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Politics & Government

Senate Democrat Backs Top Cop, Slams Racist Letter

A Democratic state senator says a racist, anonymous letter sent to the Cumberland County home of the acting State Police commissioner raises troubling questions.

Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) is denouncing a letter sent to Acting Commissioner Marcus Brown that used a racial slur and referred to his decision to wear the Pennsylvania State Police uniform. The letter was delivered to Brown's mailbox Monday evening.

"What was in that document is reprehensible and does not represent where we need to be going in the 21st century," said Hughes. He also called for Brown's confirmation before the state Senate, which signs off on the governor's cabinet picks.

"I hope that we will have enough senators — Democrat and Republican senators — to stand behind him," Hughes said, "because standing behind him is not just about him now. It has become more about the principles that we should be about in this state."

Republicans who control the Senate have signaled Brown might not pass a confirmation vote.

Brown has been taking heat from active and retired troopers for sporting a state police uniform despite never attending the state police academy. Last week, he removed two yard signs in his neighborhood criticizing him for the decision. Senate GOP leaders said the move showed poor judgment, and they asked the governor to pull Brown's nomination. Wolf refused. The Cumberland County district attorney has taken over an investigation into the removal of the signs.

Brown has also said he wants to increase the state police's racial diversity.

Hughes pointed out that about 15 years ago, the Pennsylvania State Police was placed temporarily under federal monitoring to increase its minority workforce to 20 percent. Right now, 6 percent of the force is black, Latino or Asian, according to figures from the state police.

People of African-American, Latino and Asian descent make up almost 21 percent of Pennsylvania's population in 2013, according to the most recent U.S. Census figures available.