St. Louis Public Radio — When Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster accepted the endorsement of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, he provided them with an unambiguous message: Under his gubernatorial administration, police officers around the state will have his unwavering support.
“The next administration that I will lead will have the back of law enforcement officers at every level, in every county in this state, unquestioned – and make certain they have the resources and the faith and loyalty of this government as they go forward to make sure that our state is safe and functioning properly,” said Koster at a press conference at the St. Louis Police Officers Association headquarters in St. Louis on Tuesday.
Koster spent most of the day Tuesday traveling around Missouri promoting the state police union’s endorsement. It comes amid a national focus on relationships between police and African-Americans, especially after high-profile police shootings in Ferguson and around the country provoked national discussion.
While the state police union has endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidates before, the group’s backing of the Democratic attorney comes as Republican candidates around the country (including GOP gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens) are emphasizing their support of law enforcement. Officials at the St. Louis press conference said their backing of Koster was unanimous.
Listen Listening…13:11 The above audio features a press conference of Attorney General Chris Koster accepting the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement.
“Although we may not completely agree on every single topic, we’ve always had a good dialogue with the attorney general – unlike any other candidate running for governor at this time,” said Joe Patterson, the president of the St. Louis County Police Officers Association. “The attorney general has always sat down at a table and included us in conversations. We felt that we were part of a plan. And under his governor’s office, we would assume that’s going to continue.”
St. Louis Public Radio’s message to Greitens’ campaign staff regarding the FOP endorsement did not receive a response.
During his remarks, Koster also promised to push the GOP-controlled legislature to support higher bail requirements for arrestees on gun crimes and enacting stricter sentencing on “felons who refuse to put down their guns.” He also reiterated his support for a judicial “gun docket.”
“The city of St. Louis simply cannot survive as an entity at 200 murders a year. It will collapse at some point upon itself. And giving these officers the tools that they need to take criminals off the street and calm these streets from the levels that we have seen has been something I have been advocating for in front of the Missouri General Assembly for the last two years,” said Koster, referring to the gun docket idea. “My hope is that in January of next year as governor, we will return to this issue and talk with them about increased support for probation and parole in intensive supervision.”