JOPLIN, Mo. — For years, keeping the peace was Lane Roberts number one priority.
He spent decades in law enforcement.
And today, he’s still very focused on the law, but now instead of enforcing – it’s creating those laws.
Lane Roberts, Joplin, said, “Completely by accident, it’s been an evolution or opportunity.”
Although Lane Roberts of Joplin started his working life in the military, it didn’t take long before he earned his first badge in the Pacific Northwest.
“I was working on a cattle ranch, was a bona fide cowboy. And the owner’s stepson was a member of the sheriff’s posse and told me about this test for the sheriff’s office. And I couldn’t tell you today why I chose to take that test.”
He passed, taking the first of a series of law enforcement jobs in Washington state, Oregon, and then Missouri where he had family.
“My mother called me one day and said, ‘Joplin needs a police chief, will you take the job?’ And you don’t say no to your mom – Mom, it’s a bit more complicated than that. But I applied to be the good son.”
And got the job.
“This by far was the best police job I ever had.”
And the last – he retired in 2014 – but he wasn’t done working.
The Governor tapped him to be head of the state Department of Public Safety – managing elements of law enforcement, veterans homes, and even flooding and tornados.
And there was still another career change ahead.
“Sen. White who was the rep at the time was terming out. Golden opportunity.”
Roberts was elected to the State House in 2018, moving from carrying out existing laws to shaping what exactly the law should be.
“Being on the front end instead of the receiving end is quite a bit different. There were times when I wondered what the legislators were thinking. There are times today when I wonder what we’re thinking.”
He says there’s a lot more homework, researching the impact of potential laws.
It’s a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.
“And when you make those kind of decisions, it helps to have some life experience to know that you’re going to affect people and you should agonize over that a bit they shouldn’t be make lightly.”