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Keathley to retire from Mo. Highway Patrol

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Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
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Col. James Keathley announces his retirement from the Mo. State Highway Patrol.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol today announced he's retiring from the force he's led for more than three years.

Colonel James Keathley has been a member of the Patrol for more than 30 years. He says he's enjoyed the job almost every day, but he became emotional when reflecting on some of the Patrol's tragic moments.

"My wife stood by me during these tough times when we had some bad days, like this (past) Christmas," Keathley said, his voice choked as he fought back tears.

He was referring to the December 25th, 2009, traffic crash in St. Louis County that claimed the life of State Trooper Dennis Engelhard.

Keathley announced his decision during a news conference in Governor Jay Nixon's office at the State Capitol, with his wife and family standing nearby. Keathley's two sons are also State Troopers.

Nixon recalled an incident last year when someone tried to shoot a sheriff's deputy in Osage County and then headed toward Jefferson City on a motorcycle.

"Colonel Keathley was not at headquarters at that time, he was driving, and I know this story to be true: he pulled over, stopped, got his shotgun out of the back of his truck, so that even though he was Colonel of the Highway Patrol, he would be ready for whatever action was necessary...troopers go towards danger, not away from it," Nixon said.

Nixon has not yet chosen a successor, who will also have to be confirmed by the State Senate.

Keathley's retirement becomes official March first, 33 years to the day after he joined the Missouri Highway Patrol.

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