ST. LOUIS — When Brad Thielemier talks about the Missouri State Troopers Association, he will frequently say the word, “proud.” Thielemier has been the director of governmental affairs for the association since November 2001.
When he first took the position with the Missouri State Troopers Association, Thielemier said he gained a lot of knowledge about law enforcement and the highway patrol.
Thielemier was surrounded by state politics since moving to Jefferson City at the age of 11, moving from southern Cape Girardeau where he was born.
He lived across the street from former Attorney General Bill Webster and was childhood friends with former Missouri State Auditor Margaret Kelly’s son, John. Although Thielemier said he was more concerned with sports and simply “being a teenager” while growing up, he still had an interest and appreciation for the Capitol’s history and Missouri politics.
He first attended college at Southeast Missouri State University studying archeology. He switched his major to history and political science and transferred to Columbia College. During 1997, he interned with former Speaker of the House Garcia Backer. He then acted as a consultant for former Gov. Bob Holden’s campaign. He had a stint as a fundraiser in Alabama then again worked for Holden as a legislative liaison. The experiences then brought him to the Missouri State Troopers Association.
Even with 12 years at the association, Thielemier said he still learns something new every day.
“There’s always something new to learn in the legislative process,” Thielemier said. “The challenge [early on] was just learning that process and getting to know the people.”
Thielemier said he encourages the state troopers to build relationships with legislators and is proud of those relationships on a statewide and local level.
“The lesson I try to live by now is remembering all politics is local,” Thielemier said. “I try to stress that to all our troopers for them to get to know their representatives. Their representatives want to hear from them as their constituents.”
There’s another important lesson Thielemeier said he tries to live by.
“Your word and your reputation are your two most important things at the Capitol,” Thielemier said.
Looking back as his work with the Missouri State Troopers Association, there are two successes he is particularly proud of and have improved living conditions and safety of the troopers.
During the early 2000s, Thielemier said, troopers had not received a significant pay increase since the 80s. This caused the “best and brightest” of the troopers to find other employment opportunities, he said.
Through working with the legislature and Gov. Holden at the time, troopers received more than $20 million in pay increases.
Then, after troopers were killed after being hit by a vehicle, “move to the left” legislation was passed. When a trooper, police officer or person is pulled over on the side of the highway, people switch into the inside lanes.
“Driving down the highway you see people doing that now and I’m just proud to be a small part of that,” Thielemeier said.
Thielemeier said that bipartisan support has been key to the Missouri State Troopers Association.
“Our motto is we’re not a Republican highway patrol. We’re not a Democrat highway patrol. We are the Missouri State Highway Patrol. So, we are bipartisan,” Thielemeier said. “We support those legislators who support us and there are many.”
Thielemier said he and the association will continue to dedicate themselves to monitoring legislation related to public safety and the people he represents in a dangerous profession.
“The sacrifice they’re willing to make every day and put on that uniform on for the citizens of Missouri and what they have to face every time they make a stop, every time they go into a dangerous situation,” Thielemier said. “I think it takes a special person to be a law enforcement officer, a highway patrol officer because they provide the citizens of Missouri. It makes me feel honored.”
Brittany Ruess was a reporter for The Missouri Times and the SEMO Times, and a graduate of Webster University.