Pennsylvania State Police

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Pennsylvania State Police
AbbreviationPSP
Pennsylvania State Police.png
Patch of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Agency overview
FormedMay 2, 1905
Preceding agencies
  • State Police (1905–1937)
    State Highway Patrol (1923–1937)
  • Pennsylvania Motor Police (1937–1943)
Superseding agency[1]
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, USA
PA - State Police Troops.png
Pennsylvania State Police Troops
Size46,055
Population12,432,792 (2007 est.)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersHarrisburg, Pennsylvania
Troopers4,677 (as of 2011) [3]
Civilians1,600 (as of 2011) [3]
Agency executiveColonel Frank Noonan, Commissioner
Areas3
Troops16
Facilities
Stations90
Helicopters7 Bell Jet Rangers
Airplanes5 "High Wings"
Website
Pennsylvania State Police website
Footnotes
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.
 
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Pennsylvania State Police
AbbreviationPSP
Pennsylvania State Police.png
Patch of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Agency overview
FormedMay 2, 1905
Preceding agencies
  • State Police (1905–1937)
    State Highway Patrol (1923–1937)
  • Pennsylvania Motor Police (1937–1943)
Superseding agency[1]
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, USA
PA - State Police Troops.png
Pennsylvania State Police Troops
Size46,055
Population12,432,792 (2007 est.)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersHarrisburg, Pennsylvania
Troopers4,677 (as of 2011) [3]
Civilians1,600 (as of 2011) [3]
Agency executiveColonel Frank Noonan, Commissioner
Areas3
Troops16
Facilities
Stations90
Helicopters7 Bell Jet Rangers
Airplanes5 "High Wings"
Website
Pennsylvania State Police website
Footnotes
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is the state police force of Pennsylvania, responsible for statewide law enforcement. It was founded in 1905 by order of Governor Samuel Pennypacker, in response to the private police forces used by mine and mill owners to stop worker strikes (the Coal and Iron Police) and the inability or refusal of local police or sheriffs offices to enforce the law. PSP enlisted members are referred to as "troopers". As of 2011, it has 4,677 state troopers and more than 1,600 civilian support staff. The state police academy is located in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The current commissioner is Colonel Frank Noonan, who replaced Frank Pawlowski.

Duties[edit]

The PSP's duties include patrolling all state and federal highways across Pennsylvania, enforcing the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, overseeing the state's automobile inspection program, enforcing the state's commercial vehicle safety regulations, and providing the full range of police protection for municipalities without full-time local police departments. The PSP patrols more than half of the state's 2,565 municipalities and the bulk of its rural areas, as the sheriffs in Pennsylvania are restricted by tradition to performing court services.

The PSP provides primary service for 27% of the Commonwealth's population, accounting for over 60% of the Commonwealth municipalities.

This constitutes 85% of the Commonwealth's land area and 66% of the Commonwealth's highways. This is accomplished with only 19% of the police officers in the Commonwealth.[4][5]

The PSP's Bureau of Forensic Services provides crime lab services for criminal investigations. A special unit of the PSP act as bodyguards for the Governor of Pennsylvania and certain other state officials. The PSP also temporarily patrolled the state's 28 airports and five nuclear power plants in the months following the 9/11 attacks. However, the PSP still conducts security checks of all of the Delaware River Bridges along the PA/NJ border, in agreement with the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

The PSP administers the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), which is responsible for providing background checks in firearms purchases statewide. The PSP are embroiled in a controversy concerning the maintaining of a firearms "registry" contrary to both Federal and State laws[who?]. The issue is being addressed in the courts and the legislature.[citation needed]

The PSP also administers the PATCH (Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History) background-check database and the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting System.

The Call of Honor[edit]

All enlisted members of the Pennsylvania State Police are required to memorize the Pennsylvania State Police Call of Honor as listed below:

I am a Pennsylvania State Trooper, a soldier of the law.

To me is entrusted the honor of the force

I must serve honestly, faithfully, and if need be, lay down my life as others have done before me, rather than swerve from the path of duty.

It is my duty to obey the law and to enforce it without any consideration of class, color, creed or condition.

It is also my duty to be of service to anyone who may be in danger or distress, and at all times so conduct myself that the honor of the force may be upheld.

Camp Cadet[edit]

Camp Cadet is a summer camp for Pennsylvania's boys and girls between the ages of 12 to 15 who are interested in law enforcement. The camp is held at various locations throughout the State and staffed by Troopers, local police officers and many other volunteers. The goal of Camp Cadet is to introduce participants to the diverse criminal justice system and establish a positive relationship with law enforcement personnel.[6] Camp Cadet is solely funded through voluntary contributions and fund raisers. The PSP does not pay for this, but there is a fee for cadets.

