Remarks by Governor Wolf at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy Graduation Ceremony

September 04, 2015

Bishop McDevitt High School
Hershey, PA

TRANSCRIPT:

Thank you for allowing me to take part in this important ceremony. Like everyone else here today, I am proud to be able to celebrate this great organization. And I’m honored to be able to celebrate with you your graduation from the academy.

But I also want to do two other things. First, I want to celebrate the noble things you will be doing for the citizens of Pennsylvania. But second, I also want to celebrate the things you don’t do.

Let me start with the tribute to your noble actions. You are about to become members of a remarkable force. For 110 years, the PSP has served the needs of Pennsylvania’s citizens in so many ways. Members of the force have kept us safe in our communities. And in our homes. They have protected our families. And they have kept us safe on our highways.

PSP devotes 68% of your resources to “traffic enforcement and other public safety services.” And 32% to criminal investigation and support services. In the course of doing all these things 96 troopers have given up their lives in the line of duty.

At my inauguration, I talked about building a government Pennsylvanians can trust. That means a government made up of public servants who actually serve the public with honor. It means transparency in our government. It means consistently good performance at all levels. And in all areas of government service.

You are on the front lines in this new effort to resurrect our democracy. In your day to day routines you will actually hold the keys to a better political system. Because in many ways, trust in our government begins with the trust our fellow citizens have in each of you.

So I want to make sure you know that there’s a lot riding on your performance. What you do will matter to many people for many years to come.

But while I need to talk about the things that we are counting on you to do for all of us, I want to also talk about the things you and your colleagues will not do. Pennsylvania State Police Troopers perform in a most unusual context. They are a police force operating under the constraints of a functioning democracy. Those constraints are substantial. And they make what you do both more difficult and more noble.

We live in a society that places a huge premium on the rule of law. Ordinary citizens are constrained – as well as liberated – by that rule of law. And so are those – like you – entrusted with the responsibility for maintaining that rule of law.

This seems like such a natural thing to those of us who are fortunate enough to live in a society that promotes freedom. But it is unusual in many parts – in fact most parts – of the world where the security services are given much wider latitude in serving their roles.

You are uniquely constrained by the rules and culture of our society. That is a good thing for all of us. But it does make your work harder. And this is what makes you really unique and special. You serve on the front lines of a legal system that preserves and protects lives and property. But even more important, you are on the front lines of a system that preserves and protects the very freedoms we hold so dear.

Too often you get credit for the former while getting too little credit for the latter. On this very important day of celebration, I want to thank you for volunteering to do what you can to make us not only a safer place but also a freer and fairer one.

Thank you for making the commitment you make for all of us. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thanks you for taking on this fearsome and noble responsibility. And congratulations for doing all the great things you’ve done to bring you to this important day.

We’re all counting on you.

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