Missouri’s governor warns about shortage of police officers; “Back the Blue” plates unveiled

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Mike Parson

FILE – In this May 29, 2019 file photo, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson addresses the media during a news conference in his Capitol office in Jefferson City, Mo. Missouri’s Republican governor, Parson, is expected to announce that he’s running for a full term in office. Parson has a campaign announcement planned for Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, near his cattle ranch in Bolivar. (Julie Smith/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP File)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) says law enforcement agencies across the state are having a difficult time finding enough officers.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson briefs Capitol reporters on September 13, 2019. (Brian Hauswirth photo)

The governor spoke Friday afternoon at the Statehouse in Jefferson City, telling Capitol reporters it’s a dangerous job.

“If you talk to any county, any city police department, especially St. Louis (and) St. Louis County, you’re hundreds of people short of being able to put them in uniforms,” Parson says. “Simply because people are not wanting to work in that arena.”

Governor Parson says it’s important to “have the officers’ backs,” saying they are the front-line defense for Missourians.

He’s signed legislation into law, that gives Missourians the opportunity to obtain “Back the Blue” license plates. The plate is entirely voluntary.

State Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Public Safety, sponsored the “Back the Blue” bill, which was House bill 898.

Walsh spoke at the recent license plate unveiling ceremony, noting that a $10 donation will be collected from each license plate applicant for the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.

“This will help ensure the memorial that stands behind us (near the Capitol in Jefferson City) continues to stand in memory of Missouri’s fallen law enforcement officers,” says Walsh.

David and Beverly Thomas, the parents of murdered Columbia police officer Molly Bowden, help State Rep. Sara Walsh (left) unveil the “Back the Blue” license plate on September 10, 2019 in Jefferson City (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

The memorial is located on the river side of the Statehouse.

House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-O’Fallon, also spoke at the ceremony. Wiemann is praising the new plates, saying they give residents the opportunity to show support for law enforcement officers. He notes some of his family members are law enforcement officers and first responders.

“This license plate I think will do a lot to help out our men and women in blue, and I’m just honored to be part of this ceremony,” Wiemann says.

Walsh and Wiemann were joined at the ceremony by House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, Missouri Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten, Missouri State Highway Patrol Colonel Eric Olson, Ashland Police Chief Lyn Woolford and several other state lawmakers and law enforcement officers.

Walsh became choked-up during the ceremony when she introduced David and Beverly Thomas of Rocheport. They are the parents of former Columbia Police Officer Molly Bowden, who was killed in the line of duty during a 2005 traffic stop.

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