City of St. Louis says requests for help from highway patrol go unanswered, MSHP says that’s not true

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:57 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The City of St. Louis and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are at odds over requests for help along interstates within the city, as city officials work to combat ongoing crime.

On Jan. 24, outgoing Interim Director of Public Safety Dr. Dan Isom said recent pleas from the city to MSHP for help patrolling have gone unanswered.

“They have not done so. They have all the authority come in, last I checked, state highways in the city are still state highways,” he said. “We have repeatedly, the mayor, the mayor’s chief of staff, and I have asked the highway patrol to come in and patrol the city highways, 44, 64, 55 and 70. So the Highway Patrol, in my opinion, has an obligation to patrol every highway in Missouri, and that includes highways within the city of St. Louis.”

Missouri State Highway Patrol, along with Governor Mike Parson’s office, disputes that claim, stating state troopers have responded to the city’s requests for assistance.

MSHP sent the following statement to News 4:

“In the recent past, the Highway Patrol has assisted the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department , which has primary jurisdiction for law enforcement services in the city. These efforts, which strain the Patrol’s limited resources, were predicated on defined objectives and the availability of Patrol staff. Currently, statewide there are 121 trooper vacancies and only 17 recruits in training. The Missouri Department of Public Safety and Highway Patrol will continue to discuss public safety efforts with city law enforcement leaders.”

On Wednesday, Cpt. Joe Morici of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said he was unaware of what recent requests city officials have made of MSHP. He said city officers primarily patrol the interstates within city limits.

“We usually patrol them on our own,” said Morici. “I know in the past we’ve asked them for assistance on the highways for traffic, and I know we had a series of shootings on the highway several years ago, and they helped with that.”

News 4 sent several questions to a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Public Safety, asking if there is an agreement between the two entities as it relates to who is responsible for patrolling the interstates, whether there’s a longstanding precedent and when the last time MSHP was formally requested by the city.

The spokesperson sent News 4 this statement in response to the inquiry:

“We continue to have meaningful conversations with MSHP leaders and the State Director of Public Safety to ensure our resources are being utilized efficiently. MSHP serves as a critical partner in the safety and security of St. Louis residents and visitors.”

In 2017, then-Governor Eric Greitens called on state patrol to help patrol the interstates to allow city officers to focus on troubled areas. Troopers patrolled highways 55 and 70 for about 21 hours a day during the operation. Three months later, the operation was scaled back, with troopers spending about six hours a day on patrols. During the entire operation, troopers made more than 700 arrests and issued 4,500 traffic tickets.

Then, in 2019, after talks between Gov. Mike Parson and local city leaders, state patrol returned to the city for another operation following a violent summer.