Michelle Henry will serve as the state’s Attorney General, finishing out Shapiro’s four-year elected term, and Christopher Paris will oversee the Pennsylvania State Police.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s nominees for attorney general and state police commissioner were unanimously approved by Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday.
Michelle Henry was approved to fill the last two years of Shapiro’s elected four-year term as attorney general and Col. Christopher Paris was confirmed to lead the state police, one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.
Henry, a Republican, served in the Bucks County District Attorney’s office for more than 20 years and was first deputy attorney general under Shapiro when he served as the attorney general. She said she does not plan to run for the office when the term is up for election in 2024.
The Attorney General is the state’s top law enforcement officer and leads a staff of several hundred prosecutors, attorneys, investigators, agents, and support staff in offices across the state.
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.
“Michelle Henry has the experience, talent, and dedication to the pursuit of justice that Pennsylvania needs in the Attorney General’s office – and that’s why I nominated her to serve out the remainder of my term,” Shapiro said. “By confirming her nomination, the Senate has guaranteed that Pennsylvanians have an Attorney General who will fight for them.”
Paris, 46, currently serves as the acting commissioner for the state police, replacing Col. Robert Evanchick, a career state police trooper picked in 2018 by then-Gov. Tom Wolf to head the force. As commissioner, Paris will oversee a $1.5 billion budget and almost 5,000 troopers.
Troopers patrol 44,000 miles 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 enlisted in the state police in 1999 and rose through the ranks in northeastern Pennsylvania to become one of four area operations commanders.
In 2014, Paris was in charge of the Blooming Grove barracks when Eric Frein shot and killed Cpl. Bryon Dickson and gravely wounded Trooper Alex Douglass. Frein was captured after a 48-day manhunt across the northeastern part of the state, convicted and sentenced to death.
“Col. Christopher Paris is an exemplary public servant who understands the importance of having well-funded and properly trained law enforcement and state troopers,” Shapiro said in a post on Twitter. “I couldn’t think of anyone more qualified to serve as Pennsylvania State Commissioner.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.