police Teletypewriter Network was activated on December 25, 1955 opening direct communications between New York and 34 other states. It was anticipated that the system would put to rest jurisdictional problems and afford a written record of warrant requests from one agency to another. The speed of the system would also offset the advantage of escaping criminals from one jurisdiction to another.

1955 – The National Police Teletypewriter Network was activated on December 25, 1955 opening direct communications between New York and 34 other states. It was anticipated that the system would put to rest jurisdictional problems and afford a written record of warrant requests from one agency to another. The speed of the system would also offset the advantage of escaping criminals from one jurisdiction to another.

1960 – The teletype system was expanded with the addition of 17 states, 39 municipalities and 11 sheriff’s offices.


1931- The first state police automobile to carry a short wave radio for official police communications was installed in a patrol car at the Avon Precinct under the command of Lieutenant Gerald D. Vaine. The car was used to patrol the area around Rochester, New York getting its news flashes of crime news from broadcasting equipment at the Rochester, New York Police Department.

On January 15, 1932, Albany, New York Radio Station “WOKO”, through the courtesy of General Manager Harold Smith, provided ten minutes time daily except Sunday for the state police to broadcast information regarding crimes and messages of general interest to the public. Many instances were documented where these broadcasts helped in the apprehension of offenders, locating of missing persons and property and updating of new laws and safety equipment. This resulted in an attitude of co-operation and assistance by the public with police.

On September 21, 1933, a transmitter built by the General Electric Company of Schenectady, N.Y. was put into service providing radio communications to the eleven counties policed by Troop “G”. Twelve patrol cars and twenty fixed stations were equipped with radio receivers.

Designated “WPGC”, the transmitter was a 5-kilowatt unit all ac operated, located in South Schenectady, N.Y., RCA Transmitting Radiotrons were used throughout the equipment. It was crystal controlled using a quartz crystal ground to the operating frequency of 1534 kilocycles. General Electric Company maintained a 24-hour a day licensed operator with operation remotely controlled from State Police Headquarters at Albany, N.Y.

In addition to the Troop “G” radio cars, five trooper cars in Erie County were radio equipped operating from the Buffalo Police Department Station “WMJ” and three radio cars in Monroe County were radio equipped operating from the Rochester Police Department’s Station “WPDR”.

It was noted in the 1936 annual report that the Trooper Radio Station “WPGC” was operating at 1658 kilocycles and Trooper J. Fred Johns was designated chief operator, later assisted by Corporal John J. Smith.

In 1939, WYSQ, the New York State Police Portable Emergency Transmitter operating at 1658 Kilocycles was first put in use at the First Army maneuvers at Camp Pine (now Camp Drum) near Watertown, New York during August 1939. The transmitter was installed in a twenty-four foot long house type trailer. It was a completely self-contained mobile command post with all communication features capable of accommodating four people for a considerable period of time. The forward half was utilized as living quarters with a convertible couch folding into a bed. There were folding tables attached to the walls, a small kitchenette with a sink, a two-burner Coleman gasoline plate and small ice chest. A kerosene pot-stove with blower provided heat, a 10 gallon water tank with hand pump for water and various drawers and cupboards completed the quarters.

The rear section included radio, telephone and teletype communications operating in a short square “U” position supported by steel drawers and file cabinets. A large trunk in the rear contained a gasoline driven motor generator capable of supplying all equipment and lights. A heavy-duty truck equipped with extra materials and tools for repairs hauled the trailer. Storage lockers along the sides could be used as seats to accommodate fifteen men for transport. The truck was equipped with overdrive and had a top speed of 50 miles per hour.

During 1941, radio continued to play an important role in communications. Instant contact with the mobile units provided almost instant response to incidents and emergencies. Station WPGC continued in use with transmitter and maintenance provided by the GE Company. Local radio station WOKO continued to provide 10 minutes free time nightly for the transmission of information of general interest to the public. The success of the radio resulted in the installation of transmitting towers throughout the state. The experimentation of the two-way radio was initiated with the construction of eight link 50-watt automobile transmitters. During 1942, a complete two-way radio system on ultra high frequency was completed and placed in service for thirty-seven trooper units on Long Island. Each unit had an effective range of 25 miles.

1943 - A site near the Attica State Prison was selected to install a new state police, 300-foot tall radio-transmitting tower. Extensive tests showed this to be the best-suited area to service stations and patrol cars in the 11 Counties of  Western New York.

1944 - One-way radio communications were first installed in 1933 at Troop G Headquarters, but it took until 1944 for this advancement to reach Troop “A”. The installation of radio station WBTC operating on a frequency of 1658 kilocycles at the Batavia State Police Barracks completed the network. The addition of 1000-watt radio transmitters at Troops A, D and C Headquarters completed coverage of the state by short wave radio. Fourteen division members attended a four month long communications school and were licensed as second-class radio operators by the Federal Communications Commission. The tele-type system was also improved with the installation of automatic sending and receiving teletype machines at the central control point, Division Headquarters. Teletype points were added at the Glens Falls Police Department and Henrietta State Police substation. There were now 110 teletypewriter points and 145 teletypewriter instruments within in the state.  

Sergeant Charles Z. McDonald was in charge of the Batavia Communications Section with everyone at troop headquarters having a Class 2 radio operator’s license required to transmit on the system. Three secretaries working at the barracks also obtained radio licenses. They were Winifred Miner, Viola Schwingle and Mabel Keister. The station was manned 24 hours daily with a station announcement and time check given every half hour. Prior to the system installation, all state police cars in the area were tuned into the Buffalo Police station.

1945 - An emergency Telephone Service was initiated throughout the state. Telephone books all carried the legend:  In an emergency, call or dial an operator and say “ I WANT A STATE TROOPER”. The operator to the nearest State Police Station without delay or charge then completed the call.

1946 - A new radio system was installed by the New York Telephone Company. It was a three-way frequency modulated radio system that in effect, would cover every inch of the state. The initial installation cost was $735,000.00 with a yearly maintenance cost estimated at about $300,000.00. The key transmitter unit for Western New York was Batavia. Troop cars in the near vicinity could now talk to one another. There were 73 radios transmitting and receiving installed at troop headquarters, zone stations and 24-hour substations across the state. Precincts where few troopers are assigned will have radio receivers only. Two way radios were placed in the departments 382 automobiles and one motorboat used for patrol purposes. In addition, 16 sets of portable radios equipment powered by gasoline motors were provided for use at disasters or serious crimes. Forty-two military style walkie-talkies were also provided with 7 assigned to each Troop Headquarters. Two-way communications were now available between stations and patrol cars as well as emergency sites and between patrol cars. The entire communication system was changed from AM to FM with the last installation completed on August 29, 1947.

1954 - Two way radios were installed in all motorcycles.

1961 – At the end of the year, the division had 2 boats, 20 motorcycles and 715 cars equipped with radios.

1965 - Walkie-talkie field unit radios weighing 15 pounds were replaced. In May 1965, a new General Electric Handi-Talkie radio was distributed to the various troops. The unit weighed less than 4 pounds with a usable field battery life of up to 80- hours between charges. They were weatherproof, had a leather carrying case with a shoulder strap or belt hooks, and had external speakers with batteries chargeable on a 110-volt current. Range was from 3 to 5 miles. 

1966 – The New York State Police were chosen by the FBI to be the states link to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). 

1970 – A high band radio system was initiated to alleviated interference problems. Hand held radios were used for the first time making it possible to communicate while away from the vehicle.

1976 – A statewide channel was added to the radio system making it possible to have inter-troop communication.