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Fraternal Order of Police endorses Koster

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster officially received the endorsement of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police (MFOP) Tuesday. He toured the state to tout their support with leaders from the 6,500-member strong organization. Koster hit stops in Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and St. Louis.

In Columbia, Koster said the endorsement was as personal as it was political given his history in law enforcement.

“I have had a badge in my back pocket for 18 of the last 22 years, first as prosecuting attorney and now eight years as attorney general. And that is the reason I think this endorsement is so meaningful to me.”

Koster spoke at length about his desires to bolster law enforcement through various means. He endorsed recruiting more young people (especially minorities) into the law enforcement profession, establishing gun courts in Kansas City and St. Louis to crackdown on those who commit armed offenses, and encouraging an increase in officer pay. He also wanted to ensure the police that they have the full backing of the state government in what he called “a challenging time for law enforcement.”

The attorney general pointed to the shootings of police officers in Dallas, Ballwin and Kansas City, Kansas to underscore the threat officers face on the force. He offered strong words for people who committed such crimes.

“Anyone who would shoot at an officer is a domestic terrorist,” Koster said. “Anyone who supports or cheers for or has a warm spot in their hearts for such a person is themselves an enemy of civil society.”

Rick Inglima, the president of MFOP, said that Koster would support the organization as governor not only from a law enforcement perspective, but from a labor perspective. The MFOP doubles as the primary collective bargaining force for police around the state.

“He understands both police and the middle class need to have our rights protected in the workplace,” Inglima said.

Koster responds to Ferguson criticism

The four Republican gubernatorial candidates adopted tough-on-crime positions. They said that the Ferguson protests and riots would not have happened under their watches.  Even before he won the primary, Eric Greitens argued on the campaign trail that he would have had peace by second night.

Koster explained Tuesday that the situation on the ground was “chaotic” and shifting dramatically over the manner of hours. He argued the ever-changing scenario made it difficult to ascertain the correct course of action.

Mostly, Koster chastised Greitens for his “political rhetoric.”

“This was a shifting situation that was very, very difficult,” he said. “I think it is in line with many other, in my opinion, self-serving and relatively arrogant statements he has made that he alone would have walked on water and solved this situation in two days.

“These types of comments certainly cast a high praise on his abilities that probably transcends any logic or reason.”

Detective Joe Patterson, the president of the St. Louis County Police Association, spoke in favor of Koster’s record on the ground at Ferguson. He noted that Koster was the first statewide officer on the scene coordinating with commanders. He said that given the circumstances, making the right decisions didn’t necessarily come easily.

“I don’t think he was perfect during this incident, I don’t think I personally was perfect during this incident, I would argue that probably any police officer there would acknowledge and respect the fact that we all learned and grew from that,” Patterson said. “I would argue feverishly that we got better and better with time.”

With the backing of the state’s largest law enforcement collective, Koster continues to add to a growing list of popular state interests that would like to see him in the Governor’s Mansion next January.