Pennsylvania State Police: Wikis


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Pennsylvania State Police
Abbreviation PSP
Pennsylvania State Police.png
Patch of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Motto Honor, Service, Integrity, Respect, Trust, Courage, Duty
Agency overview
Formed May 2, 1905
Preceding agencies
  • State Police (1905-1937)
    State Highway Patrol (1923-1937)
  • Pennsyvania Motor Police (1937-1943)
Employees 5,870 (as of 2004) [1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, USA
PA - State Police Troops.png
Pennsylvania State Police Troops
Size 46,055
Population 12,432,792 (2007 est.)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Troopers 4,200 (as of 2004) [1]
Civilians 1,670 (as of 2004) [1]
Agency executive Colonel Frank E. Pawlowski, Commissioner
Areas 5
Troops 16
Stations 90
Helicopters 7 Bell Jet Rangers
Airplanes 5 "High Wings"
Pennsylvania State Police website
* 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 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 replaced Jeffrey B. Miller.



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 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.[3][4]

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.

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.[5] 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. 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.

Uniform - Troopers to Sergeants

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 first 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 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. 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).

For special dress events, troopers wear a black "woolly-pully" commando sweater over their uniform shirts.

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 Colonel

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.
  • The campaign hat is replaced with a military officer's style service cap with a gold-colored commonwealth seal. Captains and above having the distinctive "Scrambled Eggs" on the visor.

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
US-O6 insignia.svg
Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police
Lieutenant Colonel
US-O5 insignia.svg
Second in Command of the Pennsylvania State Police.
US-O4 insignia.svg
Commander of an Area, such as Area III, encompassing several Troops.
US-O3 insignia.svg
Commander of a Troop, such as Troop B, encompassing several Stations.
Supervisor of a Station, such as Station 1 (located in Troop B of Area III)
PSP - Sergeant.jpg
Supervisor of a unit, section, or specialty position.
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.
Upon graduation from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, cadets are promoted to the rank of Trooper.
State Police Cadet
An employee of the Commonwealth who is required to graduate from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy.


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


  • 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.[6]

(*) - 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

PSP Bureaus and Offices

The PSP also has many bureaus and subdivisions within the organization.[7] This is by no means a complete list, merely a sampling of the breakdown.

  • Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • Bureau of Human Resources
  • Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement
  • Bureau of Records and Identification
  • Bureau of Patrol
  • Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards
    • Firearms Division
  • Bureau of Technology Services
  • Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network - C.L.E.A.N.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Office
  • Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission
  • Domestic Security Office
  • Gaming Enforcement Office

Dispatching Facilities[8]

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.


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 H, J, and L.


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, 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 G; the Clarion CDC will cover Troops C, D, and E; the Pittston CDC will cover Troops F, N, P, and R. Troop T stations are dispatched by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission at its Highspire headquarters.


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


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 [9]. Current plans are underway to purchase and operate some sort of watercraft for the Delaware River in the Philadelphia area.

The police in Montrose, Susquehanna country and (Bethel Park borough - White undercover-with Black R/T stickers on the bottom of the doors) currently use a Dodge Charger (LX) R/T


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.


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 [10], 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.[11]

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.[12]


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]

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.


  • The PSP is the only law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania that is authorized to use radar for speed enforcement, in accordance with Title 75 (commonly referred to as the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Annotated, Section 3368(c2).
  • 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 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.
  • 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. [14]
  • 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. [6]
  • 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.[15]
  • 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.[16]
  • 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.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies
  2. ^ 2007 Population Estimates
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b The Pennsylvania State Police (2003–4), PSP: PSP History 1900 to 1940,, retrieved 2008-12-25  
  7. ^ The Pennsylvania State Police (2008), PSP Bureau and Office Website Listing,, retrieved 2008-12-27  
  8. ^ The Pennsylvania State Police (2008), State Police Unveils High-Tech Dispatch Center,, retrieved 2008-12-27  
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^|6957|6961|
  13. ^
  14. ^ The Pennsylvania State Police (2003-04), PSP: General FAQ About Pennsylvania State Police,, retrieved 2008-12-25  
  15. ^ The Pennsylvania State Police (2003-04), PSP: PSP History 1941 to Present,, retrieved 2008-12-25  
  16. ^ (PDF) Field Regulations, 4-2; Uniforms and Personal Appearance. The PSP. 2008.06.23.  
  17. ^

External links

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