Tyree C. Blocker

Tyree C. Blocker, 62, is Gov. Tom Wolf's nominee to head the Pennsylvania State Police.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s nominee for state police commissioner is a former commander of the troop that covers Lancaster County.

Tyree C. Blocker became the head of Troop J in February 1990 at age 37. He was the troop’s first black commander.

He served until 1996, when he was promoted to major — two steps below commissioner — and named director of the state police’s drug law enforcement.

Troop J patrols Lancaster and Chester counties and is headquartered on Lincoln Highway East in East Lampeter Township.

Wolf announced Monday he had chosen Maj. Blocker, now 62, to lead the state police after the Senate rejected his first choice, former Maryland state police commissioner Marcus Brown.

In a statement, Wolf cited Blocker’s experience in drug law enforcement and in criminal investigations.

“Maj. Blocker will build on the strong foundation of the traditions and culture of the Pennsylvania State Police while also looking for opportunities to ensure that the force reflects the diversity of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

In a 1990 interview with LNP, Blocker said he felt the state police “offered diversity and tremendous opportunities for me.”

He said it was important to him to be in a career that involves serving others.

In a 1991 interview, Blocker commented on then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, whom Blocker knew when they were students at the College of the Holy Cross in the 1970s.

Thomas was a senior when Blocker, who grew up in North Philadelphia, arrived as a freshman on a football scholarship. Blocker said Thomas “was the individual who provided direction for minority students” and that the older student helped him feel at home.

He praised Thomas’ “common sense and insight” and said the court “would certainly benefit from his background, leadership, intelligence and sense of humor.”

Thomas is one of the court’s most conservative members, but Blocker said the future justice “showed no particular political ideology” in college.

Blocker retired from the state police in 2005, according to the governor’s office.

Subsequently, he worked as an adviser to the police of Trinidad and Tobago and then as an adviser to the minister of national security for the Trinidad and Tobago government.

He lives in Chester County with his wife, Janice.

In June, Senate Republicans rejected Wolf’s nomination of Brown to serve as police commissioner, with some senators saying they had questions about his background and judgment.

Brown initially attracted criticism for wearing the state police uniform despite not having graduated from the force’s academy.

The president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, which had opposed Brown’s nomination, said in a statement: “We congratulate Maj. Blocker. We look forward to working with Maj. Blocker on the critical issues facing our department and the 12 million citizens we serve.”

This article incorporates wire service copy from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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