Uniform and Rank Structure[edit]

The uniform worn by PSP troopers is unique within Pennsylvania. In January 1988, the State Police changed the color of its uniforms. PSP troopers wore dark grey uniforms that confused them with some municipal police departments and Pennsylvania State Constables. By state law, no municipal (city, borough, or township) police department can wear the same exact uniform or color configuration as that of the PSP.

Uniform – troopers to sergeants[edit]

The current PSP uniform for troopers, corporals, and sergeants consist of a light gray uniform shirt with black shoulder epaulets. The PSP shoulder patch is worn on both sleeves of all uniform items. The PSP members are issued long sleeve shirts for the winter and short sleeve shirts for summer. However, PSP requires the black necktie to be worn year round. The uniform shirt consist of the trooper's nameplate over the right pocket and any awards the trooper has earned over the left pocket. PSP is 1 of only 5 state police forces that do not wear a badge on the uniform shirt. The original PSP uniform was molded from the Constabulary forces in Europe and they did not have badges. It is history and tradition for troopers today to carry their badges in a wallet along with their photo ID card. The uniform trousers are a darker gray color with a 1" black stripe on the leg. PSP shoes and/or boots are also black in color.

The PSP duty belt is Gould & Goodrich plain black leather. The duty holster is the level-2 model. The ammo pouch and handcuff case have hidden snap closure. The OC pepper spray and ASP baton holders are open top. The duty belt is held together with the trousers belt using 4 silver snap belt keepers.

The PSP trademark item is the campaign style hat with the chin strap worn in the front under the chin on the winter campaign hat(as opposed to most agencies that wear the strap of the campaign hat behind the head). The hat contains a blackened commonwealth coat of arms. It is required to be worn whenever the trooper is outdoors. It is made of dark gray felt (for wintertime wear) or light gray straw (for summertime wear) The strap of the summer hat is worn behind the head.

Also, as an optional part of the winter uniform, troopers may wear a black "woolly-pully" commando sweater over their uniform shirts, along with a vinyl/fur winter hat.

The Class "A" Ceremonial Unit troopers wear a "full dress" uniform which is a charcoal gray military-style dress coat with black buttons. It is worn with matching charcoal gray military-style riding breeches and black high-rider leather boots. The duty belt is worn with the shoulder strap. This uniform is modeled after the original PSP history uniform.

Uniform – lieutenants to colonels[edit]

The uniforms for PSP Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, Lieutenant Colonels, and the Colonel are identical to that of the lower ranks, except for the following:

In addition to the minor detail changes, senior officers wear the four-button military coat for "Class A" functions. The coat has four gold-colored buttons, breast and hip pockets, and shoulder epaulets for the placement of the officer's current rank. A white shirt is worn with a black tie underneath. A system of "rank rings" are worn on each sleeve, similar to the rank-ring system used by the U.S. Navy, United States Coast Guard, and by land units of the Canadian Forces. Currently, the insignia worn by PSP senior officers are as follows:

Ranks, insignia, and descriptions[edit]

TitleInsigniaAdditional Information
Colonel
US-O6 insignia.svg
Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police
Lieutenant Colonel
US-O5 insignia.svg
Second in Command of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Major
US-O4 insignia.svg
Commander of an Area, such as Area III, encompassing several Troops.
Captain
US-O3 insignia.svg
Troop Commander, such as Troop B, encompassing several Stations.
Lieutenant
US-O2 insignia.svg
Station Commander, such as Station 1 (located in Troop B of Area III)
Sergeant
PSP - Sergeant.jpg
Station Commander, Supervisor of a unit, section, or specialty position.
Corporal
PSP - Corporal.jpg
Supervisor of Troopers, oversee the patrol's daily calls for service.
Trooper First Class
PSP - Trooper 1C.jpg
This is a longevity promotion for Troopers with 12 years of service.
Trooper
Blank.jpg
Upon graduation from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, cadets are promoted to the rank of Trooper.
State Police Cadet
Blank.jpg
A Commonwealth employee who is enrolled in but has not yet graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.

Facilities[edit]

The PSP owns and operates a myriad of facilities to conduct law enforcement across the Commonwealth. The following is the breakdown.

Troops[edit]

(*) - The Pennsylvania State Police currently provide highway patrol services within Philadelphia County; the Troop K Headquarters is located on Belmont Avenue near Fairmount Park in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Police Department Highway Patrol recently transferred patrol of interstate highways over to the Pennsylvania State Police in early 2008.

Barracks listing by county[edit]

PSP bureaus and offices[edit]

The PSP also has many bureaus and subdivisions within the organization.[8] This is by no means a complete list, merely a sampling of the breakdown.

