The Maine State Police will mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month by outfitting troopers’ cruisers with pink-and-white license plates that read “early detection saves lives.”

The effort to promote awareness about the disease and the importance of early detection is due to begin Tuesday.

Col. Robert Williams, chief of the state police, and Sgt. Michael Edes, president of the Maine State Troopers Association, unveiled the plates at a news conference Monday in Augusta.

“When the association approached me with what they had in mind, I could not have agreed more,” Williams said, flanked by five breast cancer survivors who work for or are related to members of the state police.

“Whether it’s one of our friends, a family member, a co-worker or a member of the public we serve, almost every one of us knows at least one or more persons that has been struck by this terrible disease,” Edes said in a letter to troopers announcing the effort.

The plates are being purchased by the Troopers Foundation, the association’s charity, so no public money was used, a police spokesman said.

At the end of this month, each trooper will keep one of the plates from the cruiser, and the others – about 300 – will be donated to the Maine Cancer Foundation, which will auction them off as a fundraiser.

Edes said he started pursuing the idea a year ago, after a trooper’s spouse and an emergency communications employee were diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It truly does support one of the state police’s core values: Compassion,” he said in the letter.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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Twitter: @Mainehenchman