In 2023, the Missouri Department of Public Safety team continued strengthening existing programs and innovating in a changing public safety landscape. As always, our diverse DPS team members worked closely with our public safety partners to understand and meet their evolving needs, always driven by our commitment to serving Missourians with integrity. Here is a look at some of the accomplishments achieved in 2023.

Expanding Financial Aid to Attract Missourians to Law Enforcement Careers

Blue Scholarship

In Fiscal Year 2024 (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024), the second year of the program, funding for DPS’ Missouri Blue Scholarship fund doubled to $2 million. In the first six months of FY 2024, 137 scholarships were approved for a total of over $585,000. More than 195 additional scholarship applications will be eligible for consideration once the recruits’ academy training begins in 2024. In Fiscal Year 2023, Blue Scholarships were awarded to 217 law enforcement training academy recruits, which utilized the entire $1 million appropriation. The Blue Scholarship pays up to $5,000 for a Missouri law enforcement recruit to attend a licensed Missouri basic training academy. Funding is still available for 2024. Recruits may apply here.

Missouri Veterans Homes’ Support Care Training Program Bolsters Staffing

Veterans Homes’ Support Care Training

In 2023, the Missouri Veterans Commission’s Certified Nursing Assistants training program graduated 260 CNAs to work in Missouri Veterans Homes. The six-week training program was created to grow the available CNA workforce for MVC’s seven homes across the state. The certification course is free, offered at all homes, includes both classroom and on-the-job training, and pays enrollees a Direct Care Aide wage during training. On September 22, 2023, DPS Director Sandy Karsten and MVC Deputy Director Ryon Richmond joined the 13 Mexico home students who had just graduated from the largest CNA class ever held at the home. All 13 entering students graduated.

DPS Grants Section Funds More Than 1,950 Public Safety Agencies Across Missouri

In 2023, the DPS Director’s Office Grants Section took on even greater responsibilities as it administers grants that are sending over $216 million to enhance public safety in Missouri. There are over 1,950 grant recipients receiving funding for everything from boosting rural deputy sheriffs’ pay and supporting regional drug interdiction task forces to terrorism prevention and building resilience against critical incidents among first responders. In 2023, a new grant program awarded a total of $10 million to 45 Missouri county jails across the state to fund urgent maintenance and improvement projects to ensure the facilities are safe and secure for staff, visitors and their communities. The County Jail Maintenance and Improvements Grant utilizes American Rescue Plan Act funds and required a 50% local match. Completed projects include a body scanning security system for the Andrew County Sheriff’s Office, prisoner transport vehicles for the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office, a closed circuit video and intercom system for the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office and jail door lock upgrades for the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2023, the DPS Director’s Office also awarded almost $8.7 million to over 500 law enforcement, fire service and EMS agencies across the state for up to $20,000 each toward expenditures including equipment, supplies, training/travel and personnel and benefits. The Peace Officer Grant, Fire Protection Grant, and Emergency Medical Service Providers Grant utilize American Rescue Plan Act funds and require a 50% local match. Funded projects included patrol vehicles for law enforcement, fire turnout gear for the fire service and cardiac monitors for EMS agencies.

Because Missouri voters approved Amendment 3 in November 2022, legalizing cannabis for recreational use, dozens of drug-detecting K-9s imprinted for marijuana detection were retired in 2023. The DPS Grants Section developed the Missouri Canine Replacement Grant, utilizing State Drug Task Force Grant funding to allow local law enforcement agencies and the Highway Patrol to acquire and train a total of 43 illicit-drug detecting K-9s. A total of over $600,000 was awarded to 36 agencies for a total of 43 new K-9s.

Over 80 percent of DPS Grant Section funding is directed to local recipients but because of additional use of vehicles and state equipment during the COVID-19 response, in 2023, Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding grants were directed to support SEMA’s Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team (MO DMAT-1) and the Division of Fire Safety. MO DMAT-1 used approximately $650,000 to purchase three 26-foot Mack trucks with lift gates, a 53-foot flatbed trailer, forklift trailer, all-terrain forklift and truck, and a pickup truck with a camper shell. This equipment allows the team to deploy and set up a mobile hospital system and associated equipment. DFS utilized $60,000 for the purchase of a replacement pickup truck.

