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New license plate supporting Missouri law enforcement revealed


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri residents have a new way to show support for the state’s law enforcement — with specialty license plates.

The “Back the Blue” plates were shown during an unveiling event Tuesday afternoon at the Law Enforcement Memorial on the state Capitol grounds. The event was led by Republican Rep. Sara Walsh, who championed the law establishing the new plate, with numerous law enforcement officials and legislators in attendance.

While the license plate is meant to show support for police, Walsh also wanted to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty by collecting a $10 donation from applicants to support the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.

“For members of Missouri’s law enforcement community and their families, [this monument] is a special place,” Director of Public Safety Sandy Karsten told the few dozen people gathered at the event. “This memorial serves as a constant reminder of the selfless sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price for protecting our community.” 

Rep. Sara Walsh poses with Dave and Beth Thomas, whose daughter was a police officer killed in the line of duty, at the event (THE MISSOURI TIMES/HUNTER BASSLER).

The new plate’s design contains a blacked out Missouri with a blue line running through, along with the words “BACK THE BLUE” on the bottom edge of the plate. 

The “thin blue line” design, which has fallen under recent national scrutiny, is also used in the Blue Lives Matter movement’s flag. The symbol goes as far back as the 1950s and is used to represent the idea of police being the barrier between order and chaos. To Missouri State Highway Patrol Col. Eric Olson, it’s the dedication officers have to upholding this barrier which makes law enforcement worthy of support.

“Commitment is one of the core values of the Missouri State Highway Patrol,” Olson said. “It’s this core value that drives each member of our team everyday to serve the public.”

Before unveiling the plate’s design, Walsh invited Dave and Beth Thomas to join her at the podium. Dave and Beth are the parents of Molly Thomas Bowden, a Columbia police officer who was fatally shot in 2005.

After the unveiling, Walsh showed her own personal copy of the plate, stating: “Here in Missouri, know that we back the blue.”

Representatives from the Missouri Department of Revenue were available after the event with order forms for the voluntary plates, which can also be purchased through its website. Applicants will pay $15 added on to normal registration costs, along with the contribution towards the memorial fund.