The ordered release of internal documents dating from 1995 to 2001 at the Pennsylvania State Police Department earlier this month revealed several reported incidents of sexual indiscretions committed by state troopers. The information made public details troopers having sex in police cars and barracks, soliciting sex from prostitutes and informants, watching pornography while on duty, and dropping traffic violations for sex, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. The reports, which name 13 troopers guilty of offenses, are part of a federal civil suit investigation involving former trooper Michael K. Evans, who is currently serving a 5 to 10-year sentence on 11 counts of criminal solicitation, corrupting the morals of a minor, official oppression and indecent assault and exposure, according to the Tribune-Review. In total, of 163 allegations of sexual misconduct filed during 1995 and 2001, 68 were substantiated, leading to the firing of 14 troopers. Plaintiff attorney Thomas Sheridan insists the records indicate a “widespread and longstanding pattern of sexual harassment and misconduct.” He told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I think it demonstrates the fact that the state police don’t take serious allegations of sexual misconduct.”
Law enforcement expert Penny Harrington, the former Chief of the Portland Police Bureau and co-founder of the National Center for Women & Policing (NCWP), a project of the Feminist Majority Foundation, attributes the hostile behavior in part to the paucity of women in law enforcement. Pennsylvania has among the lowest percentage of female state troopers in the US, with only 167 women (4.02 percent) in a force over 4,000-strong. The national average for state police is 6.47 percent, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “As we get more and more women in policing, these kinds of harassment complaints just don’t exist… Just a few women won’t matter. They’re marginalized and isolated,” Harrington said, according to the Inquirer. NCWP co-founder and executive vice president Kathy Spillar said women must account for at least 25 percent in order for the treatment of female troopers within the force to improve dramatically. Pennsylvania state police officials are stepping up efforts to recruit female troopers.