State Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton) filed a proposal this year to separate the water and state patrols but she says she’ll hold off on filing similar legislation for next session. Governor Jay Nixon (D) and the GOP-controlled legislature approved in 2010 merging the patrols.
“We have the opportunity now, with the end of the Nixon administration and the new administration and there will be a new public safety director, I’m sure, to make the changes that are necessary,” says Franklin.
She says just filing the measure this year helped to motivate the water patrol to improve training measures and increase the number of officers on the water.
“We’ve made a step in the right direction but we really need to go beyond that, whether it be a special division that really has dedicated troopers or marine officers in it,” says Franklin.
A committee chaired by Franklin to investigate the merger of the water and highway patrols will reconvene next year. The committee’s recommendations included additional training and certification of marine and command officers.
“I don’t think we will ever go back to the previous water patrol but we really need to examine what is in place now. There were nine recommendations that we made from the committee and I think we need to follow through on those and we need to improve on those,” says Franklin.
Her committee was formed in the months after an Iowa man drowned in the Lake of the Ozarks while in state patrol custody. Missouri will pay a $9 million settlement to Brandon Ellingson’s family. The Iowa college student drowned in handcuffs while in the custody of a state trooper in 2014.
The legislative session starts January 4.