(Editor’s note: We are now less than a month away from inaugurating a new governor. We’ve gone back through the notes we have used to cover the dozen inaugurals we’ve covered and we’ve looked at some things we didn’t include in our coverage manuals to assemble several pieces that focus on the new governor and the ceremony that will put him in office. Our “Transitions” entry on November was the first in the series. This is the second):
My old friend “Cutter” Short, who used to hang around reporters at the Capitol years and years ago, back when the reporters were in Rooms 200 and 318, sent an email after reading the “Transition” entry a few days ago and reading the mention of the security arrangements the new governor will have to deal with. “Dalton told Amos and me in ’66 that until ’63 he had no protection. After that, a trooper rode with him but that was about it as I recall,” he wrote.
He was talking about Governor John Dalton (1961-65) and United Press International bureau chief Rael Amos. Until then, Missouri Governors walked around and drove around pretty much as they pleased, with a couple of exceptions.
Governor Thomas T. Crittenden (1881-85), who persuaded railroad interests to post $5,000 reward for arrest of Jesse James, kept his .44 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver in his desk. The pistol is now held by the state museum.
Governor Lloyd Stark (1937-41) didn’t carry a gun as far as we know, but the Highway Patrol assigned troopers to escort him and to protect the Governor’s Mansion because Stark was working with federal authorities to prosecute a big fraud case in the Insurance Department that ultimately brought down Kansas City boss Tom Pendergast—and several death threats had been received.
Otherwise, governors didn’t have security details.
The Highway Patrol’s history recounts that Superintendent Hugh Waggoner one day early in 1963 summoned Trooper Richard Radford to his office and told him to report for duty the next morning in civilian clothes. They went to Governor Dalton’s office where Waggoner introduced Radford to Dalton as his full-time security officer. Waggoner took the steps because Dalton had gotten death threats. There was no training available for Radford so he made things up as he went along.
The security for Dalton’s successor Warren Hearnes, was increased. Hearnes liked to fly, so the Patrol provided a plane and a pilot who doubled as a security officer. As time went by, the duties were separated so there was a pilot and a security officer when Hearnes wanted to fly.
Christopher Bond got a death threat not long after he was elected as the youngest governor in Missouri history. He issued an executive order not long after taking office in 1973 establishing a special unit within the Highway Patrol to provide protection around the clock.
Joseph Teasdale increased security at the Governor’s Mansion because prison inmates worked there and he, as a former prosecutor, wanted to make sure he and his family were safe.
There is at least one time when a governor traveled without a security officer—well, twice, that we know of. One is a personal story.
Governor Carnahan got his own pilot’s license and one night showed up at the Columbia Flying Service office wanting to fly to Hermann. Somebody had to fly the plane back to Columbia because Carnahan was going to meet his wife, Jean, and their security officer, have dinner in Hermann and fly on to a fundraiser in St. Louis. Your correspondent’s son, Rob, was a flight instructor at the time so he flew to Hermann with the Governor. The Carnahans had him join them for dinner before he flew back.
Another time Governor Carnahan flew without a Highway Patrol security officer was October 16, 2000. The security division, as the Patrol puts it, had been “pressed to the limit of its manpower” and chose not to put an officer on the plane but have someone meet the governor when he arrived in New Madrid for a fund-raising event. Later that evening a Highway Patrolman on duty at the mansion had to tell Jean Carnahan what had happened.
It was difficult to identify the remains in the wreckage which is why, today, Governor Greitens and his family members will be fingerprinted and will give DNA samples.
Security was stepped up after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The legislature passed a law in 2005 creating the Governor’s Security Division to protect the Governor and his immediate family and to provide transportation.
What began with one trooper whose only equipment was “a suit, a concealed weapon, and an unmarked car,” is now a corps of specially-trained Highway Patrolmen whose job for at least the next four years is to keep Missouri’s human state SEAL and his family safe.