Rendell makes selection for state police commissioner

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov.-elect Ed Rendell on Thursday tapped an 18-year veteran of the state police to command the agency.
Maj. Jeffrey B. Miller, 39, currently the state police director of legislative affairs, was nominated to the position of state police commissioner.
If confirmed by the Senate, Miller will command 4,275 enlisted troopers and 1,624 civilian employees responsible for primary police coverage for about 85 percent of the state’s territory. The department has an annual budget of $632 million.
The agency’s main duties are to provide police services for municipalities that do not have their own police departments and to patrol interstate highways. The state police also provide specialized help, such as laboratory services and investigative assistance, for all law enforcement agencies in the state.
Miller would replace Col. Paul J. Evanko, who served for eight years as police commissioner under former Gov. Tom Ridge and Gov. Mark S. Schweiker. Evanko plans to retire when his term expires Jan. 21, the day Rendell is sworn into office.
“Jeff brings vision and administrative know-how to the state police at a time when I will be asking them to do more than ever to protect people in our communities throughout Pennsylvania,” Rendell said in a statement. “Achieving that goal will take a strong leader who is willing to innovate and bring about positive change.”
The Harrisburg native, who will make about $109,000 a year if confirmed, said his top priority will be the homeland security efforts started under the Schweiker administration and continuing under Rendell.
“I would like to see us continue to build out our homeland security initiative so that we can better mesh and integrate with our partners, our sister state agencies … as well as the municipal police agencies that we work very closely with and the governor’s Office of Homeland Security,” Miller said. “There has to be a better integration of the intelligence information that we receive, how we disseminate that information and the preparations we make as an agency with regard to our emergency response.”
Miller said he planned to continue with a technology effort that puts computers in patrol cars in order to reduce troopers’ paperwork time and keep them on the street longer.
He also wants to implement a system similar to one operating in New York City, in which decision-making power is given to the lowest level of street commanders who are in turn held responsible for measurable results in the reduction of crime.
“My job is to provide direction for the department,” Miller said. “My job is to ensure that we are all on the same page and that we’re working very hard to achieve measurable success.”
Miller is a former station commander in the central Pennsylvania communities of Schuylkill Haven and Harrisburg and a former commander of criminal investigations in Philadelphia. He received letters of recommendation from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as from House Republican Leader John M. Perzel of Philadelphia and Rep. Mike Veon, the Democratic whip.
Perzel said Miller had “well-rounded experience in all state police operations, including patrol, criminal, investigation, procurement, personnel and policy functions.”
Larry Frankel, the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pennsylvania chapter, said he found Miller reasonable to work with. He also said Miller was willing to look into one of the ACLU’s biggest issues with the state police — racial profiling, the alleged singling out of minority drivers for traffic stops and drug searches.
“When we had our differences, we could talk about it and we could work up a compromise,” Frankel said.