Highway Patrol officers move around our fair state……alot. While it is possible to come out of our academy and be assigned to a town or locale where you remain for your entire career, such is usually not the case. Consequently, a majority of troopers relocate from town to town, and in some cases from one region to another. To us, the regions are Troops, and Missouri is divided into nine Troops, each with a unique geographical and demographic flavor. I can happily report that I enjoyed each and every assignment and made many friends in each of the five towns that we were assigned to.
I began my career in Odessa, a diverse and fast paced little town on I-70, just east of Kansas City. The people loved their troopers. The interstate became the center of your attention, however; Lafayette County is a big county and we were busy…..The western side of the county was populated with a number of commuters to metropolitan Kansas City, although the county was primarily agricultural in nature. We enjoyed a close relationship with every police department in the county and an especially close relationship with the sheriff, one Gene Darnell, a colorful and artful sheriff, himself a graduate of the FBI National Academy. New troopers never forget their zone mates and ours was a unique collection of well led, seasoned officers.
My next assignment was Harrisonville. It shared many of the characteristics of Lafayette County, close proximity to Kansas City, a busy highway intersecting the county (now I-49), and a rich law enforcement history. It was here that I developed a close relationship with Homer Foote Jr., the sheriff. Homer, who cut his teeth as a Kansas City police officer, was an affable fellow who I would suggest was very hard to fool. He didn’t suffer bad guys with patience, and the tender, loving environment we seem to be facilitating these days, was not in his bag of tricks.
My next stop was the iconic town of St. Joseph, perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Missouri. While it, too, had a fair share of commuters to Kansas City, and was bisected by I-29, it was big enough to enjoy many home grown industries. While we made many friends here, the size of the town and the nature of my assignment which had morphed into an administrative function, precluded my familiarity with many of the law enforcement operatives at the street level. I do recall, however; that St. Joseph was perhaps the coldest city that I have ever lived in…..or ever will live in! Their winters were professional winters…..
My next assignment was Springfield, the Queen city. We loved Springfield and professionally, it was my favorite career stop. In tomorrow’s blog, I will detail the reasons we so enjoyed Springfield and have returned to this historically rich and great community, perhaps the last stop for us as we slowly abandon our nomadic lifestyle.
After Springfield, I was assigned to GHQ (Headquarters) in Jefferson City, Missouri. Headquarters, for me, was a mixed bag. I enjoyed working, at the staff level, for one of the best police administrators this state has ever produced, and was introduced to an interesting and entirely competent staff of peers. I also quickly learned that a police headquarters required careful navigation on a daily basis, as the environment fairly seethed with ambition and doppleganging. I can sum up my stint in GHQ by suggesting that if as much energy was expended in the furtherance of the organization as was expended in the furtherance of individual careers, the organization would have benefitted exponentially. This in spite of a number of dedicated professionals at every level who got the job done on a daily basis. I suspect the proximity to the political climate present in every capitol city contributed to the GHQ environment.
We are back home! It is easy to see why this community enjoys the reputation that it does…….Tomorrow, I’ll share our perspectives…