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PSP Museum

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HISTORY
PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE


In August 1987, Deputy Commissioner Ronald Sharpe was appointed Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. Colonel Sharpe was the first African-American to be appointed to that position in the history of the Department.  Many new Department initiatives were implemented under [his] direction:

View more Pennsylvania State Police leadership
Commissioner Sharpe
  
In January 1988, the Department unveiled a new uniform, with a new shoulder patch and shirt. The patch, designed by a seven­member uniform committee, incorporated the keystone and the state's coat of arms encircled by a star burst. The star burst was part of the department's first uniform, designed by Major John Groom in 1905.

Also in January 1988, the first three of 15 Canine Drug Enforcement Teams completed their initial training period and became operational. The canines and their trainers respond to requests from state and local law enforcement agencies, schools, critical industries, and appropriate public sector agencies.

After a 50-year hiatus, the Department returned to patrolling the state's highways on motorcycles. Twelve Harley Davidson motorcycles were assigned to Bethlehem, Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to respond to accidents along heavily traveled highways. The program was designed to help restore traffic on major, densely traveled highways, where conventional vehicles cannot respond quickly. The motorcycles were dedicated in August 1989.

The State Police responded to reports of a major riot at the Camp Hill State Correctional Institution in October, 1989. About 800 Troopers were on the scene during the peak of the riots with hundreds more en route to begin shift changes as the riots continued for a three­day period.

The Department announced a senior level management reorganization on in January 1990, with the creation of two new Deputy Commissioner positions and the addition of a sixth Area Command. The new Table of Organization listed a Deputy Commissioner of Administration, Deputy Commissioner of Operations, and Deputy Commissioner of Staff.

In April 1990, Governor Robert P. Casey commissioned 50 Troopers as the first members of the new Tactical Narcotics Team (TNT). The team was assigned a threefold mission: Interdict illegal drug shipments via bus stations, airports and rail terminals; mount undercover investigations targeting street and mid­level dealers; and respond quickly to drug enforcement opportunities. The force can respond anywhere in the state within 24 hours.
 

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) also became operational in 1990. The project utilizes computer technology to read, match, compare, and store fingerprint images. Without AFIS, manual search of 1 million Fingerprint cards on file would take about 65 years to complete. AFIS can accomplish the same task in about 30 minutes. The system is available to all law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania.

Beginning in January 1991, a series of strategic planning conferences were held which involved a diverse group of enlisted and civilian members of the Department. Their task was to examine the present and future demands of the Department, assess current programs, and make recommendations for long range planning.

Troop Drills were reinstated for members in the field. The Drills include inspection, marching, and drill formations.


The Pennsylvania State Police also played a crucial part in the formation of the Pennsylvania Narcotics Officer Association. Captain Paul J. Evanko of the Pennsylvania State Police was named as president.


In June 1992, two new Bureaus were created to better meet community needs and law enforcement challenges. The Bureau of Drug Law Enforcement provided a united and coordinated front in enforcing drug laws. The Bureau of Emergency and Special Operations, consolidated the functions of Aviation, Executive Protection, Special Emergency Response Team, Canines and Underwater Search and Recovery.


The First law enforcement DNA testing laboratory opened in Greensburg on September 22, 1992. DNA analysis can be 100 times more definitive in identifying a subject than traditional tests of blood or body fluids. DNA helps link suspects to crimes and helps exonerate individuals wrongly accused of serious crimes.


The State Police unveiled its airborne thermal imaging system on Nov. 15, 1993. The system will bolster State Police search, surveillance, apprehension and rescue capability. The infrared sensors, which are mounted on the bottom of State Police helicopters, detect heat that is radiated from the outside surface of a person or object. Officers view the heat­contrasted images on a video monitor in their aircraft. While the devices cannot see into or through structures, they are useful in helping officers spot subjects in all light conditions ­­ especially at night.


