Q&A with Col. Matthew Langer
Chief, Minnesota State Patrol, and Winner of the 2021 AAMVA Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety—Law Enforcement award
How did you get into law enforcement?
In high school, I developed an interest in policing. I got to know a couple of local police officers, and through my family, I was connected with a state trooper who took me on a ride-along. I was really drawn to the work of the state patrol and to the work of traffic safety—in particular, crash reconstruction. I got involved with the Minnesota State Patrol Explorer Post [student program], and then was fortunate enough to get hired with the state patrol.
What is the most memorable traffic safety initiative that you’ve worked on?
The most memorable traffic safety initiative I worked on was the passage of Minnesota’s hands-free law in 2019. I was deeply involved in that. It was an honor to work alongside a bipartisan group of lawmakers, to have the approval of our governor’s office at that time and to have support from victims’ families, who were there with us every step of the way. That was an incredible honor.
What career achievement are you most proud of?
I’ve held every rank in the organization, and being a colonel is an honor and a privilege. But my bio still says I’ve been a state trooper for 22 years, and that quite honestly is one of my greatest accomplishments—just being a part of this organization from the beginning of my career as a state trooper.
How are you involved with AAMVA?
I have great respect for the work that AAMVA does across the United States, North America and beyond. Although it’s not part of the state patrol, Minnesota’s Division of Driver and Vehicle Services within the Department of Public Safety works closely with AAMVA, as does our Commercial Vehicle Section within the state patrol. So, I’ve watched a lot of our people be connected directly to AAMVA and the work that it does. Having an association like that to promote best practices and serve as a resource is really helpful.
How does it feel to receive the AAMVA Lifetime Achievement award?
I was completely shocked. I didn’t know my staff had nominated me. Frankly, if they’d asked me first, I would have told them no. So, it’s very humbling. In some ways, I don’t feel like I’ve been around long enough to have a “lifetime achievement award.” But I have dedicated my professional life to traffic safety—I believe in it.