FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2019
Editor's note: The full, unedited video of the encounter is available for download here.
Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania State Police has concluded its investigation into allegations of bias-based profiling brought by Mr. Rodney Gillespie, related to a traffic stop just before 1:00 a.m. on July 8, 2019.
When a complaint is lodged against a trooper, the department's Internal Affairs Division (IAD) launches an investigation. IAD investigators conduct interviews, gather evidence, and present their findings for adjudication by the troop commander and review by the area commander. The commander of the independent Heritage Affairs Section also opines in all instances alleging bias. The deputy commissioner of administration and professional responsibility reviews the adjudications and makes the final determination on behalf of the department.
The multiple levels of review are in place to ensure determinations are based solely on the specific facts of each case and that the rights of all involved parties are respected. The process is conducted in accordance with department policy, applicable statutes, and the collective bargaining agreement with enlisted members.
The IAD conducts thorough investigations to collect information and evidence related not only to the initial complaint, but also to determine whether department regulations and relevant laws were followed by the member or members involved.
In the matter brought forth by Mr. Gillespie, the complaint of bias-based profiling was not sustained. As depicted in the video, the traffic stop was initiated only after troopers observed a clear violation of the vehicle code when Mr. Gillespie's vehicle failed to maintain its lane of travel, crossing over the center line. Failure to yield to the marked patrol vehicle in a reasonable amount of time after its lights and sirens were activated, or otherwise acknowledge the presence of the troopers, heightened officer safety concerns and resulted in Mr. Gillespie being detained while troopers verified his identity.
Although the allegation of bias-based profiling was not sustained, the IAD investigation did reveal conflicts with state police regulations:
- Activation of personal microphones. In addition to video captured by their vehicles' onboard recording equipment, troopers wear microphones while on patrol. Policy requires these microphones be activated when it is safe and feasible to do so. Audio captured by this equipment often provides vital evidence even when out of camera range. The internal investigation revealed this policy was not consistently followed by all members involved.
- Rules of conduct for employees. While recognizing officer safety concerns existed, adjudicators nonetheless determined the troopers could have more effectively deescalated the situation upon making initial contact with Mr. Gillespie.
"Pennsylvanians expect and deserve the highest level of professionalism in their encounters with the state police, even in potentially inflammatory situations like this one," said Lieutenant Colonel Scott Price, deputy commissioner of administration and professional responsibility. "Department regulations and our organizational culture set high standards, and this instance has provided an opportunity to reinforce with our members the necessity to comport with policy and procedure to ensure public trust and confidence is maintained."
Mobile vehicle recorder (MVR) footage of state police member interactions with the public are routinely reviewed by supervisors, allowing department leadership to evaluate areas in which we can add or re-focus training at both the basic and in-service levels. Discipline for violating department policy is decided on a case-by-case basis and is confidential.
The Pennsylvania State Police takes allegations of member misconduct seriously and is committed to prompt, thorough, and fair investigations. Complaints may be filed at any state police station, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may also be submitted online at psp.pa.gov or by telephone at 866-426-9164.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ryan Tarkowski, 717-783-5556
# # #