ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens appeared as the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Prayer Breakfast.
Greitens and emcee Joe Buck praised police for the jobs they do when their work has brought attacks like never before.
“There's a strong silent majority of people throughout the state who support our law enforcement officers,” Greitens said.
The governor did not speak with the media following the event but did take time to talk with members of law enforcement, who showered him with loud applause before and after his speech.
“I couldn't think of a better person at this time to memorialize our families and officers and pay respect to their families,” said Wentzville Police Chief Kurt Frisz, who was in charge of the prayer breakfast.
Frisz said the governor was asked last year to speak and, despite his current legal drama, they wanted him to appear.
Sgt. Tom Lake, the St. Louis police officer who was shot in his face while on duty in November 2016, introduced the governor. Lake said Greitens has called him a friend.
“He has been there for me by my side and he goes out to see officers who are injured and hurt in the line of duty and he personally thanks them,” Lake said.
The governor's appearance didn't overshadow the tribute to the 1,598 officers who’ve died in the line of duty in the last 10 years. Last year, 135 officers died; 39 more have died thus far in 2018.
“It’s coming to a point anymore where you have to have your head on a swivel. Always looking around,” said Charles Juden, Missouri Director of Public Safety.
Chief Frisz called it a challenging time for law enforcement.
“…Things that keep chiefs up at night and families wondering if their loved ones will come home,” he said.