Nineteen months after then-Gov. Eric Greitens appointed her to lead Missouri's Highway Patrol, Superintendent Sandra Karsten is retiring.
The Highway Patrol confirmed Thursday she's announced her retirement, effective Sept. 1.
"It has been an honor to serve the people of Missouri as a member of the Missouri State Highway Patrol," Karsten said in a news release Friday. "For the past 33 years I have strived to live by the patrol's core values, to treat others as I wish to be treated, and to connect with each person who has crossed my path either professionally or personally."
That's the same day she is to become interim director of Missouri's Public Safety Department, following the resignation of former Sikeston Police Chief Drew Juden.
Gov. Mike Parson announced Juden's departure — and Karsten's additional job — last week, saying at the time that Karsten would continue at the Patrol while also managing the full department.
"Col. Karsten is an exemplary public servant, and throughout her 33-year law enforcement career she's demonstrated the professionalism and integrity for which the Missouri State Highway Patrol is known," Parson said in a statement to the News Tribune on Friday. "She's a strong, focused leader who has never shied away from tough decisions and who understands the importance of teamwork. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is better, thanks to her service.""
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Karsten joined the Highway Patrol in September 1985 and first was assigned as a road trooper in Callaway and Audrain counties.
When Greitens on Feb. 1, 2017, named her the Patrol's 23rd superintendent in its now 86-year-old history, Karsten told the 29 members of that recruit class: "The Patrol is a great organization — I've had a passion for it since I was 17 years old."
She later told reporters she had attended the program by the American Legion Cadet Patrol Academy, which was held at the General Headquarters campus on East Elm Street.
"It's a week for 16- to 18-year-olds, and they introduce you to recruit training," Karsten explained. "I was so impressed that I wanted to be a part of that organization."
But first, after graduating from high school, Karsten went to Truman State University in Kirksville, graduating in May 1985 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Then she joined the Highway Patrol as part of its 57th Recruit Class — 11 years after the first women had attended the Patrol Academy.
While working on the patrol, Karsten also has earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Missouri.
Karsten and her husband, Tim Karsten, a coach at Blair Oaks High School, married in 1991.
They have two sons.
In 1992, she was promoted to corporal and assigned as an assistant zone commander.
Karsten was promoted to sergeant in 1994 and designated commander of Zone 4 in Audrain County.
She transferred to the Field Operations Bureau at General Headquarters in 1996, and was promoted to lieutenant in September 1997.
In September 1999, Karsten was made captain and remained assigned to the bureau.
On Sept. 1, 2001, she was named director of the human resources division of the patrol.
She was promoted to major Aug. 1, 2011.
At each of the ranks — from lieutenant through colonel — Karsten was the first female officer in the history of the Patrol to attain those ranks.
Greitens noted that "first" when he appointed her to the Patrol's top spot last February — and she said at the time the appointment showed how the agency had changed over the years.
"The Patrol is an organization that is steeped in tradition with great people," she explained. "I think this promotion signifies how inclusive we have become as an organization.
"We're very inclusive of all people now — whether it's a mom, a dad, a partner or whatever the case may be."