Harrisburg — June 8, 2015 – Calling it “’Romper Room’ style politics at its worst,” state Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton/Lehigh) today criticized majority Republicans for their partisan opposition to acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown’s confirmation.  In a largely party line vote, the senate voted against Brown’s confirmation 26 to 22.

“Sadly, meaningful and rational discussion on Marcus Brown’s qualifications has taken a back seat to phony issues, petty jealousies and false accusations,” Boscola said during senate floor remarks.

“Have we sunk that low? Are we really going to carry the water for that state police’s good-old-boys network — who somehow, for some reason, thinks they have the right to pick their own boss?”

Claiming that the blind partisan vote is akin to the worsening kind of polarizing partisanship that has caused so much gridlock in Washington, D.C., Boscola challenged her Republican colleagues to produce “just one significant and substantiated reason why we shouldn’t vote to confirm this nominee.”

She claimed that much of the opposition to Brown stems from his determination to hire more women and minorities to help diversify the state police ranks. The agency was subject to a 1973 consent decree because its hiring practices were deemed racially discriminatory. Since the consent decree was dissolved in the late 1990s, the percentage of women and minorities in the state police has dwindled.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit claiming that the physical fitness tests required of prospective Pennsylvania state troopers discriminate against women. Under the suit, it was determined that 98 percent of men pass the test compared to only 72 percent of female applicants.

“Let’s face it, acting commissioner Brown is more than capable, qualified and credentialed to serve as state police commissioner,” Boscola said. “I can go on and on about his impressive police background and impeccable service record. I can also speak volumes about his determination to honor our state police’s prestigious reputation and tradition of excellence.”

One Republican criticism against Brown stems from an incident earlier this year when he tore down a negative sign about him that was placed near his children’s bus stop. A week later, Brown received a racist note in his mailbox. The Cumberland County District Attorney last month declined to file charges against the sign perpetrator, a retired trooper from western Pennsylvania who was opposed to Brown’s state police nomination.

Calling the retired trooper who erected the illegal lawn sign a “stalker,” Boscola said the incident prompted her to author legislation (Senate Bill 866) that would impose tough penalties against those who target an officer where they live.

Boscola extended her legislation’s protections to military personnel, some who have been subjected to relentless threats from worldwide terrorist organizations such as ISIS.  In March, an ISIS-affiliated group published a “kill list” with the names and home addresses of American soldiers.

Under Senate Bill 866, it would be a third degree misdemeanor to disseminate the address, give directions, or share photographs/video of an officer’s residence without a “legitimate purpose” or the officer’s consent. The prohibition would also apply to electronic and social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Gov. Tom Wolf, who nominated Brown for the post, has vowed that Brown will remain in his capacity as “acting” state police commission indefinitely.

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