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Pennsylvania's coal fields, iron mills, and timber forests played a vital role in the Industrial Revolution.

Pennsylvania changed in the late 1800's from a largely agricultural state into a complex industrial center.
   First Recruits
By 1900 [the state] found itself torn by bitter disputes between managers and the laborers they employed. Violence became common in the new communities that sprang up around the coal fields, iron mills, textile factories and railroad yards. By the turn of the century it was evident that the town constables, sheriffs and similar local officials, who had been adequate to keep the peace in more stable times were unable to cope with the new populations and the violent labor troubles of the times.

To provide themselves protection that the Commonwealth did not provide, the coal and steel operators persuaded the State Legislature to authorize the creation of what became the infamous Coal and Iron Police. For one dollar each, the state sold to the mine and steel mill owners, commissions conferring police power upon whomever the owners selected.

Through these commissions. armies of guards were raised, ostensibly to protect private property. but actually used to enforce the will of the owners. Often common gunmen, hoodlums, and adventurers were hired to fill these commissions and they served their own interests by causing the violence and terror that gave them office.

The turning point came in 1902 with what became known as The Great Anthracite Strike. It began May 15 and lasted until October 23. The violence disrupted the peace of seven counties and caused a nationwide coal shortage, driving up the price of anthracite coal. The strike did not end until President Theodore Roosevelt intervened. During the strike's aftermath, it was finally recognized that peace and order should be maintained by regularly appointed and responsible officers employed by the public. This led to the formation of the Pennsylvania State Police.

  Governor Samuel
  Whitaker Pennypacker

he Pennsylvania State Police was created as an executive department of state government by legislation, Senate Bill 278, signed into law by Governor Samuel W.
Pennypacker on May 2, 1905. The department became the first uniformed police organization of its kind in the United States and a model for other state police agencies throughout the nation. 

Opposition to the department's creation was strong and persistent. Because of the
fear, mostly by organized labor, that the State Police would be used as a private army. The original complement was limited by law to only 228 men who were to patrol Pennsylvania's entire 45,000 square miles.

The force was divided into four Troops:

Troop A, Greensburg
Troop B, Wilkes-Barre (later moved to Wyoming)
Troop C, Reading
Troop D, Punxsutawney

he State Police soon proved its worth by controlling mob violence, patrolling farm sections, protecting wildlife and tracking down criminals. From the outset, the department established a reputation for fairness, thoroughness and honesty.
On September 2, 1906, the first two State Policemen were killed in the line of duty in Florence, Jefferson County.
Pvt. Francis Zehringer Pvt. John Henry
In 1907, the State Police Superintendent dictated that enlistment's were open only to single men ­ an order that was to remain in effect for 56 years. Also, troop commanders were given authorization to establish and close sub­stations.

In January 1908, the Superintendent established weekly training programs in each troop, a technique that still exists today. On June 1, 1909, Troop C was moved from Reading to Pottsville and also designated as a State Police training school.

In February 1910, the State Police quelled a disorder caused by 6,000 employees of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company. The Philadelphia Ledger identified the source of a State Policeman's power by stating...
" The State Police represent no class or condition, no prejudice or interest, nothing but the sovereign majesty of the law. Hostility to them is hostility to the people."

roop "D" relocated from Punxsutawney to a location near Butler on January 15, 1911. The Superintendent also established two-year enlistment periods. In 1913, the Superintendent established a "Mess Committee" at each Troop and mess facilities were maintained at each Troop Headquarters.

y 1919, the demand for additional State Police units brought about the first increase in complement, authorizing a maximum force of 415 men. That same year saw the transfer of State Fire Marshal duties to the State Police.   

PSP- HEMC is a Non-Profit Organization Committed to Collecting, Preserving and
Exhibiting Significant Historical Documents and Artifacts of the Pennsylvania State Police.

PSP-HEMC™ | 187 Police Academy Drive | Hershey, PA 17033 | Phone: +1 717.534.0565