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 2006, it has 4,545 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 Pawlowski, who recently replaced Jeffrey B. Miller.

Duties

The PSP's duties include patrolling all state and federal highways across Pennsylvania, enforcing the Pennsylvania Motor 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 and unincorporated areas 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.[1][2]

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. The issue is being addressed in the courts and the legislature.

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

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.

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Camp Cadet

Camp Cadet is a summer camp for boys and girls from Pennsylvania between the ages of 12 to 15. 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.[3] Camp Cadet is solely funded through voluntary contributions and fund raisers. The PSP does not pay for this, nor is there a fee for Cadets.

This camp is not for troubled youth, rather those interested in careers in law enforcement.

Uniform and Rank Structure

The uniform worn by PSP officers is unique within Pennsylvania. Prior to its introduction in the 1990s, PSP officers wore dark grey uniforms that confused them with Pennsylvania State Constables, who wore an identical uniform. By state law, no municipal police department (city, borough, or township) police department can wear the same exact uniform or color configuration as that of the PSP, although some departments have uniforms that nearly match that of the PSP

Uniform - Troopers to Sergeants

The current PSP uniform for Troopers, Corporals, and Sergeants consist of a dark gray long or short sleeve shirt with black shoulder epaulets, and a black necktie – most municipal police departments omit the necktie for the summertime, but the PSP requires the necktie year round. Charcoal gray trousers with a black stripe on each leg is worn, with a Sam Browne belt with duty gear being worn around the waist.

The PSP trooper's trademark uniform item, the campaign hat with a blackened state coat of arms on the front, is worn whenever the trooper is outdoors, and is made of charcoal gray-colored felt (for wintertime wear) or straw (for summertime wear). A black "woolly-pully" sweater is worn optionally by members in cold weather. Ceremonial Unit Troopers wear "full dress" uniforms with a charcoal gray military-style coat closed with four black buttons and worn with charcoal riding breeches and black rider boots. Corporals and Sergeants wear their chevron insignia (identical to those worn in the U.S. Army) on both sleeves, with all troopers wearing the PSP shoulder patch on both sleeves.

Trooper First Class Rank

On July 1, 2006 a new rank of Trooper First Class, including troopers with twelve years of service or more was added. Trooper First Class wears a single chevron on each sleeve.

Uniform - Lieutenants to Colonel

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

  • A gold-colored state coat of arms on the left collar and the officer's rank on the right collar.
  • Black stripes on trousers has a gold stripe within it that widens as ranks increases.
  • "Smokey Bear" hat is replaced with a military style service cap with a gold-colored Commonwealth seal and a gold-colored strap, with Captains and above having the distinctive Scrambled Eggs (Uniform) on the visor.

Alternately, an officer may wear a "Smokey Bear" hat with a gold state coat of arms on the front, unless in class A function.

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 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:

  • Lieutenant: no service stripes
  • Captain: one service stripe
  • Major: two service stripes
  • Lt. Colonel: three service stripes
  • Colonel: four service stripes

Ranks, Insignia & Descriptions

Title Insignia Additional Information
Colonel
US-O6 insignia.svg
Chief of the PSP
Lt. Colonel
US-O5 insignia.svg
Second in command of the entire PSP. A largely administrative role. Currently 3 Lt. Colonels enlisted.
Major
US-O4 insignia.svg
Commanding officer of a whole Area, such as Area 5, encompassing multiple troops. Currently 18 Majors enlisted.
Captain
US-O3 insignia.svg
Commanding officer of a whole Troop or Bureau. Currently 40 Captains enlisted.
Lieutenant
US-OF1A.svg
Supervisors of all ranks preceding. Usually in charge of "sections" a whole troop such as crime or patrol. Currently 112 lieutenants enlisted.
Sergeant Supervisor of corporals and can be Station Commanders at this level.
Corporal Supervisor of troopers, either in patrol, criminal investigation units, staff or a specialty position.
Trooper First Class Same as Trooper. This is a longevity promotion.
Trooper
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Either in patrol, crime, staff services or a specialty function
State Police Trainee
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A graduated cadet, technically a trooper, but still in the "Coach/Pupil" training phase. However, these employees are on the road conducting full police functions
State Police Cadet
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An employee of the Commonwealth not yet graduated to Trooper status from the PSP Academy