In April. 1993, Commissioner Glenn A. Walp established 34 full­time community service officers throughout the state. The officers establish a working and open relationship with citizens, the local police. Community organizations, municipal leaders and school officials; provide drug education and traffic safety programs for area citizens; assist in the development and maintenance of programs such as Neighborhood Crime Watch, Victim/Witness Assistance, Utility Watch, Hug­A­Bear, Gifts for Kids. Camp Cadet and Crime Stoppers; and act as the troop public information specialists on major Troop­/Area State Police activities and emergencies.


In 1993, the department purchased 4,500 new semi­automatic weapons. It had been the more than a decade since the last purchase of new weapons. The 40 Caliber Beretta has more firepower and is expected to improve the safety and effectiveness of State Police officers.


On July 31, 1993, The Pennsylvania State Police became the largest accredited police agency in the world. In order to gain accredited status from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the department had to comply with 733 professional police standards.



In 1993, the department purchased 4,500 new semi­automatic weapons. It had been the more than a decade since the last purchase of new weapons. The 40 Caliber Beretta has more firepower and is expected to improve the safety and effectiveness of State Police officers.


On July 31, 1993, The Pennsylvania State Police became the largest accredited police agency in the world. In order to gain accredited status from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the department had to comply with 733 professional police standards.


 
Photo of Robots
In February, 1994, the department purchased 15 Trooper Robots to bolster State Police educational programs for young children. The four foot tall robots, which are dressed as Troopers, weigh 80 pounds. Their voice, heads, eyes, lips, arms. hands and mobility are controlled by wireless remote control.

In December of 1994, Maj. Virginia Smith-Elliott became the first woman promoted to the rank of major. She serves as the department's Affirmative Action Officer.

In May of 1995, the Department contracted with KPMG-Peat Marwick LLP (KPMG) to perform an enterprise-wide evaluation of the Department's business processes and to develop an information technology strategic plan. This meeting launched the Department's Automation Project. On June 30, 1996, KPMG delivered to the State Police and the Executive Information Technology Steering Committee an information technology strategic plan which was presented and accepted by the Department. In September of 1996, the Department issued a request for proposal for the implementation of the Enterprise Network, which was the first priority listed in the information technology strategic plan. In July of 1997, a preliminary award was given to IBM Corporation for the implementation of the enterprise network for the Department. On November 29, 1997, the Bureau of Technology Services was formed, from the former Information Systems Division of the Bureau of Records and Information Services, to support the growing technology needs of the Department. On June 11, 1998, a contract was put in place between the Pennsylvania State Police and IBM Corporation for implementation of the Enterprise Network


Photo of Cermonial Unit
State Police Ceremonial Unit

In August of 1995, the Department formed a Ceremonial Unit to standardize the response and appearance of members at funerals and parades. The Ceremonial Unit consists of a Color Guard, Casket Team, and a Firing Detail. The Unit provides services at the funeral of a deceased active member or a deceased retired member. In addition, the Color Guard will respond to requests for appearances at parades and ceremonies.

In April of 1996, State Police Commissioner Paul J. Evanko authorized the use of video cameras in patrol cars. The cameras provide additional documentation of patrol stops. The department initially equipped 66 marked patrol cars with the video cameras.

On July 12, 1996, the Troop B, Pittsburgh Station was closed.

On May 12, 1997, the 100th Cadet Class graduated 129 new Troopers from the Academy in Hershey.

In February 1997, the Department acquired the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) through the use of federal grant monies and the assistance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. IBIS analyzes bullets and cartridge cases and can compare every firearm, bullet, and cartridge case to each other, and against the bullets and cartridge cases previously entered into the database. IBIS is able to compare "electronic exhibits" from any location utilizing IBIS technology. On May 17, 1997, Area V was realigned by consolidating the interstate troop, Troop S, with and into adjacent county Troop Commands. In early 1997, a Cadet Qualifying Examination was developed and approved by an expert panel as valid, job-related and non-discriminatory.

