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Nixon signs bill merging Mo. Highway and Water patrols

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
Gov. Jay Nixon signs copies of a bill merging the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Mo. State Water Patrol at a ceremony at the Lake of the Ozarks.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – Governor Jay Nixon has signed legislation merging the Missouri State Water Patrol with the Highway Patrol.

The merger of the two law enforcement agencies is expected to save the state about $2.8 million a year. Ten administrative and clerical positions within the Water Patrol are being eliminated, but there will be no reduction in badge officers or boat maintenance staff.

Major Tommy Roam will head the new Division of Water Patrol within the Highway Patrol.

"We're gonna have a lot of back-up that we never had before," Roam said. "We're gonna have a little bit of opportunity...we'll have broader opportunities for promotion."

The bill came out of several proposals this year to consolidate various agencies of state government, but was one of only a few to pass. There have been concerns that the merger could deprive some officers of overtime pay and that local sheriffs would see heavier caseloads.

Craig Guthrie is one of more than 90 Water Patrol officers who'll soon be exchanging a khaki uniform for a blue one.

"(It's) really not gonna change the way I do my job much, I mean, I'm still gonna be a Water Patrolman, be out on the water, working the waterways," Guthrie said. "I think in the winter months, we're gonna probably be helping out a little bit on the highways when they need us, but I don't think it's gonna change my job much (or) the way I do things."

The merger takes effect January 1st.


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