Missouri public safety director to step down
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s public safety director is stepping down at the end of the month, the first top holdover from former Gov. Eric Greitens’ staff to leave since Greitens stepped down and Mike Parson took over as governor.
Greitens picked Drew Juden to lead the agency shortly before he took office in January 2017. It wasn’t immediately clear why Juden was leaving the position, which pays $116,000 annually.
Kelli Jones, spokeswoman for Parson, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the governor “was just looking for a different approach.” She declined to be more specific and did not immediately respond to Associated Press requests for comment Friday.
Parson in a statement called Juden a “well accomplished public servant” and wished him well. Juden did not immediately comment.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Sandra Karsten will take on his responsibilities as acting public safety director on top of her work leading the patrol.
Greitens, a Republican, resigned June 1 after months of legal and ethical investigations. He faced possible impeachment, a since-dismissed felony charge for invasion of privacy against a woman with whom he had an affair in 2015, and investigations over possible campaign fundraising irregularities.
Parson served 12 years as sheriff of Polk County in southwestern Missouri before he was elected to the Missouri House and then the state Senate. Also a Republican, he was elected lieutenant governor in 2016.
Parson after taking office praised Greitens’ cabinet and said he did not “anticipate any changes in the cabinet that I’m aware of.” Juden is the first to announce plans to leave.
Juden previously oversaw the police and fire departments for the southeastern Missouri city of Sikeston, a town of 16,000 residents about 140 miles south of St. Louis. He also is a former president of the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.