In 2023, the DPS Grants Section also utilized U.S. Department of Justice Byrne JAG funding to   strengthen the capabilities of Missouri Capitol Police and JAG and State Cyber Crime Grant funding to advance the operational strength of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Digital Forensic Investigative Unit. MCP acquired a second explosive-detecting K-9 and trained the K-9 and a second K-9 Officer with a total of $12,126 in JAG funding. A previous K-9 retired in 2021. As part of JAG grant requirements, MCP makes the K-9 team available to assist area law enforcement agencies.

The Digital Forensic Investigative Team, which primarily investigates and prosecutes internet sex crimes against children, replaced a 26-year-old van that was configured to operate as a mobile forensic unit. It has been used on scene over 200 times. A van was purchased with $40,000 in JAG funds and was outfitted as a mobile forensic unit using $31,285 in State Cyber Crime Grant funds.

SEMA Supports Missourians Following Severe Storms and Flooding

SEMA Supports Missourians

Following multiple severe weather events in the spring and summer of 2023, SEMA coordinated with volunteer and community organizations active in disasters to quickly organize four Multi-Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) in Missouri communities. Analyses have shown that even in cases where a federal disaster will eventually be declared, many people impacted by storms or flooding have tremendous immediate needs for housing, food stamp replacements, cleanup supplies, hygiene items, diapers and other assistance to tide them over until additional recovery resources become available. This is the reason SEMA helps organize MARCs. MARCs are one-stop-shops that bring vital recovery resources and information to Missourians impacted by disasters in a single location nearby. Free childcare is often available so that parents can focus fully on finding the assistance their families need. SEMA-coordinated MARCs in 2023 served a total of 665 people. MARCs were held in Bollinger County (April), Linn County (May) and Knox County (August) following tornadoes. A second Bollinger County MARC was held in August following flash flooding. State agencies represented at 2023 MARCs included: SEMA Emergency Human Services, SEMA Floodplain and Flood Insurance Section, Department of Social Services, Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Commerce and Insurance, Missouri Housing Commission, Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Nonprofit agencies included the following: American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, United Way, Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief, Catholic Charities, Legal Aid, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Operation BBQ Relief, Missouri Bar Association Partners, Christian Action Ministries, Humane Society of Missouri.

Strengthening Data/Information Sharing Among Public Safety Partners

In 2023, DPS made major strides in the areas of information sharing and strengthening investigative capabilities among law enforcement partners at all levels. Technical upgrades by the Missouri 911 Service Board mean that now when 911 calls are transferred to the Missouri State Highway Patrol – for the first time – all 911 data flows to the Patrol as well. This has eliminated the need for the caller to repeat for a second time the information already shared with 911. This expedites call processing and Patrol response times. Missouri is also nearing completion of what’s called “CAD-to-CAD,” a process that allows computer assisted dispatch information to be shared quickly between agencies. Currently, there often is no interoperability between agencies, which means critical data from first responders often must be typed by hand at assisting agencies. MSHP expects to begin onboarding agencies in early 2024. Finally, MoDEx, which allows Missouri law enforcement agencies to share sensitive details of investigative cases with N-DEx, the national information sharing system, saw a 25% increase in registered Missouri users, to a total of 370, which expands the ability to search and analyze important investigative information. 

Highway Patrol Combats Human Trafficking; Single Investigation Frees 22 in Missouri and Texas

Since 2018, the Highway Patrol has trained a total of 1,104 officers (troopers and officers from other agencies) in the Interdiction for the Protection of Children Program. IPC is a victim-centered approach to traffic stops and criminal investigations that trains officers to detect potential trafficking indicators along with effective communication techniques to use with trafficking victims, who may be in fear of their traffickers. Over the last two years, the Patrol has recovered nine children and filed over 100 charges, including for child abduction, parental kidnapping and failure to register as a sex offender. In one case that led to guilty pleas in federal court in August 2023, troopers tracked down two co-conspirators who were part of a human trafficking and drug cartel based in Texas. The Patrol received word that FBI agents in Texas needed assistance locating a suspect in a human trafficking case. The suspect’s vehicle was believed to be in the Kansas City area en route to Minnesota. Patrol investigators located the vehicle and during questioning the driver admitted to being part of a human trafficking conspiracy. He had three victims he was holding against their will. He made statements that led to the discovery of a “stash house” in Fort Worth, Texas where 19 people – infants to adults – were being held against their will. Further investigation revealed a human trafficking and drug smuggling cartel was moving 60-80 victims through the stash house per month. They were held for ransoms or forced into sex or labor trafficking.

