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State Highway Patrol looking for feedback

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri State Highway Patrol is asking for feedback with a new survey (that will be available starting July 1) asking Missouri citizens to comment on everything from its officers to crime problems they want addressed and even general safety questions. Why might this be happening?

  • New Leadership: Col. Sandra Karsten became the first woman to become the superintendent of the MSHP when Gov. Eric Greitens (who himself is new to his job) appointed her to the post this year. A longtime veteran of the force who worked her way up from the bottom in the force, this could be a way for her to 1) better connect with the people her department is tasked to protect, and 2) give her a better handle on how the department is perceived by the public.
  • Increased responsibilities: The MSHP is taking part in a pilot program in St. Louis to do more traffic policing in the area’s interstates and freeways to give the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department more resources to deal with violent crime in the area. In the past, Greitens has stated his interest about giving the MSHP an increased role in fighting crime in St. Louis and Kansas City. St. Louis is consistently ranked as one of the most violent areas in the nation, and the ongoing pilot program could be the start of more responsibility for the state’s own police force.
  • Timing: The new survey comes just a few weeks after Attorney General Josh Hawley published the annual vehicle stops report that found black drivers are pulled over at a disproportionate race to drivers of other ethnicities. African Americans amount to around 11 percent of the state’s driving population, but about 18 percent of all traffic stops. While the report does not target the MSHP specifically, the results come at a time when race and policing are national topics of conversation, and in the state where the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson prompted that conversation in the first place.