Part 2: Police transparency, PSP complaints report

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Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM)- Every year the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards issues a report giving the public an overview of the complaints made about Pennsylvania State Troopers.

“We track what we have done in the past so we can make improvements in the future,” said Major Joseph Ruggery, Director, Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards.

There are over 4,700 troopers in the commonwealth. In 2019, they had contact with more than 1.9 million Pennsylvanians. Those interactions generated 1,686 complaints.

Citizens filed 637 of those complaints.

“I would say the majority of them would be complaints of rudeness or discourteous behavior,” said Major Ruggery.

Nearly 63 percent of the complaints filed in 2019 were internal. Major Ruggery says internal complaints are higher because supervisors are mandated to report certain incidents like taser deployments or a weapon discharge.

“We are mandated to track those incidents to ensure that the use of force that is being used is the minimal amount that is necessary, to be sure it being done in compliance with our regulations, and in compliance with the law,” said Major Ruggery.

According to the report, the most investigated use of force complaints were the use of physical force (62 complaints) followed by unreasonable force (13 complaints).

In the last three years, 36 biased based profiling complaints were filed. One is still pending. Most were deemed unfounded or not sustained.

“It is a very minute number of those that we see, thankfully, but we look at those as significant in terms of what the public expects of us in terms of our integrity. We have a zero tolerance policy for biased based profiling,” said Major Ruggery.

Of the more than 1600 complaints filed last year, 278 led to an internal investigation and nearly 300 were handled at the supervisor level.

“Late reports, discourtesy to a victim or operator in a motor vehicle crash, something of that nature is best handled through an informal supervisory resolution,” said Major Ruggery.

More serious allegations of misconduct, which could lead to formal discipline if the complaint were sustained, undergo a full internal affairs division investigation.

The report does not include what, if any, disciplinary actions were taken against troopers. Some believe that information should be made public.

According to State Police, since 2016, sixteen enlisted members were terminated from the department. Three resigned in lieu of termination. Currently there are two troopers pending administrative review.

*Click here for Part 1*

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