DPS Supports School Safety with Emergency Alert App and Safety Planning Program

Emergency Alert App

In 2023, DPS launched two programs to boost school safety in Missouri – funding for an emergency alert app and an all-hazards emergency operations planning tool for individual schools. Through November 2023, 210 school districts and charter schools with a total of 859 school buildings (38% in the state) had established alerting capability or were in the process of implementing the free alerting app. The app, for which DPS pays Raptor Technologies $1 million annually, can rapidly warn students, teachers, staff and first responders about school threats. Schools can begin enrolling in the program here.

DPS also awarded a $1.9 million school safety grant to the Missouri School Boards’ Association to fund two-year subscriptions for each school district to the Missouri Emergency Operations Plan (MOEOP) tool. This tool assists district and school staff in developing and maintaining comprehensive all-hazards emergency operations plans. The tool also assists in collaboration with public safety officials and stakeholders. Over 240 school districts have utilized the MOEOP tool.

DPS Boosts Law Enforcement Active Shooter Response Training

Active Shooter Trainging

In January 2023, DPS partnered with Missouri State University to provide free active shooter response training to Missouri law enforcement agencies. The training curriculum is from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center, which developed the only FBI-approved active shooter response training in the nation. In 2023, 12 training sessions were held, attended by 191 Missouri officers. DPS has purchased additional equipment and supplies to expand training capabilities in 2024. Registration for Missouri ALERRT is available here. In 2021, the Missouri State Highway Patrol began providing free training in active threat response training to law enforcement officers from other agencies. To date, 257 law enforcement officers from 58 different non-Patrol agencies across Missouri have received the training. Since 2022, the Patrol has required that all commissioned troopers and commercial vehicle officers participate annually in an active threat response course of at least four hours.

In addition, in Fiscal Year 2023, Missouri Capitol Police provided almost 1,000 Missourians with in-person training on protecting themselves in an active threat situation. The training is available to state workforce team members, legislators and other groups that schedule the course. Videotaped versions of the training is required viewing as part of the onboarding process at some state government departments.  

Veterans Commission Wins 60% More in Benefits Cases for Missouri Veterans

In Fiscal Year 2023, MVC’s Veterans Service Program established representation for over 6,900 additional veterans or their spouses in cases that resulted in claims filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In all, over 12,250 new claims and appeals were filed with the VA in FY23. Over 1,800 new compensation and pension claims resulted in $13.6 million in new cash awards to veterans because of MVC’s 50 Veterans Service Officers’ work. This was a 60% increase in new awards and a 23% increase in new beneficiaries compared to 2022. MVC is authorized to distribute up to $1.6 million in matching fund grants to federally chartered Veterans Service Organizations or local government agencies certified by the VA to process veterans’ claims within the VA system. MVC made the following distributions: Disabled American Veterans, $572,618; Veterans of Foreign Wars, $537,871; American Legion, $184,681; Vietnam Veterans of America, $111,575; American Veterans, $48,488; St. Louis County $39,372; and Missouri Veterans Commission $90,534.

SEMA Team Creates Nation’s First Quick Guide for Flood Recovery


In 2023, SEMA’s floodplain management team was recognized by the National Association of State Floodplain Managers for its exemplary efforts in flood recovery and damage guidance. SEMA State National Flood Insurance Program Coordinator Karen McHugh and her staff collaborated with former Illinois State NFIP Coordinator Paul Osman to create the nation’s first “After the Flood Quick Guide.” This 66-page comprehensive resource guide provides Missourians with easy-to-understand information on flood clean up, mold remediation, mitigation grants, and other issues regarding rebuilding safely in compliance with NFIP regulations.

