Gentleman Trooper: How John C. Groome Shaped America’s First State Police Force


In 1905, Pennsylvania became the first state to field a state police force. The job of organizing, manning and training the new force was given to John C. Groome. Groome had no experience in police work but he had led a National Guard troop when it settled riots and other disturbances in Pennsylvania. And, he had a reputation for probity and refusing to submit to political interference. He told every recruit that their collective goal was to make the state police force “the finest thing in the world.” What he ended up with won accolades from the likes of Theodore Roosevelt. Right after World War I, Groome, an Army colonel, was recruited by Herbert Hoover to oversee the distribution of desperately needed food and clothing to war refugees in Europe’s three Baltic states, saving millions of lives. The last major chapter in Groome’s life of service was as warden of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. He took a dirty, foul-smelling prison of almost 1,400 idle inmates—rife with smuggled liquor and drugs, notoriously bad food and corrupt guards—and turned around virtually every aspect of its existence.

Author Harry Toland had a forty-two year career in journalism, thirty-one of those years at the Philadelphia Bulletin as reporter, writer, columnist, and editor. He has written three other books.

Harry G. Toland

2007, 5½x8½, paper, index, 122 pp.

ISBN: 9780788443404