Gov. Tom Wolf's new nominee to lead the Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday that he sees room for improvement in the diversity of troopers and that better recruiting practices could help.
Tyree C. Blocker, a 30-year veteran of the agency, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he's still catching up on changes in the department since he retired 10 years ago with the rank of major. He declined to discuss what, if any, changes he would propose if he is confirmed as commissioner.
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But Blocker, who is black, said its recruitment program could be a key to attracting more minorities and women — a goal expressed by the Democratic governor and many legislators.
Currently, racial minorities account for 258, or 6 percent, of the 4,322 troopers, said Trooper Adam Reed, the agency's public information coordinator. Only 144 troopers, or 3 percent, are black.
"When you look at the numbers, you see that there's room for improvement," Blocker said.
Among Pennsylvania's 12.7 million residents, 81.9 percent were white and 10.8 percent were black, according to the 2010 census.
On another topic, Blocker declined to say whether he thinks Pennsylvania's gun laws should be changed. He said it is the job of the state police to enforce laws, not make them.
Blocker, 62, who holds a master's degree in criminal justice from West Chester University, is Wolf's second nominee as commissioner.
The original nominee was Marcus Brown, a former Maryland State Police superintendent and high-ranking officer in the Baltimore Police Department. He remains acting commissioner and has said he would stay on to help with his successor's transition. Brown's nomination was rejected in June by the Senate Republican majority on a nearly straight party-line vote.