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HISTORY
PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE

President Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill -1910
In 1910, the Pennsylvania State Police received high praise from President Theodore Roosevelt. He visited the Wyoming Barracks and inspected the Troop on August 10, 1910.

  
The State Police was authorized to establish a fifth Troop on July 1, 1919. The Troop was designated Troop E and established in Lancaster. Also in 1919, the State Police established motorcycle patrols to deal with the growing number of motorists.

In February 1920, a State Police training school was established in Newville, Cumberland County. Also that year, the Superintendent created the Bureau of Criminal Identification and the Bureau of Fire Protection. In April, seventy motorcycles were purchased; 14 were assigned to each of the Five Troops. Patrol zones were established and owners of telephones along the patrol zones were given steel discs or flags to indicate a telephone (flag stop). Motorcycle patrols, seeing a flag stop displayed, would interrupt their patrol activity to telephone their Station for assignments. Troop Commanders monthly conferences were established that June.

On August 25, 1922, the Superintendent issued a Special Order bestowing upon the Deputy Superintendent the rank of Major. This was the initial use of that rank in constabulary history.
The Newville Training School was closed on March 1, 1923. A temporary school was established at the Pennsylvania National Guard Military Reservation at Mt. Gretna near Colebrook, Lebanon County. Accommodations consisted of tents and military field equipment. The temporary school was closed in the summer of 1923.

The State Highway Patrol was created in 1923 within the Department of Highways to enforce the vehicle laws of Pennsylvania's burgeoning highway system. The same year saw the State Police install the nation's first state wide police radio telegraph system. The system remained operational until 1947. A State Police Training School was established in Hershey, Dauphin County, on Cocoa Avenue, in 1924. That training school would remain at that site until 1960. The State Highway Patrol secured the use of the Hershey Inn in Hershey, to train Highway Patrol recruits.

Also in 1924, Troop F­ Lancaster, was moved to Harrisburg and Troop C, Pottsville, relocated to Reading. That same year saw the First drivers license examination for Pennsylvania motorists.
In 1926, the State Highway Patrol Training School was moved from the Hershey Inn to 19th and Swatara Streets, Harrisburg. The Highway Patrol at that time consisted of forty­ six Sub­Stations.
In 1927, the Superintendent established the first two State Highway Patrol Troops. They were Troop A, Harrisburg, and Troop B, Greensburg. that year also saw the First State Highway Patrolman killed in the line of duty.

The State Police, in 1927, issued a regulation that prohibited any member from marrying without the Superintendent's approval. That same year saw the State Police establish a public radio station in Harrisburg, WBAK. In 1929, the Superintendent issued a General Order requiring all members of the department to memorize the State Police Call of Honor.

On June 1, 1928, the State Highway Patrol established Troop C, Bellefonte and on September 1, 1929, Troop D, Williamsport was established. The year 1930 saw the Superintendent establish a Headquarters Detective Division. In 1931, Governor Gifford Pinchot formally dedicated a new Highway Patrol Building at 21st and Herr Streets in Harrisburg. It became Troop A. with a supply unit and training school for the State Highway Patrol. In 1932, the State Highway Patrol established Troop 'F,' Philadelphia.

The State Police, in 1932, established a Photographic Section and a small Crime Laboratory Division. That year the first polygraph was purchased and a Criminal Intelligence Section was formed.

In 1933, the Highway Patrol celebrated its 10th anniversary with a formal inspection at Long­wood Gardens, near Kennett Square, Chester County. Original members were presented with a uniform star insignia representing 10 years of service. The practice of issuing service insignias continues today.

In 1935, Troop F, Franklin, became the sixth and last Troop to be established by the Highway Patrol before the merger with the State Police on June 29, 1937. The new department was called the Pennsylvania Motor Police. In addition, the new department administrator would be known as the Commissioner. The new Commissioner appointed himself a Colonel and his Deputy Commissioner as a Lieutenant Colonel. This represented the first time these ranks were used.

The Commissioner divided the department into four districts with district headquarters established in Greensburg, Harrisburg, Wyoming, and Philadelphia on July 21, 1937. There were 11 troops within the district structure. They were:
  
District I District II

Troop A, Greensburg Troop E, Harrisburg
Troop D, Butler Troop G. Hollidaysburg
Troop F, Franklin Troop 1, Bellefonte
Troop H, Greensburg

District III District IV

Troop B, Wyoming Troop L Philadelphia
Troop K, Fingston Troop C, Reading

That year saw the rank of Private Second Class (P2C) and Private First Class (PFC) established.

