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 W. 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 Police commissioner is Colonel Frank Pawlowski, who recently replaced Jeffrey B. Miller.
The PSP's duties include patrolling all State highway and federal highways across Pennsylvania, enforcing the overseeing the state's automobile inspection program, enforcing the states commercial vehicle safety regulations, and providing the full range of police protection for municipalities and unincorporated areas 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 sheriff's in Pennsylvania are restricted by tradition to performing court services.
The PSP provides primary service for 27% of the Commonwealths population, accounting for over 60% of the Commonwealth municipalities.
This constitutes 85% of the Commonwealths land area and 66% of the Commonwealths highways. This is accomplished with only 19% of the police officers in the Commonwealth.
The PSP's Bureau of Forensic Services provides forensic crime lab services for criminal investigations. A special unit of the PSP act a 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 September 11, 2001 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.