In the wake of his first nominee Marcus Brown being forced to resign in June following police union objections and the senate’s refusal to approve the nomination, Gov. Tom Wolf has nominated retired Major Tyree C. Blocker to serve as commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, in which he served for 30 years.
“Major Blocker has deep knowledge in the areas of patrol and criminal investigation as well as staff services and administration,” said Wolf in his press announcement. “He also brings tremendous leadership capabilities and a history of working collaboratively with law enforcement officials at all levels.”
Blocker, 62, began his career as a trooper in 1975, working in patrol, criminal investigation, staff services, organized crime and the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He worked his way through the ranks and retired as a major in 2005. In that capacity, Blocker oversaw investigative, patrol and administrative operations for three troops, comprised of 750 troopers at 13 locations across 10 counties.
“Major Blocker has an extensive background in drug law enforcement, which will be an asset in helping the State Police stop high-level drug trafficking organizations that prey on our communities and citizens and seek to perpetuate the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania,” said Wolf.
“His strong career experience will allow him to step into the role of commissioner and lead the men and women of the Pennsylvania State Police.”
During his tenure, Blocker helped develop and implement creative law enforcement strategies in response to local government requests for state police assistance in high crime areas and a record of working cooperatively with a variety of law enforcement administrators.
Blocker told the New Pittsburgh Courier he is very excited about returning to the organization he spent half his life serving, and very grateful to the governor for giving him the opportunity.
“This is an organization I care deeply about and I believe in its principles and its members, and I know it is committed to public service,” he said. “I’m committed to ensuring that State Police has infrastructure or policing the future, 21st century policing.
“That starts with having a long term recruiting and retention program that would be very inclusive, and would maintain an open dialog with all communities in Pa., and seeing that all troopers are highly trained and have good interpersonal skills and can embrace 21st century technology.”
Blocker isn’t the first African American commissioner, but he counts the first commissioner, the late Ronald M. Sharpe as a mentor.
“He was the first, and he was a trailblazer, and a mentor,” said. Blocker. “I had a great deal of respect for him because of his level of commitment to inclusion.”
Blocker said the state police can improve in terms of diversity, and part of his long-range recruiting plan is selling the organization to African American candidates.
“There’s room for improvement in a number of recruitment areas and the governor is committed to seeing we have the resources to get the positive message out about employment opportunities throughout all 67 counties,” he said.
Blocker has spent much of the last decade working as a consultant. He served as a technical adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and also as an advisor to the island government’s minister of national security. Blocker also served as president of Silver Seals Consulting and currently owns Future Gem Fitness Corporation.
Pending senate confirmation, Blocker would become the seventh high-ranking African American working in Wolf’s administration, joining General Counsel Denise Smyler, Inspector General Grayling Williams, Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff Obie Kernodle, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Community and Economic Development Joe Meade, Department of Health Deputy Secretary Corey Coleman, and Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, the only hold-over from the previous administration.
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