On January 1, 1938, the Commissioner established a medical Unit and the first Medical Officer was appointed to the rank of Major. Additionally, the Commissioner established a Communications Division.


In February 1938, the Commissioner ordered 267 passenger cars painted white with black hoods and Pennsylvania Motor Police lettering on the door. These cars became known as Ghost Cars.

The Department was reorganized on August 11, 1938:

First Squadron

Troop A, Greensburg
Troop B, Washington
Troop C, Punxsutawney
Troop D, Butler
Troop E, Erie

Second Squadron

Troop A, Harrisburg
Troop B, Chambersburg
Troop C, Hollidaysburg
Troop D, Williamsport
Troop E, Harrisburg


In June 1939, legislation passed that added to the responsibility of the Pennsylvania Motor Police the return of escaped convicts and parole violators. Other laws added the responsibility to the Motor Police for annual school bus inspection and inspection station supervision.

January 1940, saw yet another reorganization within the Department:


First Squadron

Troop A, Greensburg
Troop B, Washington
Troop C, Punxsutawney
Troop D, Butler
Troop E, Erie


Second Squadron

Troop A, Harrisburg
Troop B, Chambersburg
Troop C, Hollidaysburg
Troop D, Williamsport


During that same year, 150 men underwent training at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation because the Hershey Training School was inadequate for that number of recruits.  

On October 1, 1940, Troop B, Chambersburg, was dissolved and re-established as a special patrol unit in Bedford. It was given the responsibility of patrolling the newly established Pennsylvania Turnpike System. The former Troop's duties were divided between Troop A, Greensburg; Troop A. Harrisburg; and Troop C, Hollidaysburg.

1941 to Present
The Commissioner created the Executive Service Section on February 5, 1942.

Act 52 of April 28, 1943, changed the name of the organization from the Pennsylvania Motor Police to the Pennsylvania State Police. The department also became responsible for enforcing the Uniform Firearms Act that year.

State Police were assigned to assist the Pennsylvania Aeronautics Commission in the investigation of aircraft accidents and aircraft violations in 1945. This function continued until 1972.

The year 1946 saw the First state wide radio telephone system installed and the elimination of 'flag stops.'

In 1947, new laws authorized the State Police to assist the Department of Revenue in collecting the state's cigarette tax and enforcing the Fuel Use Tax. The Department of Revenue provided the State Police with cruiser type motor launches to patrol the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers and Lake Erie. Four men were assigned to each detail. A 1949 law authorized the State Police to inspect dry cleaning and dying plants.

The State Police dissolved the terms 'Private Second Class' and 'Private First Class' in favor of 'Private' in 1953. That rank continued until 1956 when the term was replaced by 'Trooper.' During the mid 1950's, the Retired State Police Association was formed.

On July 10, 1957, Act 360 provided for a mandatory retirement at 60 years of age, exclusive of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.

Chrome badges were replaced by gold badges in a leather case in 1959. Washable summer shirts were issued. Straw campaign hats were introduced for summer wear. New officers' caps with gold braid and the 'scrambled eggs' were issued. New black and gold patches were also issued.

A new State Police Academy in Hershey opened on March 2. 1960. The Academy was officially dedicated on June 13, 1960. That same year saw the first combined Troop Commanders and District Commanders Conference.

On September 1, 1961, the State Police officially began radar speed checks, utilizing - I 32 sets. That same year, the two­year enlistment discharge paper and re-enlistment process was discontinued.

On October 1, 1963, married men were permitted to apply for the State Police. That same year also saw the Commissioner establish a Youth Aid Division.

All Troops dropped the district designation and were alphabetically designated on January 1, 1965:


Troop A. Greensburg Troop J, Lancaster
Troop B, Washington Troop K Philadelphia
Troop C, Punxsutawney Troop L, Reading
Troop D, Butler Troop M, Bethlehem
Troop E, Erie Troop N, Hazleton
Troop F, Montoursville Troop P, Wyoming
Troop G, Hollidaysburg Troop R, Dunmore
Troop H, Harrisburg Troop T, Highspire
The radio teletype system was computerized on June 1, 1965.

