Senate OKs Shapiro picks for attorney general, police chief

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s nominees for attorney general and state police commissioner won unanimous approval from Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday — a smooth landing for his top two public safety appointees.

Michelle Henry, a career prosecutor from Bucks County and a top deputy at the attorney general’s office, will fill the last two years of Shapiro’s elected four-year term as attorney general.

Col. Christopher Paris, a lawyer and career state police trooper, has been tapped to lead one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.

Henry, 54, worked closely alongside Shapiro for all six years while he served as attorney general before he tapped her to succeed him when he was sworn in as governor in January.

Henry told a state Senate committee that she does not plan to run for the office when voters select a new attorney general in the 2024 general election.

As an assistant district attorney in Bucks County, Henry handled some of the county’s highest-profile crimes, including murder cases.

In 2016, she took on the role of lead prosecutor in Montgomery County when the district attorney’s office there successfully tried then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane on charges of leaking protected investigative information and lying about it under oath.

Paris, 46, rose through the ranks of the state police in northeastern Pennsylvania to become one of four area operations commanders.

In 2014, Paris was in charge of the Blooming Grove barracks when a man, Eric Frein, shot and killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and gravely wounded Trooper Alex Douglass. Frein was captured after a 48-day manhunt across northeastern Pennsylvania, convicted and sentenced to death.

With a complement of about 4,740 troopers, 1,720 civilian employees and a $1.5 billion budget, the Pennsylvania State Police is also one of the largest agencies in state government.

Troopers patrol 44,000 miles (about 70,800 kilometers) of highway and are the primary police protection for about a quarter of the state’s population. The agency also provides lab services, emergency response, helicopters and bomb squad expertise to local police departments.

Paris replaced Col. Robert Evanchick, a career state police trooper picked in 2018 by then-Gov. Tom Wolf to head the police force.

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