Protection from abuse: PA State Police deserve credit, not abuse for their efforts

Columnist : Albert Paschall

I feel like I’m abused almost every day any more. Abused by governments that take my money to give to other people, abused by whiney complaining people who used to make money off the Internet and now have to trade in their luxury cars, abused by those who take a whole agency and shake it down because of the actions of a few.

Abuse in my job is nothing compared to what other people have to put up with.

It’s real abuse when you have to scrape 12 dead people from cars and deal with nearly 300 injured ones in just four days.

It’s real abuse when one of the high notes of your job is to stop speeding cars on lonely highways in the middle of the night and go up to a car that might have 4 armed, drunk or drugged people in it, and ask for their license knowing that any help is at least a half hour away.

It’s real abuse to get called to go to a domestic disturbance off a rural highway knowing you only the call because neighbors heard gunfire.

It’s real abuse to have to push a teenagers’ car off the side of the road from the passing lane in a driving thunderstorm in the middle of the night because its engine quit

That’s the kind of abuse we pay some 4,500 members of the Pennsylvania State Police. From Lake Erie to the Delaware River State Troopers have the responsibility of patrolling most of the state’s 45,000 miles of highway and act as local law enforcement to several hundred rural communities all over the commonwealth.

On Memorial Day Weekend on highways patrolled by the State Police 12 people were killed in car accidents in the state and 272 were injured. The State Troopers got the unenviable job of dealing with the dead and their distraught families.

In addition to the joys of their highway duties the state police actually have criminal jurisdiction over every city, county and municipality in Pennsylvania. It is their responsibility to coordinate police activities when drug runners, murderers and other purveyors of mayhem cross municipal jurisdiction. Its our state troopers who run the largest and most effective anti-drug task forces in the state.

For fun state police officers get to go to shopping malls and parks and teach new parents how to hook up their baby seats safely, and beg people not to drink and drive.

Now that’s an abusive job.

There have been some wild allegations in this state about sexual abuse and predatory practices in the last six years in the Pennsylvania State Police ranks. With one heinous conviction the numbers look like they’re shaping up to be less than 1/10th of 1% of the force. Now it is true that in police ranks any thought of abuse is unacceptable but in some of the published cases bad humor may be just that. Colonel Jeffrey Miller, appointed this year as state police commissioner has vowed to route out abuse and enforce zero tolerance sexual discrimination polices while personally recommending independent review of harassment claims.

He deserves the chance to get that done without being second guessed.

State Trooper’s do get abused. Like the one last Friday night, in the worst thunder storm we’ve seen summer, who pushed my teenaged son’s car off to the shoulder from the passing lane where it had suddenly died. He called for help, made sure help arrive and left the scene before I got there.

Someday I hope I hope I get to thank him. He shouldn’t be abused like that.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.
[email protected]