Pennsylvania State Police

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Pennsylvania State Police
Patch of Pennsylvania State Police
Patch of Pennsylvania State Police
Wordmark of the Pennsylvania State Police
Wordmark of the Pennsylvania State Police
Agency overview
FormedMay 2, 1905; 118 years ago (1905-05-02)
Preceding agencies
  • Pennsylvania State Constabulary (1905–1937)
  • State Highway Patrol (1923–1937)
  • Pennsylvania Motor Police (1937–1943)
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionPennsylvania, U.S.
PA - State Police Troops.png
Pennsylvania State Police Troops
Size46,055 sq mi
Population12,972,008 (2022)[1]
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersHarrisburg, Pennsylvania
Troopers4,547 (as of 2021)[2]
Civilian employees1,850 (as of 2015)[2]
Agency executive
Helicopters8 Bell 407GX
Airplanes6 "High Wings"
Pennsylvania State Police website

The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is the state police agency of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, responsible for statewide law enforcement. The Pennsylvania State Police is a full service law enforcement agency which handles both traffic and criminal law enforcement. The Pennsylvania State Police was founded in 1905 by order of Governor Samuel Pennypacker, by signing Senate Bill 278 on May 2, 1905. The bill was signed in response to the Great Anthracite Strike of 1902. Leading up to the Anthracite Strike, private police forces (the coal and iron police) were used by mine and mill owners to stop worker strikes. The inability or refusal of local police or sheriffs' offices to enforce the law, directly influenced the signing of Bill 278. The Anthracite Strike lasted from May 15 to October 23, 1902, and ended with the help of Theodore Roosevelt, the sitting president at the time.

PSP enlisted members are referred to as "Troopers". Up until 1963, married men were not allowed to apply to the state police, and active troopers had to seek permission from their superior officer to get married. As of 2021, the state police has approximately 4,547 State Troopers and more than 1,850 civilian support staff.[3]

Pennsylvania State Police Academy[edit]

In 1924, a State Police training academy was built in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Cocoa Avenue. The site was located at the Hershey Inn and it remained at this location until 1960 when it was moved to 175 Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania. The current location is fitted with kennels, stables and a range, among other facilities, and is located only a few miles from the original site. Once accepted into the Pennsylvania State Police Academy cadets endure a rigorous 28-week training period.[4] Cadets live at the academy in barracks style quarters and are only permitted to go home on designated weekends. Cadets who fail to complete physical training in required times or who show any other type of deficiencies may be restricted from going home. While attending training, cadets are put on an 18-month probationary period and can be dismissed at any point in their training by the commissioner under any form of incompetence, inefficiency, or general violation of rules and regulations.[5] The current drop-out rate for new recruits in the academy is approximately 20 percent per class.


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

Barracks listing by county[edit]

Bureaus and offices[edit]

The PSP also has many bureaus and subdivisions within the organization.[6] This is by no means a complete list, merely a sampling of the breakdown.

  • Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • Bureau of Emergency and Special Operations
  • Bureau of Forensic Services
  • Bureau of Human Resources
  • Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement
  • Bureau of Records and Identification
  • Bureau of Patrol
  • Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards
  • Bureau of Communications and Information Services
  • Bureau of Staff Services
  • Bureau of Research & Development
  • Bureau of Training & Education
  • Bureau of Gaming Enforcement
  • Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network – C.L.E.A.N.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Office
  • Public Information Office
  • Recruitment and Special Services Office
  • Member Assistance Office
  • Department Discipline Office
  • Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission (MPOETC)
  • Domestic Security Office
  • Bureau of Pregnancies & Domestic Affairs

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 consists 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. The PSP is one of only five state police forces that do not wear a badge on their uniform shirts.[7][self-published source?] The original PSP uniform was modeled after 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 one-inch-wide black stripe on the leg. PSP shoes and/or boots are also black in color.

The PSP duty belt is 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 four 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.

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:

  • A gold-colored commonwealth 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 of increasing width with higher rank.
  • The campaign hat is replaced with a military officer's style service cap with a gold-colored commonwealth seal. Captains and above have the distinctive "scrambled eggs" on the visor. Alternatively, officers may wear the campaign hat with a gold coat of arms with the duty uniform.

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, U.S. 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
  • Lieutenant Colonel: three service stripes
  • Colonel: four service stripes

Ranks, insignia, and descriptions[edit]

Title Insignia Additional Information
Colonel (Commissioner)
US-O6 insignia.svg
The Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police holds the Rank of Colonel.
Lieutenant Colonel (Deputy Commissioner)
US-O5 insignia.svg
The Deputy Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police holds the Rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
US-O4 insignia.svg
Majors are in charge as the Commander of an Area, such as Area III, encompassing several Troops.
US-O3 insignia.svg
Captains are in charge of a Troop, such as Troop B, encompassing several Stations.
US-O2 insignia.svg
Lieutenants are Commanders in charge of a Station, such as Station 1 (located in Troop B of Area III).
PSP - Sergeant.jpg
Sergeants are Station Commanders, Supervisor of a unit, section, or specialty position.
PSP - Corporal.jpg
Corporals are Supervisors of Troopers, overseeing 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.
Upon graduation from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, cadets are promoted to the rank of Trooper.
State Police Cadet
A State Police Cadet is a Commonwealth employee who is enrolled in but has not yet graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.