On October 5, 1967, a new law (Act 140)

eliminated the two­year enlistment process and provided for one enlistment until discharged or retired. That same year saw the establishment of an 18­month probationary period for Cadets and Troopers.

Six Area Commands were created in January of 1968. Also that year saw short sleeve shirts being issued for the first time. New small chevrons were issued for noncommissioned officers. In November 1968, the State Police Aviation Division was established.

A new Troop, designated 'S', was activated on September 1, 1970. It was given the responsibility of patrolling the Pennsylvania's Interstate Systems. Early the following year, Area Command VI was established and given command over Troops 'S' and 'T'.

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.

The State Police received responsibility for administering the state wide Uniform Crime Report on July 1, 1973. The following year the State Police received a new radio communications system.     In compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1969, a Consent Decree was entered into by the Department in 1974 with regard to hiring practices and promotional procedures. That same year saw the State Police Rodeo discontinued. The Rodeo had been a public relations aspect of the Department since 1934. In December of 1974, a new state wide radio system was formally dedicated.

A new State Police Department Headquarters building was dedicated on September 12, 1978. Department Headquarters no longer had to share its facilities with other state agencies.

Operation S.PA.R.E. (State Police Aerial Reconnaissance and Enforcement) was initiated on October 20, 1978 as Troopers clocked motorists With a stopwatch from a State Police helicopter.

Two UH­1B helicopters (Hueys), acquired through the Federal Military Surplus Property System from the Pennsylvania National Guard, were put into service in March 1979. Based at Harrisburg and Latrobe, the helicopters were to be used for disaster rescues and emergency medical transportation. Impetus for acquisition of the units was provided, in large part, by the loss of life in the 1977 Johnstown Flood.

The Department marked its 75th Anniversary with a sellout celebration at the Hershey Convention Center with more than 1,000 persons in attendance. A memorial, honoring those persons killed in the line of duty, was dedicated at the Academy. The monument was paid for by contributions.

In June 1980, department members were issued a new sidearm, the .357 magnum Ruger, a stainless steel, four inch barrel revolver. It was the first major change in State Police issued weaponry in its 75 year history.      

In October 1980, the State Police expanded the aviation Division with the addition of a federally­funded Cessna 182 Skylane to assist in the State Police Aerial Reconnaissance Enforcement (S.P.A.R.E.) Program.


On October 16, 1981, the Records and Identification Division completed the first phase of computerizing the Master Name Index of the criminal history file, thus providing a more efficient response to criminal history record inquiries.


The Department's Laboratory Division expanded in October 1982 with the addition of a new lab in Lima, Delaware County.



The Pennsylvania State Police developed 'Pennsylvania Crime Watch' in an effort to reduce and solve crime in December 1982. In July 1984, Pennsylvania was recognized by the National Crime Prevention Coalition as having the best state crime prevention program in the nation.

The Office of Professional Responsibility was created in 1985 to enforce the high standards of conduct among all State Police officers and employees.


In April 1986, the Department announced a program aimed at the interdiction of drug trafficking along the Commonwealth's highways code­named, "Operation Whiteline.' The program was designed to train patrol personnel in the recognition of drug traffickers and their methods of operation.


Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers was created in the Bureau of Community Services in 1986. Crime Stoppers utilizes the news media and citizens to locate criminals who are sought by police. Rewards are offered for information that helps police locate the criminals.

Citing the need for the State Police to employ expertly trained officers versed in the most modern concepts available to manage potentially lethal incidents, the State Police announced the formation of a Special Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.). The team has members who are trained in tactical and negotiation responses. The first S.E.R.T. Team was organized in Eastern Pennsylvania in December, 1986. A second S.E.R.T. Team was organized for Western Pennsylvania in June, 1992.



The First group of Peer Contacts, part of the newly formed Member Assistance Program, completed their training in Hershey in September 1986. The training is designed to develop and refine the listening and helping skills of the peer contacts.



A new radio communication system was installed throughout the state replacing the department's four­channel mobile radios with a system that has 32 separate channels. For the first time, patrol cars have the ability to communicate with local police jurisdictions as 11 channels were allocated to local and municipal police organizations.


The enforcement of Pennsylvania's liquor laws was transferred to the Pennsylvania State Police in July 1987. A Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement was established as the department welcomed 144 enforcement officers, 81 clerical personnel and 2 attorneys who transferred from the liquor Control Board.


 

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