HARRISBURG, Pa. — 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 were confirmed as commissioner.
Blocker, who is black, said the recruitment program could be a key to attracting more minority candidates and women — a goal expressed by the Democratic governor and many legislators.
Currently, 258, or 6 percent, of the 4,322 troopers are from minority groups, 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.
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. Brown’s nomination was rejected in June by the Senate Republican majority on a nearly straight party-line vote.
He remains acting commissioner and has said he would stay on to help with his successor’s transition.