The department currently operates a mixed fleet of vehicles including the new law enforcement specific Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer, Crown Victorias and Dodge Charger, which are only used by Pennsylvania Turnpike Troopers. The PSP also owns and operates numerous helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.[8] PSP operates watercraft mainly on the Delaware River and Lake Erie.


Pennsylvania State Police Helicopter

The PSP Aviation Section consists of thirty-five trooper pilots and three full-time mechanics, using eight law enforcement specific Bell 407GX helicopters and six airplanes statewide. These aircraft are stationed in six aviation patrol units (APU).


The Pennsylvania State Police utilizes the SIG Sauer P227[9][10] semiautomatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP as their service pistol.[11]

Other firearms include the Colt AR-15 (including the LE6920 and LE6940), 12-gauge shotguns (including the Remington 870 pump), and gas grenade launcher.[12]

The current less-lethal weapons the PSP is utilizing consist of Electroshock weapon technology,[13] pepper spray (OC), and expandable ASP straight batons.


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.[14]

Accreditation is a process used by professional law enforcement agencies to facilitate the creation, verification and maintenance of high-quality policies and procedures, via voluntary compliance with 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.[15]

Superintendents and commissioners[edit]

The following is a chronological listings of Commissioners of the Pennsylvania State Police since 1095:[16]

Name Years of Service Notes
Groome, John C. 1905–1920 First Commissioner, appointed by Governor Pennypacker
Adams, Lynn G. 1920–1937
Foote, Percy W. 1937–1939
Adams, Lynn G. 1939–1943
Wilhelm, Cecil M. 1943–1955
Henry, E.J. 1955–1959
McCartney, Frank G. 1959–1963
Purdy, E. Wilson 1963–1966
Rittelmann, Paul A. 1966–1967
McKetta, Frank 1967–1971 Appointed by Governor Shafer, previously led the Federal Protective Service
Urella, Rocco 1971–1973
Barger, James 1973–1977
Chylak, Paul 1977–1979
Dunn, Daniel 1979–1984
Laffey, Cyril 1984
Dellarciprete, Nicholas 1984–1985
Cochran, Jay, Jr.[17] 1985–1987
Schafer, John K. 1987
Sharpe, Ronald 1987–1991
Walp, Glenn 1991–1996
Evanko, Paul 1996–2003 Appointed by Governors Ridge and Schweiker
Miller, Jeffrey B. 2003–2008 Promoted from MAJ, appointed by Governor Rendell
Pawlowski, Frank 2008–2011 Promoted from LTC, appointed by Governor Rendell
Noonan, Frank 2011–2014 Former FBI Agent, appointed by Governor Corbett
Blocker, Tyree C. 2015–2018 Former PSP Major, appointed by Governor Wolf
Evanchick, Robert 2019–2022
(Acting: 2018–2019)
Former Deputy Commissioner of Operations, appointed by Governor Wolf
Paris, Christopher 2023-present Former PSP Major, appointed by Governor Shapiro


Pennsylvania Constabulary 1905
Pennsylvania Constabulary at McKee's Rock 1909
  • PSP Troopers are widely recognized for wearing the strap of their winter campaign hats under their chins, a tradition that goes back to the early 1900s, which was based on British and Irish Bobbies.
  • The PSP is one of only a handful of state police agencies that do not wear badges on their uniforms.
  • The PSP was nationally recognized as the premiere state police agency in the early years of the 20th century. State troopers from North Carolina and Kentucky attended the training academy so they could start PSP-style state agencies in their respective states. NC trooper cadets at the academy in Raleigh and KY trooper cadets in Frankfort are frequently reminded they have a familial connection to the PSP through their training process history.[citation needed]
  • The PSP was patterned after a military organization and PSP troopers have sometimes been referred to as "Soldiers of the Law and Order".[citation needed] 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 reminiscent 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.
  • 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 in 1963.[18]
  • 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.[19]

Misconduct and controversy[edit]


Trooper Michael Evans pleaded guilty in October 2000 to sexual crimes committed against six women and teenage girls while on duty. He was sentenced to between five and ten years in custody.[20][21]


In September, 2007, Trooper Kevin Foley was arrested for the murder of a dentist, Dr. John Yelenic, in Blairsville, Pennsylvania.[22]


In July, 2008, Trooper Kevin Coleman was charged with protecting a prostitution ring based out of the Gables Truck Stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.[23]


In May 2009, Trooper Shawn Dillard was found guilty by a federal court of using his position to protect an interstate prostitution ring based out of the Gables Truck Stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This was the same investigation that led to the arrest of Trooper Coleman.[24]


In early 2011, as a result of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the state police agreed to stop issuing tickets to people who swear. Press reports indicated the state police had issued as many as 700 such citations a year.[25]