Facilities

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

Troops

Visual Map of Commonwealth with PSP Facilities

  • Troop A, Area III - Cambria, Indiana, Somerset, Westmoreland Counties; Troop HQ - Greensburg
  • Troop B, Area III - Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington Counties; Troop HQ - Washington
  • Troop C, Area IV - Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, McKean Counties; Troop HQ - Punxsutawney
  • Troop D, Area IV - Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer Counties; Troop HQ - Butler
  • Troop E, Area IV - Crawford, Erie, Venango, Warren Counties; Troop HQ - Erie
  • Troop F, Area II - Cameron, Clinton, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union Counties; Troop HQ - Montoursville
  • Troop G, Area III - Bedford, Blair, Centre, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin Counties; Troop HQ - Hollidaysburg
  • Troop H, Area I - Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Perry, York Counties; Troop and Department HQ - Harrisburg
  • Troop J, Area I - Chester, Lancaster Counties; Troop HQ - Lancaster
  • Troop K, Area V - Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia Counties; Troop HQ - Philadelphia
  • Troop L, Area I - Berks, Lebanon, Schuylkill Counties; Troop HQ - Reading
  • Troop M, Area V - Bucks, Lehigh, Northampton Counties; Troop HQ - Bethlehem
  • Troop N, Area II - Carbon, Columbia, Lower Luzerne, Monroe Counties; Troop HQ - Hazleton
  • Troop P, Area II - Bradford, Upper Luzerne, Sullivan, Wyoming Counties; Troop HQ - Wyoming
  • Troop R, Area II - Lackawanna, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne Counties; Troop HQ - Dunmore
  • Troop T - Turnpike; Troop HQ - Penna. Turnpike Commission HQ, Highspire
  • Troop S - Disbanded. Patrolled State Highways. Troopers in this Troop migrated into the local stations.[4]

(*) - 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

County Troop Station
Adams H Gettysburg
Allegheny B Pittsburgh
Allegheny T Gibsonia
Armstrong D Kittanning
Beaver D Beaver
Bedford G Bedford
Bedford T Everett
Berks L Reading
Berks L Hamburg
Blair G Hollidaysburg
Bradford P Towanda
Bucks M Trevose
Bucks M Dublin
Butler D Butler
Cambria A Ebensburg
Cameron F Emporium
Carbon T Pocono
Carbon N Lehighton
Centre G Phillipsburg
Centre G Rockview
Chester J Avondale
Chester J Embreeville
Clarion C Clarion
Clearfield C Clearfield
Clinton F Lamar
Columbia N Bloomsburg
Crawford E Meadville
Cumberland H Carlisle
Cumberland T Newville
Dauphin T Highspire
Dauphin H Harrisburg
Dauphin H Lykens
Delaware K Media
Elk C Ridgeway
Erie E Erie
Erie E Corry
Erie E Girard
Fayette B Uniontown
Forest C Tionesta
Franklin H Chambersburg
Fulton G McConnellsburg
Greene B Waynesburg
Huntingdon G Huntingdon
Indiana A Indiana
Jefferson C DuBois
Jefferson C Punxsutawney
Lackawanna R Dunmore
Lancaster T Bowmansville
Lancaster J Ephrata
Lancaster J Lancaster
Lawrence D New Castle
Lebanon L Jonestown
Lehigh M Fogelsville
Lehigh M Bethlehem
Luzerne N Hazleton
Luzerne P Shickshinny
Luzerne P Wyoming
Lycoming F Montoursville
McKean C Kane
Mercer D Mercer
Mifflin G Lewistown
Monroe N Swiftwater
Monroe N Fern Ridge
Montgomery T King of Prussia
Montgomery K Skippack
Northampton M Belfast
Northumberland F Stonington
Northumberland F Milton
Perry H Newport
Philadelphia K Philadelphia
Pike R Blooming Grove
Potter F Coudersport
Schuylkill L Schuylkill Haven
Schuylkill L Frackville
Snyder F Selinsgrove
Somerset A Somerset
Somerset T Somerset
Sullivan P Laporte
Susquehanna R Gibson
Tioga F Mansfield
Venango E Franklin
Warren E Warren
Washington B Washington
Wayne R Honesdale
Westmoreland A Greensburg
Westmoreland B Belle Vernon
Westmoreland T New Stanton
Westmoreland A Kiski Valley
Wyoming P Tunkhannock
York H York