Highway Patrol’s Expanded Use of Drones Opens Highways Faster and Protects Officers

Drone hovering MSHP vehicle

In 2023, the Highway Patrol utilized drones about 350 times after dramatically expanding its Small Unmanned Aircraft System Program to include use in crime scene photography, SWAT team operations and in the Public Information and Education Division. Drones are still chiefly used at major traffic crash scenes, allowing roads to be opened much faster and increasing the safety of officers by keeping them out of harm’s way. Without a drone, a road must be kept closed so a trooper can traverse the roadway to precisely document the full crash scene. Using drones, once troopers make roadway markings, roads can be re-opened with a drone capturing all necessary photographs from overhead, as troopers stand safely away from traffic. This can sometimes result in roads being reopened hours faster than in the past. The introduction of indoor drones means SWAT officers can observe many rooms in buildings before the team ever enters the structure. A total of four troopers became FAA-certified as new pilots in Troops A, C, D, and F. Two pilots were certified in both the Bomb Squad and the Public Information and Education Division. One pilot is assigned to the Training Division.

Building First Responder Resilience to Combat Critical Incident-Related Stress

First Responder Resilience to Combat Stress

DPS’s Critical Incident Stress Management Training program, launched in 2022, continues to expand, providing impactful training to Missouri first responders throughout the state at no cost to the responders or their agencies. In 2023, a total of 677 people were trained in one-, two- or three-day course offerings in peer support. The training is designed to help those who serve heal from frontline traumas and empower them to live healthy, productive lives – personally and professionally. This peer-support training program is available to any first responder – law enforcement, fire service, EMS, dispatch personnel and agency chaplains.

Also, the Missouri State Highway Patrol continues to expand its DEFENSE (Defending Employees From the Effects of Negative Stressful Experiences) program, which was created in 2015. In 2023, the Patrol began offering the Cordico wellness app to all employees, retirees and family members. The app provides online support for mental health and wellness concerns, online evaluation tools and listings of a network of approved mental health providers. The Patrol also offers peer support training for all MSHP employees and provides peer support training to Missouri law enforcement agencies following critical incidents when requested.

SEMA Conducts Major Earthquake Response Exercise

Earthquake Response Exercise

On Oct. 17 and 18, 2023, the State Emergency Management Agency led a New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) earthquake response functional exercise that included the largest exercise activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Every hazard-identification plan maintained by the state of Missouri identifies an NMSZ earthquake as a significant threat hazard. The risk a catastrophic NMSZ earthquake would pose to the region and the nation is so significant that the federal government conducted a National Level Exercise in Missouri and other central states based on a NMSZ catastrophic earthquake scenario in 2011. In Jefferson City, a total of 141 people from 10 state departments and the Governor’s Office participated at SEOC over the two-day exercise. Because communication with the public would be essential following a catastrophic earthquake, a Joint Information Center was established as part of the exercise, with 20 public Information Officers participating from 12 agencies and the Governor’s Office. Also, as part of the exercise, 91 members of Missouri Task Force 1, Missouri’s federal Urban Search and Rescue Team, and 39 members of SEMA’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team, MO DMAT-1, participated in a full-scale exercise at a specialized training facility in Georgia, which simulated catastrophic earthquake conditions.

In 2023, SEMA led or sponsored a total of 68 exercises across Missouri – ranging from continuity of operations seminars and water purification drills to cybersecurity tabletops and a mass fatality full-scale exercise – that included over 2,700 first responders, emergency managers, nongovernment organizations and business participants.

DPS Launches Law Enforcement Cryptocurrency Education Initiative

In September, the Missouri Office of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Team launched a new cryptocurrency education initiative with a one-hour virtual class, Crypto Cliff Notes: What Law Enforcement Needs to Know. Over 300 members of law enforcement in Missouri and across the nation attended. The class served as a precursor to an all-day training the cybersecurity team held November 28 titled Cryptocurrency Fundamentals. This class was attended in-person and remotely by over 100 members of law enforcement from Missouri, five other states and the federal government. The training covered what the blockchain is and how it works, different types of cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency tracing. The OHS cybersecurity team, based in the Missouri Information Analysis Center, coordinates a host of state cybersecurity programs with all three Missouri fusion centers and federal law enforcement. The program offers information sharing, cybersecurity tabletop exercises, incident response plan writing workshops, and educational presentations on the overarching cybersecurity domain.

Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Advances New Licensing System

ATC New Licensing System

The Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control has now reached over 60% completion of its multi-year project to transform its quarter-century old alcohol licensing and case management system. ATC’s new online platform is expected to be operational in early 2024 and will eliminate paper forms, manual processes and a computer system that dates to 1997. The new system will provide online access to apply for a liquor license, register brands, file excise reports, access public reports, file complaints, and more for ATC’s 17,400 licensees and other users. In 2023, ATC converted almost all its paper documents into electronic files.