In January 2012, Lieutenant Barry Eugene Staub, the commander of the state police barracks in York was arrested for driving while drunk. He retired when charges were brought against him.[26]


In March, 2014 Trooper Barry M Seafoss, Jr. pleaded guilty to killing a woman while driving drunk in 2012. He was sentenced to between six and 23 months' confinement.[27]


Trooper Ryan Luckenbaugh was sentenced by Judge Scott A. Evans to 9 to 22 months in county prison on his official oppression, simple assault and harassment convictions. Luckenbaugh kicked a handcuffed man in the face while the man sat on the sidewalk and lied about it on official reports.[28]


Trooper Robert E. Covington Jr., of Olyphant, PA, for his alleged involvement in illegal activity occurring at Sinners Swing Gentlemen's Club in Mayfield Borough, Lackawanna County. Covington, 48, is a 13-year veteran of PSP and was assigned to the Bureau of Gaming Enforcement, Pocono Downs Wilkes-Barre Office. He had been on restricted duty during the investigation and is currently suspended without pay pending resolution of the charges against him.

Multiple Troopers Facing Charges

Trooper Joshua Ravel from the York barracks was charged with DUI while on duty after he showed up for his shift and drove from York to Lancaster and back for a special assignment. He was taken to the supervisors office where he appeared under the influence, and a chemical breath test revealed his blood alcohol content to be .144. A review of the dash camera footage from his cruiser showed he was unable to maintain his lane of travel several times during the drive.

Trooper Joshua Burney from the Lewis Run barracks in McKean county was charged with DUI while on duty after a colleague noticed he smelled of alcohol and had red, glossed over eyes. Trooper Burney was taken back to the barracks where preliminary field sobriety tests and a breath test showed signs of impairment. A blood draw test showed his blood alcohol content to be .086. A review of the dash camera footage from his cruiser showed he was unable to maintain his lane of travel several times during his response to an emergency call in Mount Jewett Borough.

Both troopers were suspended without pay pending to outcome of their cases. Trooper Burney was the second trooper to be charged with DUI on duty within 4 months along with Trooper Ravel. Both were on the job for the PA State Police for less then 2 years. Trooper Ravel graduated from the Academy in June 2020, and Trooper Burney graduated August 2021.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "QuickFacts: Pennsylvania". U.S. Census Bureau. July 1, 2022. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Pennsylvania State Police Appropriation Hearings 2022-23 Budget Request" (PDF).
  3. ^ "About the Pennsylvania State Police". Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 12-08-2014.
  4. ^ "PA Trooper".
  5. ^ "PA Trooper".
  6. ^ The Pennsylvania State Police (2008), PSP Bureau and Office Website Listing, retrieved 2008-12-27
  7. ^ Kidd, R. Spencer (2012). Uniforms of the U.S. State Police & Highway Patrols. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4717-7729-5. OCLC 929822564.[self-published source]
  8. ^ "Aviation".
  9. ^ P227 Archived 2015-01-14 at the Wayback Machine (specifically the SIG Sauer P227R (rail), .45 ACP, Nitron, SLITE (SIGLITE Night Sights), DA/SA)
  10. ^ SIG Sauer, Catalog Product Details, P227 Nitron
  11. ^ "PA - eMarketplace".
  12. ^ NRA Staff. "Pennsylvania State Police Select Remington 870". American Rifleman. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Home".
  14. ^ PA State Police Remains Largest Accredited Police Agency in the World PR Newswire. Retrieved 12-08-2014.
  15. ^ "Home".
  16. ^ Pennsylvania State Police Leadership, Superintendents and Commissioners since 1905, retrieved 2011-03-05
  17. ^ "PSP-HEMC: Pennsylvania State Police Leadership".
  18. ^ The Pennsylvania State Police (April 2003), PSP: PSP History 1900 to 1940, retrieved 2008-12-25
  19. ^ "The page 'faq.html' was not found".
  20. ^ Alleged trooper sex acts listed Accusations of sexual misconduct on the Pa. state police force are outlined in a court filing, by Chris Gray, Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 June 2003, INQUIRER
  21. ^ Trooper Pleads Guilty Michael Evans Gets 5-10 Years For Sexually Abusing 3 Girls, 3 Women, by Joseph P Ferry, 4 October 2000, The Morning Call
  22. ^ Trooper arrested in dentist's killing, by Jim McKinnon, 28 September 2007 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  23. ^ Officer 2nd charged in prostitution inquiry, by Pete Shellem, 4 July 2008 Patriot News
  24. ^ FBI press release "Former Pennsylvania State Trooper Convicted" dated 16 May 2009
  25. ^ What the .... It's not illegal to swear at a state police officer, by the Associated Press, January 04, 2011
  26. ^ Commander of York County state police barracks retires after DUI charge, by MIKE ARGENTO, 6 January 2012, Daily Record/Sunday News
  27. ^ Ex-Trooper get jail time for fatal Upper Dublin Crash, by Margret Gibbons, 4 March 2014, The Intelligencer
  28. ^ Ex-state trooper gets prison term for kicking handcuffed Harrisburg activist in the face, 18 April 2017, PennLive

External links[edit]