PSP Bureaus and Offices

The PSP also has many bureaus and subdivisions within the organization.[5] This is by no means a complete list, merely a sampling of the breakdown.

Dispatching Facilities[6]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania State Police is in the process of consolidating dispatch functions from the individual stations to one of five "Consolidated Dispatch Centers" (CDC). At present, two CDCs are operational - Harrisburg and Norristown. These centers use the digital 800Mhz frequency, as opposed to the older, more common VHF frequencies at substations.

Harrisburg

The Harrisburg CDC went operational in June 2004. At the present time, Harrisburg CDC covers 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 covers the Reading and Hamburg stations from Troop L. The Harrisburg CDC will become the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for all PSP stations in Troops G, H, and J.

Norristown

The Norristown CDC went operational in December 2004. At the present time, Norristown CDC covers the Philadelphia and Skippack stations in Troop K. Norristown CDC will become the PSAP for all PSP stations in Troops K, L, and M.

Future CDCs

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

Demographics

  • Male: 96%
  • Female: 4%
  • White: 82%
  • African American/Black: 9%
  • Hispanic: 2%
  • Asian: 1%

Vehicles

File:Pennsylvania State Police SUV.jpg

A Ford Expedition used by the Pennsylvania State Police.

The department currently operates a mixed fleet of Ford Crown Victorias, Chevrolet Impalas, Jeep Cherokees, Chevrolet Tahoes, Ford Expeditions and Chevrolet vans. The PSP also owns and operates numerous helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, some of which are currently for sale [7]. Current plans are underway to purchase and operate some sort of watercraft for the Delaware River in the Philadelphia area.

Recently, Chrysler products are showing up being used by the PSP, including the Dodge Magnum SXT, and RT, and also the Dodge Charger SXT and RT.

Weapons

The department recently adopted the Glock Model 37 semi automatic pistol chambered in .45 GAP as their service pistol. This replaced their Beretta 96 pistols in .40 S&W. Other firearms include the AR-15, 12-gauge shotguns (including the Remington 870 pump and 1187 semi auto), and gas grenade launcher.

Less-Lethal Weapons

The current less-lethal weapons the PSP is utilizing consists of Taser technology [8], Pepper spray (OC) and expandable ASP baton.

Civilian personnel

The PSP employs not only troopers but a myriad of other support staff. These positions include civilian clerk typists, maintenance workers and mechanics.

The PSP outlines the process to obtain civilian employment on their recruitment website.[9]

Police Communications Operator

A civilian position of noteworthiness is that of the Police Communications Operator (PCO). The PCO works at the Public-Safety Answering Point (PSAP) which is either a local barracks or at the newly developed Consolidated Dispatch Centers as a Public Safety Dispatcher.

As described by the PSP, a PCO's job responsibilities include receiving, dispatching and coordinating communications at a state police installation. An employee in this job performs communications and related activities. Full performance involves operating two-way radio consoles, cathode ray tube (CRT) devices including administrative terminal and personal computer systems, and a telephone switchboard. Work includes receiving and prioritizing incoming messages and the appropriate disposition of messages; relaying information over radio and telephone; entering information into administrative terminal and personal computer systems; monitoring the activities of all assigned units; and maintaining files and logbooks.[10]

Accreditation

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.[11]

The other "State Police"

In 2005, the PSP successfully lobbied the state Legislature to repeal an 1872 law that granted full police powers to the State Police of Crawford and Erie Counties, an unaffiliated volunteer police force. PSP Commissioner Jeffrey Miller said he was afraid people would mistake the Crawford/Erie group for actual state troopers.

