CRIME

Pennsylvania's top police officer says removing roadside signs criticizing him was a mistake

The acting head of the state police, caught on video taking down two roadside signs critical of him, apologized on Thursday after his actions sparked a misdemeanor theft investigation by local authorities.

The message on the signs about Col. Marcus Brown — "Marcus Brown didn't earn it!" and "Marcus Brown don't wear it!" — revolve around his decision to wear the Pennsylvania State Police uniform, rather than plainclothes, while on the job. Some retired state troopers have publicly criticized Brown for wearing the uniform because he did not attend the State Police Academy or come up through the department's ranks.

Brown, a 25-year law enforcement veteran who still faces a confirmation process in the state Senate, also defended himself, saying his family's privacy had been invaded after he had endured derogatory and public criticism.

"It is one thing to attack me, but it finally culminated with an individual finding out where I live, where my children get on the bus, my route of travel, the time I leave my home, putting up signs attacking me, and recording me from afar," Brown said in a statement. "And yesterday after all of this, I made a mistake and an error in judgment."

He said he acted hastily and that his actions did not reflect well on himself or the state police.

"And I regret that," Brown said. "My family was placed in fear; I reacted as a father to protect my children and my family."

Hampden Township Police Chief Steven Junkin said his department is investigating Brown's removal of the signs from along a road near his neighborhood Wednesday morning.