Democratic governor candidate Chris Koster’s promising higher law enforcement wages and better management of incidents such as the Ferguson shooting.
After gaining the endorsement of the state’s police union, Koster announced Tuesday he’d work to increase officer pay if elected.
While admitting a governor can’t make local salary decisions, he claimed he could bring change by lending vocal support to the issue. “What it is, is a moral spotlight to talk about the need for increased pay across policing in our state” said Koster. “In some communities, we’re giving officers $13.50 an hour, and a gun, and asking them to go cure all the problems of the world. Policing cannot be done on the cheap anymore.”
Koster claims he worked out a program while serving as the Cass County Prosecutor to lift sheriff’s deputies from among the lowest starting salaries in the state, to the highest at over $36,000.
Koster also contends he was the first statewide elected official to be on the scene when turmoil broke loose in Ferguson. He says he’d improve on Governor Nixon’s performance in overseeing the events.
When asked during a news conference Tuesday about a dispute between Governor Nixon and St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch over who should handle investigation and prosecution of the Ferguson shooting case, Koster said he’d consult with all stakeholders and decision makers involved, including McCulloch, before rendering a judgement.
Police union representatives praised Koster for his work as The Cass County Prosecutor and Attorney General, as well as his support for increased pay and officer recruitment. The union, known as the Fraternal Order of Police, unanimously endorsed him for governor at its state conference. Allen Mitchell, president of the union’s Columbia Lodge 26 referred to Koster as a member of the law enforcement family, and said Republican candidate Erik Greitens is “an unknown quantity”.
Greitens is a former Navy Seal who also headed the The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization supporting veterans. A call to a Greitens campaign aide was not returned. Koster and Greitens face each other in November’s governor election.