Acting state police commissioner calls removing critical signs a mistake

Written by WITF staff report and The Associated Press | Mar 20, 2015 4:42 AM

Photo by CALEA

(Harrisburg) -- The acting head of Pennsylvania's state police says he made a mistake by taking down signs posted by a critic, an action that has sparked a police investigation in Cumberland County.

Colonel Marcus Brown released the statement Thursday. 

Hampden Township police are investigating the sign removal as a misdemeanor theft. 

Brown removed the signs from along a roadway near his neighborhood Wednesday.

The signs' messages revolved around Brown's decision to wear the state police uniform rather than plainclothes, a sore point with some troopers and ex-troopers because Brown didn't come up through the department's ranks. 

He became acting commissioner of the state police when Democratic Governor Tom Wolf took office in January.

Brown says the person who posted the signs, a retired state trooper who spoke anonymously to WHTM-TV, had invaded his family's privacy by putting them by his children's bus stop and recording his actions on video.  

Here's the statement from Brown released by the State Police:

For over 20 years, I have worked in law enforcement, starting as a beat cop and eventually serving as the head of Maryland State Police before having the honor of being appointed to serve as the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. As a long-time law enforcement officer and a long-time resident of Pennsylvania, it is an honor to come home and serve the commonwealth.

My appointment to lead the Pennsylvania State Police has been the greatest honor of my career. The men and women of the Pennsylvania State Police serve the people of our commonwealth with honor and distinction, and it has been my unique privilege to serve with them over the past few months.

Part of the past few months has included criticism over my decisions to wear the uniform of the Pennsylvania State Police. I have always believed that wearing the uniform - as I have throughout my career - conveys respect for my colleagues and helps to represent the State Police in my interactions with the public. The criticism of my decision has included derogatory social media postings and personal attacks. It is one thing to attack me, but it finally culminated with an individual finding out where I live, where my children get on the bus, my route of travel, the time I leave my home, putting up signs attacking me, and recording me from afar.

And yesterday after all of this, I made a mistake and an error in judgment. After seeing the signs and realizing that someone had invaded my family's privacy, I acted hastily without considering my role and the leadership position I hold in the commonwealth. My actions clearly did not reflect well on me or the organization I represent, and I regret that. My family was placed in fear; I reacted as a father to protect my children and my family. Local law enforcement was immediately notified and the signs were turned over to them.

I deeply appreciate the opportunity to lead the Pennsylvania State Police. There is quite simply no greater honor.

I am sorry that my action has distracted from the critical mission that all of our troopers and civilians undertake each day.

I will work every single day to affirm the reputation I have built over the course of my career. I will continue to work toward increasing diversity, obtaining funding for additional cadet classes and fighting the heroin epidemic that is plaguing so many of our communities. I will carry myself with integrity and with honor - as I have throughout my 20 year law enforcement career.

It is an honor and a privilege to lead the Pennsylvania State Police. I will not forget that, and I will work every day to make my colleagues, the people of Pennsylvania, and my family proud of my leadership, actions, and integrity.

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