On Monday, Gov. Mike Parson announced Col. Sandra Karsten as the new director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. She was previously named the interim director of the department.
Starting her 33-year career as a patrol trooper on Callaway County roads, now Col. Sandra K. Karsten is handing in her badge. The 23rd superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol, she announced Friday she will retire from that position 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. "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." Last week, she was named acting director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety. Karsten is the only female to be named superintendent. She also was the first to be promoted to the ranks of lieutenant, captain, major and lieutenant colonel — then assistant superintendent. Karsten was appointed to the patrol on Sept. 1, 1985, as a member of the 57th Recruit Class. "Harry Lee was the (Callaway County) sheriff," she told the Fulton Sun shortly after being nominated for the superintendent's position. "Interstate 70 did not have the median barriers, and in Kingdom City, there was the old Gaspers truck stop. There were no stop lights in Kingdom City." She added: "There were seven females on patrol. Now there are 71. We've grown a lot in the last 30 years with diversity." Sometimes, Karsten worked alongside Roger Rice, now a major with Fulton Police. "I knew her when she was a trooper here, and she was a great person to work with," he said when she was promoted to superintendent. "I worked cases with her and you couldn't ask for a nicer person." Karsten spent nine years as a trooper before being promoted to sergeant. She met her husband, Tim (a former Fulton Middle School coach), in the early 1990s, and they had two sons, John and Paul. She worked all kinds of jobs within the highway patrol, seeing Troop F's incarnation. In 1996, Karsten transferred to the General Headquarters in Jefferson City. She was assigned to the Field Operations Bureau, where she was promoted to lieutenant, and later captain. In 2001, Karsten transferred to the Human Resources Division as the director of that division. In 2011, she was promoted to the rank of major and designated commander of the Administrative Services Bureau; then later transferred as the commander of the Technical Services Bureau. As a major, she began serving as a member of the Patrol's command staff. In 2012, she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was designated assistant superintendent, where she acted in the superintendent's absence and had direct oversight responsibility for the Professional Standards Division and Public Information and Education Division. Karsten was appointed the 23rd superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol on Feb. 1, 2017. The Missouri Senate confirmed her appointment Thursday, March 9, 2017. As a result of her confirmation, she was elevated to the rank of colonel. She was sworn in March 14, 2017.