Pennsylvania State Police History Continued...


On Oct. 1, 1971, the first female cadets were accepted by the Pennsylvania State Police. The academy class with the first women troopers graduated on July 7, 1972.

The State Police received responsibility for administering the statewide Uniform Crime Report on July 1, 1973.

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. In that same year, the State Police Rodeo was discontinued. The rodeo had been a public relations program of the Department since 1934. In December of 1974, a new statewide radio system was formally dedicated.

A new State Police Department Headquarters building was dedicated on Sept. 12, 1978. Department Headquarters no longer had to share its facilities with other state agencies.  Operation S.P.A.R.E. (State Police Aerial Reconnaissance and Enforcement) was initiated on Oct. 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 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 federally ­funded Cessna 182 Skylane to assist in the S.P.A.R.E. program.

On Oct. 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 in December 1982 developed "Pennsylvania Crime Watch" in an effort to reduce and solve crime.  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 high standards of conduct among all State Police officers and employees.

In April 1986, the Department announced "Operation Whiteline," a program aimed at the interdiction of drug trafficking on state highways.

Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers was created in the Bureau of Community Services in 1986. Crime Stoppers uses the media and citizens to locate criminals 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 in potentially lethal incidents, State Police formed a Special Emergency Response Team (SERT). The team members are trained in tactical and negotiation responses. The first SERT was organized in Eastern Pennsylvania in December 1986. A second SERT 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 was designed to develop and refine the listening and helping skills of the peer contacts.

A new radio communication system was installed throughout the state.  It replaced the Department's four­channel mobile radios with a system that had 32 separate channels. For the first time, patrol cars had 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 State Police in July 1987. The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement was established as the Department welcomed 144 enforcement officers, 81 clerical personnel and two attorneys who transferred from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.



Commissioner Ronald Sharpe

In August 1987, Deputy Commissioner Ronald Sharpe was appointed commissioner of the State Police, becoming the first African-American to be appointed to that position.  Multiple new Department initiatives were implemented under Col. Sharpe's direction.

In January 1988, the Department unveiled a new uniform with a new shoulder patch and shirt. The patch, designed by a seven-­member 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, which was 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 crashes on heavily traveled highways. The program was designed to help restore traffic on major highways when conventional vehicles cannot respond quickly to a crash scene. The motorcycles were dedicated in August 1989. 

The State Police responded to 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 incident, which continued for three days.

The Department in January 1990 announced a senior level management reorganization 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, Gov. Robert P. Casey commissioned 50 troopers as the first members of the new Tactical Narcotics Team. The team was assigned a threefold mission: Interdict illegal drug shipments at bus stations, airports and rail terminals; mount undercover investigations targeting street and mid­level dealers; and respond quickly to drug enforcement opportunities.

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System became operational in 1990. The project uses computer technology to read, match, compare, and store fingerprint images. Without AFIS, a manual search of one million fingerprint cards on file would take about 65 years to complete. The same task could be accomplished by AFIS in about 30 minutes. The system is available to all law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania.

Troop Drills were reinstated for members in the field in 1991.  The Department played a key role in the  formation of the Pennsylvania Narcotics Officer Association. State Police Capt. Paul J. Evanko was selected as president.

In June 1992, the Department created the Bureau of Drug Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Emergency and Special Operations.  BESO consolidated the functions of aviation, executive protection, the SERTs, canine unit and underwater search and recovery operations.

State Police opened the first law-enforcement DNA testing laboratory in Greensburg on Sept. 22, 1992. DNA helps link suspects to crimes and helps exonerate individuals wrongly accused of crimes.

State Police unveiled an airborne thermal imaging system on Nov. 15, 1993. Infrared sensors, which are mounted on the bottom of a helicopter, detect heat that is radiated from the outside surface of a person or object and are particularly helpful in locating individuals at night.

In April 1993, Commissioner Glenn A. Walp established 34 full-­time community service officer positions throughout the state.  One of the officers' key responsibilities was presenting educational programs to community groups.

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