Maj. Ronald ReplogleThe Highway Patrol leadership change begins. Maj. Ronald Replogle is the new head of the Missouri Highway Patrol. He says he’s worked under Colonel James Keathley for several years.

Replogle says he doesn’t think the patrol will notice a big change after the transition in leadership because he supports many of the successful programs Col. James Keathley put into place. One such success he noted is the reduction in traffic fatalities. Missouri has hit a low not seen for decades. Both he and Keathley attribute the reduction to strengthened enforcement in drinking and driving as well as public awareness campaigns.

However, Replogle says accidents due to inattention — namely because people are texting while driving — is a new challenge the patrol is facing.

Replogle is a 26-year veteran with the patrol, including extensive work with the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who appointed him as superintendent Monday, lauded his 26 years of service and says he’s “tough and smart.”

“Ron Replogle is the right person for this position of great responsibility,” Nixon said. “He has shown that he is tough and smart, two qualities vital to leading a statewide law enforcement agency of 2,200 men and women charged with protecting 5.9 million Missourians. Major Replogle has demonstrated his ability to work in sync with local law enforcement agencies in fighting crime, and that also is one of the reasons I’ve selected him to be the next Highway Patrol superintendent. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is nationally regarded as one of the country’s finest law enforcement agencies, and officers like Ron Replogle are the reason why.”

Replogle’s bio:

Replogle, age 49, joined the Highway Patrol in 1984 after graduating second in his class from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Academy. Starting out as a trooper in field operations, he rose through the ranks to become director of the Division of Drug and Crime Control in 2001 and then commander of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in 2006. His service also includes more than three years as an investigator and assistant director with the Professional Standards Division.

As commander of the Criminal Investigation Bureau and director of the Division of Drug and Crime Control, he has worked closely with numerous federal agencies on homeland security and has participated in national and international training on counterterrorism.

Replogle is a native of Marshfield; he and his wife, Cindy, have two sons. His appointment now moves to the Missouri Senate for confirmation.

Looking back on Keathley’s service, Nixon says, “Missourians also owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Keathley not only for his service as superintendent of the Patrol, but also for his dedication during 33 years of wearing the uniform of the Missouri State Highway Patrol with great honor.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has received several prestigious designations reserved for the nation’s top law enforcement agencies, including being recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) as a Flagship Agency. That designation acknowledges the achievement and expertise of select law enforcement agencies which provide “flagship examples” to assist other agencies. The Highway Patrol has been accredited by CALEA since 1992, and also has received the Meritorious Award, reserved for agencies that have been accredited for 15 or more continuous years by CALEA.

The patrol includes more than 1,000 troopers and an additional 1,200 support staff. The Highway Patrol is divided into nine troops, with troop headquarters located around the state. Created by state law in 1931, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has evolved from a highway patrolling force to a full-service, accredited law enforcement agency.

While enforcing traffic laws and promoting safety on Missouri’s 33,000 miles of state-maintained highways remains the Patrol’s primary responsibility, the Patrol has been tasked by the Governor and the legislature with many additional law enforcement duties including: homeland security, motor vehicle inspection, commercial vehicle enforcement, driver’s license examinations, criminal investigations, criminal laboratory analysis and research, public education, gaming enforcement and law enforcement training.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen, Mp3]

Interview with Replogle [Download / listen, 6:16]