Highway Patrol Provides Support to Kansas City for Super Bowl Parade and NFL Draft

Super Bowl Parade and NFL Draft

The Patrol assisted the Kansas City Police Department and the Kansas City Chiefs with two major events in 2023. More than 60 Patrol members and uniformed civilians assisted with the Chiefs’ Super Bowl Parade on February 15, including security, vehicular/pedestrian traffic control, and monitoring activities in the emergency operations center. From April 27-29, the Patrol helped ensure a secure environment for more than 300,000 fans during the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Months of planning led up to the three-day detail that involved over 60 members and uniformed civilian staff. Assignments included security at the main stage, vehicular and pedestrian traffic control and communications support.

Division of Fire Safety Advances Records Management System

In 2023, the Division of Fire Safety began development of a new online records management system for the Amusement Ride Safety Unit that will transform the outdated existing system that still relies heavily on paper forms and U.S. Mail. Once fully implemented as expected in 2024, the system will allow ride operators to file inspection reports and ride itineraries online as well as providing them and DFS team members with online access to records for over 1,000 amusement rides operating in Missouri.

Missouri Gaming Commission Marks 30 Years of Service

MGC Marks 30 Years

In 2023, the Missouri Gaming Commission marked its 30th anniversary of regulating the gaming industry. In those three decades, proceeds from Missouri’s casino tax have provided over $7.6 billion for the state education fund. In addition, MGC has distributed a total of over $1 billion from casino proceeds to the Missouri Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund, the Missouri National Guard Trust Fund, the Missouri College Guarantee Access Missouri Financial Assistance Fund, and the Compulsive Gamblers Fund. MGC works in coordination with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Gaming Division to conduct investigations and enforcement necessary to assist with regulating legal gaming.

MSHP’s Division of Drug and Crime Control Investigates Criminal Cases in 112 of Missouri’s 114 Counties in 2023

In 2023, the Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control’s 40th anniversary, DDCC investigated over 2,500 criminal cases in 112 Missouri counties and the independent City of St. Louis. DDCC was established with the signing of Senate Bill 294 in September 1983 by Governor Kit Bond. Today, DDCC has 125 investigators, 17 highly-trained civilian support personnel, and includes the Rural Crimes Investigative Units, Digital Forensics Investigation Unit, Human Trafficking/Interdiction for Protection of Children Investigations, Organized Crime/Anti-Terrorism Unit and Illegal Gaming Investigations. DDCC Narcotics Investigators comprise nine teams located across the state to combat the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. Five of the nine teams belong to multi-jurisdictional drug taskforces made up of state, municipal and county officers. In 2023, DDCC investigated over 156 deaths, 50 sexual offenses, and 1,750 narcotics cases. DDCC’s Digital Forensics Investigative Unit investigated almost 100 child sexual exploitation cases and filed a total of 40 criminal charges.

SEMA Conferences Boost Preparedness in Communities Across Missouri

Drone hovering MSHP vehicle

In August 2023 in Columbia, SEMA hosted Missouri’s first in-person annual State Emergency Management Conference since 2019. The three-day conference provides emergency managers and first responders with in-state training at a low cost on wide-ranging emergency management topics from experts in each field. Over 370 emergency managers and responders from 154 different government, nonprofit and community organization across the state attended the conference, which included 20 breakout sessions on topics ranging from National Weather Service tools and products to cybersecurity planning. It was important to return this conference to an in-person format because it offers more diverse and topical training and networking opportunities than communities with limited resources and small staffs can get at any other single training event in Missouri.

Also, SEMA’s Missouri Emergency Response Commission (MERC) hosted the three-day 2023 Central States Hazmat Preparedness and Planning Conference in Independence in June. More than 225 hazmat professionals attended the conference, which covered Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and other agencies with critical roles in hazmat issues. The MERC, which is entirely funded through industry fees, is Missouri’s hazmat regulatory commission that assists local communities with chemical incident prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Each year, the MERC funds training for first responders across the state on topics such as highway tanker response, hazmat awareness and operations, anhydrous ammonia and air monitoring. In 2023, the MERC provided training for nearly 600 first responders and hazmat professionals across 26 counties.