Dispatching facilities[9][edit]

The Pennsylvania State Police was in the process of consolidating dispatch functions from the individual stations to one of five "Consolidated Dispatch Centers" (CDC). However, as of July 30, 2012 The Pennsylvania State Police has disbanded the CDCs and moved the dispatching operations back to the individual stations. Only two CDCs were operational - Harrisburg and Norristown. The stated reason for closing the operations at the CDCs, according to previous statements made by State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan before the Senate budget hearings, was to put more Troopers back on the street. It is mandated that all PSP stations be manned on site 24/7 for emergencies and a point of refuge for people in distress. This became a problem when dispatchers, PCO'S (Police Communication Operators), were moved to CDC'S and the position of "Greeters" was creates adding additional costs and manpower issues. When Greeters were unavailable Trooper's were assigned this task. Even non CDC stations also had a shortage of PCO'S, in part caused by the number of PCO'S required for minimum staffing at a CDC, causing Troopers to regularly work as dispatchers at these stations.

Harrisburg[edit]

The Harrisburg CDC went operational in June 2004. It covered the Carlisle, Harrisburg, and Lykens stations in Troop H and the Ephrata and Lancaster stations in Troop J. With the assumption of responsibility for the areas previously covered by the Philadelphia Highway Patrol, the Harrisburg CDC also covered the Reading and Hamburg stations from Troop L. The Harrisburg CDC would have become the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for all PSP stations in Troops H, J, and L.

Norristown[edit]

The Norristown CDC went operational in November 2004. It covered the Philadelphia and Skippack stations in Troop K. The Norristown CDC would have become the PSAP for all PSP stations in Troops K, and M.

Other CDCs[edit]

The remaining three CDCs were to be located in Greensburg, Clarion, and Pittston. The Greensburg CDC would have covered Troops A, B, and G; the Clarion CDC would have covered Troops C, D, and E; the Pittston CDC would have covered Troops F, N, P, and R. Troop T stations are dispatched by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission at its Highspire headquarters.

Demographics[edit]

Vehicles[edit]

A Ford Expedition used by the Pennsylvania State Police.

The department currently operates a mixed fleet of Ford Crown Victorias, Chevrolet Impalas, Jeep Cherokees[disambiguation needed], Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford Expeditions, Dodge Chargers, Dodge Magnums, and Chevrolet vans. Recently, the PSP has also introduced the new law enforcement specific Ford Police Interceptor sedan and SUV. The PSP also owns and operates numerous helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, some of which are currently for sale .[10] Current plans are underway to purchase and operate some sort of watercraft for the Delaware River in the Philadelphia area.

Aviation[edit]

The PSP Aviation Section consists of thirty-five trooper pilots and three full-time mechanics, using eight helicopters and six airplanes state-wide. These aircraft are stationed in seven Aviation Patrol Units (APU) whose missions including, but not limited to: conducting searches and rescues; assisting in vehicle pursuits; conducting criminal surveillances; participating in marijuana eradication efforts; crime and traffic incident scene photography; transports; conducting Emergency Management and Homeland Security missions providing an aerial platform for incident command and control; and attending events promoting law enforcement efforts. The Aviation Section also provides air support to all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies within Pennsylvania and assists during non-emergency situations such as major civic and sporting events.

Weapons[edit]

The department recently adopted the Glock Model 21 Gen 4 semi automatic pistol chambered in .45 Auto as their service pistol. Other firearms include the AR-15, 12-gauge shotguns (including the Remington 870 pump and 1187 semi auto), and gas grenade launcher.[11]

The current less-lethal weapons the PSP is utilizing consists of Taser technology,[12] Pepper spray (OC) and expandable ASP straight baton.

Accreditation[edit]

The Pennsylvania State Police is the largest internationally accredited law enforcement agency in the world. This distinction was awarded to the Pennsylvania State Police on July 31, 1993, by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), an independent, non-profit organization based in Fairfax, Virginia.

Accreditation is a process utilized by professional law enforcement agencies to facilitate the creation, verification and maintenance of high quality policies and procedures, via voluntary compliance with a body of performance standards. CALEA's 446 standards address nine major law enforcement topics: role, responsibilities, and relationships with other agencies; organization, management, and administration; personnel structure; personnel process; operations; operational support; traffic operations; prisoner and court-related services; and, auxiliary and technical services.[13]

Superintendents and Commissioners since 1905[edit]

NameDate[14]
Groome, John C. 19051905
Adams, Lynn G.1920
Foote, Percy W.1937
Adams, Lynn G.1939
Wilhelm, Cecil M.1943
Henry, E.J.1955
McCartney, Frank G.1959
Purdy, E. Wilson1963
Rittelman, Paul A.1966
McKetta, Frank1967
Urella, Rocco1971
Barger, James1973
Chylak, Paul1977
Dunn, Daniel1979
Laffey, Cyril1984
Dellarciprete, Nicholas1984
Schafer, John K.1985
Sharpe, Ronald1987
Walp, Glenn1991
Evanko, Paul1996
Miller, Jeffrey B.2003
Pawlowski, Frank2008
Noonan, Frank2011


Traditions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]


External links[edit]