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Joplin police officers need help

The cop struck by lightning in Joplin remains in critical condition — meanwhile, an ‘Adopt-A-Cop Program’ has been set up to assist local officers from the affected area who lost their homes and belongings

Editor’s Note & Update, 2 JUNE 2011: I’ve been advised that Joplin now has plenty of equipment. Travis Yates tells me, “I wanted to tell others what Horace Small Uniforms did. They saw we were $5000 short of our goal and just sent that amount in. That will enable us to give every officer some much needed funds... Joplin is our priority but when they are good we want to make sure we can meet our other needs. We also know of several Officers in Arkansas in need,” Yates told me. “We would like to either redirect resources to the need or store them for future disasters in our storage center here.” That address is:

Tulsa Police Department
Attn: Capt. Travis Yates
7515 South Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK 74136

Thanks to all the PoliceOne Members whose generosity has been so clearly evident in the past week.

— PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie

Yesterday I reported on the effort being spearheaded by the Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team, and Ten Four Ministries to assist the police officers impacted by the EF-5 tornado that killed scores of people in Joplin, Missouri. I provided some information on ways in which cops from across the United States can do to provide support to all their brothers and sisters with the Joplin Police Department and the Jasper County Sheriff's Department, as well as a small handful of specific needs of the seven cops whose homes and belongings were destroyed in disaster. At the time I’d posted that item, little else was known about the exact needs we as a group could help with. Today, that picture has become clearer.

First off, I have now been told that at least 11 police officers lost everything in the tornado on Sunday — seven from Joplin PD, two from Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, and two from Carthage PD. I’ve also heard that several dispatchers have also lost their homes.

Scott Barthelmass, my contact with the Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team, today told me that he had spoken with Mark St. Peter, who is the Supply Sergeant for Joplin Police Department. Barthalmass said that high on the list of needs is boots.

A police officer pushes a cart loaded with supplies to a command post behind a destroyed Wal-Mart store in Joplin, Mo., Tuesday, May 24, 2011. At least 116 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a tornado cut a destructive path through Joplin on Sunday evening. (AP Photo)
A police officer pushes a cart loaded with supplies to a command post behind a destroyed Wal-Mart store in Joplin, Mo., Tuesday, May 24, 2011. At least 116 people were killed and hundreds more injured when a tornado cut a destructive path through Joplin on Sunday evening. (AP Photo)

“Boots, black and waterproof,” Barthelmass said. “And although not specifically mentioned, based on my urban search and rescue experience boots with a steel toed and sole would be beneficial. They need sizes from women’s 6 to men’s 17. Most officers fall in the 9 to 13 range with the greatest concentration being in the size 10 to 12 men’s range.”

I have also obtained additional, specific information (shirt, pants, and shoe sizes) for four individual officers. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in posting these officers’ names on the Internet, so I’ve created code numbers associated to each officer. My contacts in Missouri have the code key.

Officer 03-140905
XL shirt
38 x 32 pants
Size 9 1/2 wide shoes

Officer 10-022118
2XL shirt
42 x 36 pants
Size 12 shoes

Officer 23-130119
L shirt
30 x 34 pants
Size 9 1/2 shoes

Officer 10-020118
XL shirt
36 x 34 pants
Size 10 shoes

In general terms, the PD also needs:

BDU pants (all sizes, blue in color)
Shirts (BDU or polo type, all sizes, blue, preferably that say police on them)
Ball caps (blue, preferable that say police on them)
Boonie hats (blue)

Donations can be shipped directly to the Joplin Police Department in care of the individual officers. BE SURE TO REFERENCE THOSE ALL-IMPORTANT CODES ASSOCIATED WITH THE OFFICER. That address, once again, is:

Joplin Police Department
Attn: Sgt. Mark St. Peter
303 E. 3rd St.
Joplin, MO 64801

If you have any questions, you can call Sgt. St. Peter at 417-623-3131.

Helping All Who Were Affected 
Once again, to my knowledge, eleven law enforcers in the Joplin area lost their homes and virtually all their belongings. There are almost certainly others whose homes remain standing but severely damaged. I have no idea about the numbers, but given the scale and scope of the tragedy, we must assume that many others need our help. Happily, that’s precisely what we’re doing.