Trivia

  • Stephen King's novel From a Buick 8 features Troop D in a fictional town named Statler.
  • The PSP was patterned after a military organization and PSP troopers have sometimes been referred to as "Soldiers of the Law." Divisions of the force are called "troops," and officers are known as "troopers" a title usually reserved for members of the United States Cavalry, and reminisant of the early beginnings of the department when officers patrolled on horseback. Regional headquarters, at which single troopers were once required to live, are referred to as "barracks." The original concept was that the troopers did not apply to join the PSP but "enlisted" for two-year periods, after which they could be honorably discharged or apply for reenlistment. The longstanding two-year enlistment periods were phased out in 1961.
  • PSP troopers do not wear badges on their uniforms, which reminds them that their conduct, not their badges, represents their authority. The practice dates back to European constables of the 1700s, who never wore badges. [12]
  • Married men were initially barred from becoming state troopers. After 1927, troopers were allowed to marry after they had completed their first two-year enlistment if they had approval from the police superintendent. The PSP allowed married men to enlist from 1963. [4]
  • On October 1, 1971, the first female applicant was accepted as a cadet in the Pennsylvania State Police. The Academy class, containing the first female Troopers, graduated on July 7, 1972.[13]
  • A PSP Trooper is portrayed on the television show "Prison Break" Season 2 Episode 3 "Scan." He stops fugitive Fernando Sucre's stolen automobile, makes a call to dispatch, and assumes him to be Sucre despite his feign of identity.
  • In H. Beam Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, Calvin Morrison is a PSP trooper until he is transported through Paratime. A senior member of the Paratime Police refers to the PSP as "one of the ten best constabulary organizations in the world."
  • PSP Troopers are forbidden to display facial hair while on duty and in uniform.[14]
  • PSP does not allow ride-alongs. Even State Police Cadets cannot "ride-along" prior to graduating the academy. This is done for numerous safety and liability reasons.[15]

See also

References

  1. http://psta.org/images/about_map.gif
  2. http://psta.org/about.php
  3. http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/view.asp?A=13&Q=173169
  4. 4.0 4.1 [|The Pennsylvania State Police], PSP: PSP History 1900 to 1940
    This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo.png
    , <http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/view.asp?A=100&Q=38776>. Retrieved on
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    2008.12.25
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  5. [|The Pennsylvania State Police] (2008), PSP Bureau and Office Website Listing
    This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo.png
    , <http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/browse.asp?A=312&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=49305>. Retrieved on
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    2008.12.27
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  6. [|The Pennsylvania State Police] (2008), State Police Unveils High-Tech Dispatch Center
    This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo.png
    , <http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/view.asp?A=11&Q=171335>. Retrieved on
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    2008.12.27
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  7. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=1395&&PageID=439407&level=4&css=L4&mode=2&cached=true
  8. http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/view.asp?A=11&Q=177285
  9. http://www.patrooper.com/othercareers.html
  10. http://www.psp.state.pa.us/bhr/cwp/view.asp?a=435&q=159358&bhrNav=%7C6957%7C6961%7C
  11. http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=42640
  12. [|The Pennsylvania State Police], PSP: General FAQ About Pennsylvania State Police
    This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo.png
    , <http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/browse.asp?A=15&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=70438>. Retrieved on
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    2008.12.25
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  13. [|The Pennsylvania State Police], PSP: PSP History 1941 to Present
    This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo.png
    , <http://www.psp.state.pa.us/psp/cwp/view.asp?A=100&Q=38783>. Retrieved on
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    2008.12.25
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  14. (2008.06.23). "Field Regulations, 4-2; Uniforms and Personal Appearance" (PDF). The PSP. Retrieved on Template:Wp.
  15. http://www.patrooper.com/faq.html

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