- Associated Press - Monday, March 23, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Wolf received more pressure Monday to abandon his nominee for state police commissioner after weeks of criticism over Col. Marcus Brown’s decision to wear the troopers’ uniform and an incident in which he removed roadside signs critical of him.

The union that represents Pennsylvania State Police troopers broke its silence and joined Republican senators in asking Wolf to withdraw the nomination of Brown, a former Maryland state police superintendent and a 25-year law enforcement veteran. In response, Wolf issued a statement calling the situation “regrettable,” but did not say whether his support for Brown had changed.

The roadside signs, put up by a retired state trooper, echoed weeks of criticism by numerous retired troopers for Brown’s decision to wear the uniform of the state police, even though he did not graduate from the State Police Academy, as every state trooper must.

“While members of the Pennsylvania State Police may not agree with the decision to put up the signs, Mr. Brown’s actions to remove them showed extremely poor judgment,” Joseph Kovel, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, wrote in a Monday letter to Wolf.

Kovel told Wolf that Brown’s actions were an embarrassment to Wolf’s office, the state police department and rank-and-file troopers who are accustomed to a commissioner being promoted from within. Kovel also raised the issue of the uniform.

“Mr. Brown has said that his decision to wear the Pennsylvania State Police uniform was meant to honor the men and women of the department, but his actions have fallen well short of that statement,” Kovel wrote.

Authorities were investigating the signs’ removal. Police say the signs were put up last week on a roadside near Brown’s suburban Harrisburg neighborhood and that the person who put them up took video of Brown taking them down. A former state police trooper has acknowledged putting up the signs.

The signs declare, “Marcus Brown didn’t earn it!” and “Marcus Brown don’t wear it!”

Brown has apologized, saying that he had made an error in judgment after he felt his family’s privacy had been invaded and endured derogatory and public criticism. Wolf, a Democrat, has maintained that Brown did the right thing by apologizing.

Brown, 50, became acting commissioner in Pennsylvania when Wolf took office in January. Brown served as Maryland’s state police superintendent under former Gov. Martin O’Malley, also a Democrat.

Brown has raised eyebrows among Republican lawmakers over his enforcement of tighter firearms laws in Maryland and a comment following turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri, about the role of police in escalating civil disobedience.

The Pennsylvania State Police is one of the nation’s largest police forces, with about 6,000 troopers and civilian employees and a $1 billion annual budget.

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