An interview with Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Tyree C. Blocker

You retired from the Pennsylvania State Police in 2005 after a 20-year career before coming back to lead the agency in 2015. What has changed in that time?

The agency mission hasn’t changed; our role and mandate is still to protect and serve. What has changed is the technology we use as a policing service. We must continue to embrace technology. We need to do that across a vast spectrum of areas, from criminal investigations to forensics to ensuring that we are able to better communicate not just internally but externally with all of our partners in criminal justice.

 

What are some of the challenges currently facing the state police?

We have been assuming duties and responsibilities for municipalities that have done away with their police departments or have trimmed their departments from full time to part time. There are 2,500 municipalities in the commonwealth – the Pennsylvania State Police provides full- or part-time services for 1,500 to 1,600 of those municipalities. We are always challenged to do more with less, to be more efficient in our services, which is where technology comes into play

We must also enhance our recruiting efforts to ensure the Pennsylvania State Police is an attractive organization to prospective applicants. We must ensure that we have the requisite infrastructure in place to attract qualified individuals. What we emphasize here is that policing is about people – we are in the people business. As such, all troopers must possess superior interpersonal skills – it provides the edge to providing quality professional services.

 

What public safety issues will you be focusing on in 2017?

One thing I would encourage is that the motoring public understands the rules of the road and be mindful of how important it is to be respectful of others. With today’s technology, we see a lot of distracted driving, and it is increasingly problematic. We are also working diligently in the area of drug law enforcement. With the increase of heroin and opioid challenges, we spend an awful lot of time focusing on drug law enforcement in the commonwealth.