My friend Travis Yates is Director of Ten Four Ministries and my colleague here at PoliceOne. Yates told me today that as a result of the column I wrote yesterday, law enforcers from across the United States donated more than $1,000 to help their brothers and sisters with the Joplin Police Department and the Jasper County Sheriff's Department. Yates is a very reluctant fundraiser (as am I), but we are both making an effort to overcome that barrier.

“Let me begin by saying I stink at fundraising” Yates told me. “Mainly because I hate it, but also because the TV preachers have put a bad taste in just about every cop’s mouth, and rightfully so. In the three-plus years I’ve been overseeing a nonprofit, I think I’ve specifically asked for funds three times... to help an officer pay medical bills after a leukemia diagnosis, the tornado stricken officers in Alabama, and now — in Joplin. We were able to drop one thousand dollars each into the hands of Alabama officers. It was important because here were these guys, two weeks after the event, still working around the clock and their family was dealing with one bureaucrat after another to get some help.”

Yates told me that he thought the Alabama tornado disaster was a “once in a decade” event, but having now seen some of the images of the devastation in Joplin, he’s now convinced he and his organization now needs to do the same thing for those LEOs in Missouri.

“Eleven officers — eleven thousand dollars. How do we get there? We’re eighteen hundred toward that goal, with most donations from working cops throwing in twenty dollars or so at the cause. That’s how we get there. If every PoliceOne member sent in $20, we’d be there in a matter of days. I’m looking at going down to Joplin next week and I will personally tell each officer these funds came from their own.”

If you want to make a donation to the fundraising effort now underway with Ten Four Ministies and the Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team, just click here

Barthelmass told me that support from police officers is pouring in. “I’ve been told that the St. Louis Police Officers Association is donating $10,000 to the Joplin area officers. Applause is due for the fine men and women of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. I understand that there is a large amount of items going down from agencies in St. Charles County as well as from Perryville PD this weekend. The Sheepdog Society is overnighting a good amount of supplies for the officer who needed clothing, as well as items for his two year old. Others have expressed an interest in sending items as well.”

Others, Including Yours Truly
Yesterday I wrote that I would gather up some toys from around my house and send them to the little girl I had mentioned in my column. Last night before I tucked him into bed, my son and I did just that. Grabbing a few stuffed toys, books, and other things, I spoke with my toddler son about how we were helping a little girl he will almost certainly never meet. In truth, the boy was more interested in playing with those toys he wanted to keep, but I’m hopeful that someplace in his toddler brain he will remember that he did something good and giving and righteous for someone who needed him to step up and do his small part.

Today, with the help of my friend and colleague Christina, I mailed a box containing those playthings to the FOP Lodge in Joplin. That address, for your convenience, is:

Joplin Police Department
Attn: William Davis
303 E 3 rd St.
Joplin, MO 64801

Last night as I collected some toys to send, I prayed — in my own sort of unusual and unique way — for the speedy recovery of Officer Jeff Taylor of the Riverside (Mo.) Police Department, who was struck by lightning during the search for survivors.

I recently reconnected with Capt. Skinrood of the Riverside (Mo.) PD, who mentioned to me that the best thing that people can do right now for Officer Jeff Taylor is to help the family with donations. “If they go to K.C. Police Credit Union website, on the front page there is an article about Jeff and a link to make donations. He and his family are going to need a lot of help both financially and emotionally so whatever the PoliceOne members can do is greatly appreciated,” he said.

PoliceOne members looking for regularly-updated information about Officer Taylor can check in on this website hosted by CaringBridge.org. An account set up — the Taylor Benefit Account — to accept donations to assist Jeff and his family with expenses.
Those donations can be sent to:

K.C. Police Credit Union
2800 East 14th Street
Kansas City, MO 64127
Main Phone: 816-504-2800
Toll free: 800-338-8567
Internet: www.kcpcu.org

The thoughts and prayers of everyone here at PoliceOne go out to the family, friends, and fellow-LEOs of Officer Taylor, and to all the heroes who continue to do such great work to help restore the area.

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