Timothy Weber

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

History and Philosophy

First Advisor

JoEllen Vinyard

Second Advisor

Ronald Delph


The Michigan State Police were first organized to protect the state’s infrastructure and quell labor disputes during World War I. Structured along the lines of a paramilitary organization, the State Police quickly developed a reputation for Nativism and anti-radical agendas. By the 1930s, the force had transformed into a state wide investigation and policing agency with broad support in the population and state government. Here, archival records and police publications are used to ascertain the role of Prohibition and rum running in the force’s transformation.

Examination begins with an overview of the national movement to establish state policing agencies, and its roots in nativism. The effects of prohibition in the incorporation of heavy weapons, new tactics, and technologies taking place during this period are also discussed. Most important to the State Police’s transformation was its changing public opinion, allowing it to expand in the face of labor opposition.