Writer wants highway put back into MSHP
October 21, 2007
The JI received anonymous comments postmarked "Cape Girardeau, MO" in which the writer attempts to quote Col. James F. Keathley's September 2006 acceptance speech after being named head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) by Gov. Matt Blunt. The writer calls attention to Keathley's comments regarding the agency's strategies for safeguarding Missouri's "32,000 miles of roadways and bridges." He then criticizes the patrol's connection to the Missouri Gaming Commission.

The writer, stressing the word "highway," asks:

How and why would the Missouri State Highway Patrol allow the Missouri State Gaming Commission to remove Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers from highway duty to be sent to work on gambling casinos throughout the state as security guards??? Why do they not hire their own security guards like other states???.....

In response we offer the following statement from the patrol:

Since 1931, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has been charged with many different functions outside its original mission of traffic enforcement and highway safety. In 1994, the Gaming Division was formed. The division has grown to an authorized strength of 110 members. Gaming Division responsibilities now include regulatory and criminal law enforcement in Missouri casinos, background investigations, and charitable games enforcement. During the last fiscal year, troopers assigned to the Gaming Division filed 1,244 criminal charges ranging from drug violations to gambling violations, assault, stealing, and kidnapping. In addition, troopers investigated hundreds of regulatory violations and enforced hundreds of compliance directives. The Patrol’s involvement in gaming enforcement and industry compliance is essential to maintaining the public trust. In addition, the Patrol’s presence ensures the state receives its legally authorized share of tax revenues. The Patrol’s involvement in riverboat gaming is one more function we have been empowered to police.

We can only surmise as to why the writer saw fit to remain anonymous. While we discourage this practice, we thought his comments were interesting enough to share. An anonymous tip is sometimes better than no tip at all. And, afterall, our mission is in part to encourage free thinking. You be the judge of the merits of the writer's argument.

Before making the comment that legislators should "take a stand and force a change in this procedure of taking experienced Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers off the road," the writer questions an alleged statement by Keathley that "The highway patrol's budget is primarily from the highway fund" and that he pledges to Missourians "that the highway patrol will show accountability when planning for and spending these precious tax dollars."

He or she concludes with this question, "How many troopers do you see when you travel Missouri highways???"

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