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Committee makes final recommendation for merger

Since this past fall state representatives have held hearings across the state about the merger.

The 2011, merge of water patrol into highway patrol command.

On Thursday afternoon ABC 17 News learned new details into what changes Missouri State Highway Patrol will need to make while patrolling the water.

Last month in a special report, ABC 17 News showed how some people believe the safety of Missouri citizens was compromised by the merger.

Now four years later changes are starting to be made when it comes to training.

The question of how well officers can swim was brought up after a 20-year-old man died while in highway patrol custody.

Since May ABC 17 News has been reporting about the drowning of Brandon Ellingson.

Ellingson fell off a trooper’s boat while he was handcuffed.

The trooper not only put the wrong life vest on Ellingson, but eyewitnesses say it didn’t seem like the trooper was a strong swimmer.

After five hearings listening to both past and present water patrolmen, current highway patrol commanders, and Missouri citizens the committee has made its recommendations to the Speaker of the House.

The biggest change about to take place is more swimming.

“At this time there is no set protocol, it was just an email about what these officers were expected to be able to perform,” said Sgt. Randy Henry with highway patrol on October 1, at the first hearing.

The committee is recommending a swimming standard for its marine training that will be used throughout the agency.

Recertification is also something the committee would like to be required.

As far as the command officers, they will now also have to go through training, certification, and recertification for water duties.

Currently all nine troop commanders have no water patrol experience yet are the ones making the decisions.

The committee recommends Matt Walz, who was with water patrol before the merger do an internal review of the water patrol division.

Rep. Diane Franklin from Camdenton, is the head of the committee.

She said she is pleased with highway patrol’s response to some of these changes.

However, she still wants an extensive update in six months to make sure progress is in fact being made, and then another update two years from now.

The list of recommendations made by the committee is as follows:

A thorough internal review to be conducted by Captain Matt Walz; Training, certification, and re-certification of Marine Operations Officers and Command Officers

a. Establish a swimming standard for its marine enforcement training;

b. Conduct an annual re-certification of all marine officers for swimming and
pertinent training in the off season;

c. Establish a specialized marine field training program throughout the agency and
ensure that all troopers have met the required standards;

d. Develop a command officer marine operations training course;

Foster improved relationships with community stakeholders and those who enjoy Missouri’s waterways Promote boater safety and education courses within local schools and communities. Zone Realignment

a. Establish specialized marine operation zones whereby marine officers will
maximize time on water duties;

b. Begin cultivating specific recruitment for marine operations officers;

c. Distinctly mark patrol boats so they are visible and easily recognizable;

(6) Finances and Activity

a. Establish a method of data collection that can be readily measured, analyzed, and reported when necessary; and

Utilize the knowledge and training of the remaining incumbent Water Patrol managers. Provide the committee with an extensive update in six months to examine the progress on the recommendations In two years a legislative overview to inspect the implementation and results stemming from the committee’s recommendation.

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