On September 10 and 11, 1997, the Cadet examination was administered and a joint motion was submitted to the court for dissolution of the Consent Decree.

On July 1, 1997, the Department ceased its participation in the Attorney General's regional Drug Strike Forces. Tactical Narcotic Teams were organized at the Troop level to work with Troop Vice Units for a more coordinated effort towards intelligence gathering, surveillance, undercover operations, and interdiction.

In October 1997, 15 specially equipped, all-wheel-drive vans were distributed to the Troops. One Forensic Unit van was assigned to each Troop to be utilized by the Identification Unit when responding to crime and accident scenes. Each van is equipped with police light-bars, an elevated platform, roof-mounted spotlights, cell phone, storage compartments, and a folding ladder. The vans carry specialized investigative equipment, including cameras, metal detectors, forensic light sources, electrostatic dust print lifters, fingerprint processing equipment, and evidence vacuums.

On January 1, 1998, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) assumed responsibility for the administrative supervision of Safety/Emissions Inspection Stations and motor vehicle dealers, thus relieving the Department of the responsibility of Official Inspection Station regulatory functions.

On February 12, 1998, the inspection of underground storage tanks, pumps, and related devices was transferred from the Pennsylvania State Police to the Department of Labor and Industry.

      General history after 1998 is a work in progress...


Full list of PSP Commissioners/Superintendents

 

Superintendents of The Pennsylvania State Police

  • John C. Groome...........Appointed - July 1, 1905
  • George F. Lumb.........Appointed - June 3, 1919
  • Lynn G. Adams..........Appointed - March 1, 1920

 


Superintendents of The Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol

  • Wilson C. Price...........................Appointed May 18, 1923
  • Deputy Supt. Philip J. Dorr..........(Acting) February 29, 1936
  • Lt. Earl J. Henry..........................(Acting) March 16, 1936
  • Charles H. Quarles......................Appointed April 13, 1936
  • Lt. Earl J. Henry..........................(Acting) February 28, 1937

 


Commissioners of The Pennsylvania Motor Police

  • Col. Percy W. Foote..........................Appointed June 29, 1937
  • Lt. Col. C.M. Wilhelm........................Appointed January 25, 1939
  • Col. Lynn G. Adams..........................Appointed May 31, 1939
  • Col. C.M. Wilhelm............................Appointed January 20, 1943

Commissioners of The Pennsylvania State Police

  • Col. Cecil M. Wilhelm......................................................Appointed June 1, 1943
  • Col. Earl J. Henry.........................................................Appointed March 28, 1955
  • Col. Frank G. McCartney............................................Appointed February 26, 1959
  • Col. E. Wilson Purdy..................................................Appointed January 29, 1963
  • Lt. Col. Paul A. Rittelmann..........................................(Acting) April 8, 1966
  • Col. Frank Mcketta ...................................................January 17, 1967
  • Col. Rocco P. Urella ..................................................January 25, 1971
  • Col. James D. Barger .................................................January 2, 1973
  • Col. Paul J. Chylak ....................................................February 15, 1977
  • Col. Daniel F. Dunn (Died in office)................................March 1, 1979
  • Lt. Col.Cyril J. Laffey .................................................(Acting) May 16, 1984
  • Lt. Col. Nicholas Dellarciprete.......................................(Acting) December 1, 1984
  • Col. Jay Cochran, Jr. ..................................................March 6, 1985
  • Col. John K. Schafer ..................................................(Died in office) January 30, 1987
  • Col. Ronald M. Sharpe ................................................August 3, 1987
  • Col. Glenn A. Walp .....................................................April 23, 19
  • Maj. James B. Hazen ..................................................(Acting) January 17, 1995
  • Col. Paul J. Evanko ....................................................February 15, 1995
  • Col. Jeffrey B. Miller....................................................March 24, 2003
  • Col. Frank E. Pawlowski...............................................October 2008
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