Officials discuss MSHP merger in light of lake drowning
OSAGE BEACH - Demonstrators gathered outside the Osage Beach City Hall Tuesday morning to demand answers in the events surrounding Brandon Ellingson's drowning at the Lake of the Ozarks last May.
"It could have been anyone's brother or son," demonstrator Ashley Durgin said. "When you are put into police custody they're supposed to protect and serve and they didn't do their job."
Demonstrators and other members of the public were invited to attend a meeting to review the 2011 merger of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Water Patrol.
House Speaker Tim Jones selected a bipartisan group of state representatives to review the training troopers receive and the amount of money saved by merging the two groups.
Brandon Ellingson's father, Craig Ellingson, drove from just outside Des Moines, Iowa this morning to attend the meeting.
"They say they've saved over 3 million dollars over the course of 3 years well my son is worth way more than 3 million dollars," Ellingson said. "It's hard, but hopefully they'll take the cost of public safety over the cost of money."
One committee member said he doesn't know if the merger saved money at all.
"We asked for numbers from the Missouri Department of Highway Patrol and to be honest they've been a little vague," House Representative Rocky Miller said. "They haven't been exactly what we're looking for. We're looking to see if it is a good merger, if it is a good fit for Missouri."
Another public meeting is set for November 5 at 10 a.m. at House Hearing Room 3.
Community members, Jeff Pratt and Wendy Gray and Iowa resident Ashley Durgin stand in front of the Osage Beach City Hall in Osage Beach, Missouri, on Oct. 14, 2014, before the second public hearing to discuss the 2011 Missouri State Highway Patrol merger. They wanted answers in the events surrounding Brandon Ellingson's drowning at the Lake of the Ozarks in May.
More than 50 people gathered on Oct. 14, 2014 in Osage Beach, Missouri, for the second public hearing to discuss the 2011 Missouri State Highway Patrol merger. The meeting was held at the Osage Beach City Hall.
Community member Ben Smith protests outside the Osage Beach City Hall in Osage Beach, Missouri, on Oct. 14, 2014. He demonstrated how the Missouri State Highway Patrol said the life jacket and handcuffs were placed on Brandon Ellingson when he died May 31, 2014, at the Lake of the Ozarks.