Seven Northwest Missourians were among those honored Monday in Jefferson City as Gov. Mike Parson awarded Missouri Public Safety Medals for heroic and live-saving actions in 2018.
Those honored from the area included a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper who stopped a man who shot at him during a chase and six people involved in ending an inmate standoff at Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron.
The awards are the state’s highest recognition for first responders working as individuals and as members of teams during critical incidents.
The Medal of Valor, Missouri’s highest award recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind and unusual swiftness of action in the attempt to save or protect human life, was awarded to Matthew W. Neely of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop H.
On March 19, 2018, Neely spotted the vehicle of a man and woman suspected in a residential theft in Ridgeway, Missouri. Before he could to stop the car, the driver crashed into a utility pole, and he and the passenger got out.
Neely informed the passenger she was under arrest and ordered her to remain with the vehicle, but the driver fled on foot. As Neely pursued the driver across an open field, the man turned and fired multiple shots at the trooper, who attempted to take cover as best he could.
Once the gunfire stopped, Neely radioed that shots had been fired and advanced on the gunman while telling him to drop his weapon. The gunman attempted to re-engage Neely, and the trooper fired several shots, striking the gunman twice. Neely and another trooper provided first aid until medical assistance arrived. The gunman survived.
The Governors Medal is awarded to a group of public safety officers in recognition of acts above and beyond the call of normal duty during a critical incident in which the collective performance of the group was essential to the successful resolution of the incident. Six people from the area were honored with that awards for their role in ending the inmate standoff at Crossroads Correctional Center: Cody B. Ross, Jason M. Huff, Cade A. Thompson and Andrew W. Fritzinger of Missouri Department of Corrections; Chief Richard W. Bashor of the Cameron Police Department; and Bradley R. Muck of the Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop H.
At 8 p.m. on May 12, 2018, approximately 209 offenders in two dining halls in Crossroads refused to leave and stated they were staging a protest. The corrections team notified all housing units to go on lockdown, which prevented an escalation to other areas of the facility. Conditions quickly deteriorated when offenders breached the kitchen area, obtained utensils and began vandalizing the kitchen. Offenders broke out windows and damaged doors and locks, allowing them to access unsecured areas of the facility.
Ross, Huff, Thompson and Fritzinger attempted to de-escalate the situation and then moved swiftly to evacuate staff members as the threat level increased. The corrections team deployed pepper spray and tear gas and secured doors. They helped evacuate and secure 131 surrendering offenders, containing inside the 78 holdouts. Because of their actions, no staff members were injured, and no offenders suffered serious injuries.
While en route to Crossroads, Bashor activated the Cameron Police Department’s tactical team and mobile command center. As more details developed, he requested and received back up, mustering more than 100 law enforcement officers. Operating from the incident command center, Bashor received the first phone contact from the offenders and played a critical leadership role throughout the incident.
Muck reported to the incident command center, where offenders had just made contact with Bashor by phone. Muck, who had only weeks before completed hostage negotiator training, established rapport over the phone with two unidentified offenders. Working through the night, he listened as the offenders shouted their complaints and continued to establish trust, ultimately getting the remaining offenders to return to a dining hall and peacefully end the disturbance.
The St. Jospeh Police Department will be one of 405 agencies across the country to partner with Ring.
Ring doorbells have the capability of detecting motion outside of a house, notifying the owner and recording what’s taking place.
SJPD said this partnership will improve the rate of investigations and give officers a better understanding on a certain situation.
Sgt. Roy Hoskins, St. Joseph police crime prevention officer, said access to video clips will be 100 percent voluntary by the home owners.
“When we ask them for a specific clip, they can either share it or deny us,” Hoskins said. “We will only have access to that single clip and that’s it.”
Before the partnership idea came about, the Police Department gave the public the option to call the electronics crimes unit to inform police of their surveillance systems.
“If an incident happens in front of that house with a camera, then we could call them and ask for that video,” Hoskins said.
This partnership is another step to solve issues more quickly and accurately.
“We’ve already used people’s cameras extensively,” Hoskins said.
With the owners permission, the electronics crime unit can set up a way to remotely access cameras without having to go to the home. Otherwise, officers can go and personally download footage from a home.
Hoskins said this also will help with issues involving misidentifying a suspect.
“We have to still do our due diligence and make sure our investigation is thorough so we aren’t looking for the wrong person,” Hoskins said.
Video gives officers the capability to see how an incident happened rather than just relying on what a witness says took place.
The department hopes to have the partnership finalized before the holiday season, when package theft increases.
A land lease deal that could involve a new city fire station and a university police station being built was approved by the St. Joseph City Council on Monday night.
The agreement, which still needs to be approved by Missouri Western State University’s Board of Governors, would allow the city to lease land across from the main campus on the south side of Mitchell Avenue for 99 years. The city would use that land to build a fire station to replace Station No. 8 on Mitchell Avenue near 33rd Street.
In turn, the city would build a police station for the university’s growing police department.
The agreement was unanimously approved by the City Council.
Council Member Brenda Blessing, who was a professor at Western for 28 years, said she is excited to see the city and university work together.
“I think it’s a win-win for both groups of people,” Blessing said. “One, we need a fire station on that end of town. Two, it’s nice for the university police instead of it being inside the student union. I think they’ve gotten bigger and I think it’s a place where their cars can meet and park.”
She said it sends a message that Missouri Western is working with the city and she hopes they can do more to partner.
Dillon Schreckler, Student Director of External Relations for the university’s Student Government Association, agreed that it shows a willingness to work together.
He said the student body will be happy to see the groups work together.
“This is a great way to be able to get the city of St. Joseph to be able to foster new relations with the Missouri Western State University institution as a whole, as well as show students that they are committed to the excellence, as well as the safety of students on campus,” Shreckler said.
Schreckler approached the City Council during the meeting to say as much and to urge them to vote in approval.
The Board of Governors will meet on Oct. 24 and is expected to vote on the agreement.
City Manager Bruce Woody said preliminary work to prepare the land for construction could begin this fall if both parties are in agreement.
The YWCA St. Joseph is shutting down its breast cancer program.
EncorePlus served to educate women and the community at large about breast cancer. Originally founded in 1994 with the help of a grant from cosmetics company Avon and later Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation funds, the program first focused on cervical and breast cancers.
“In the mid-2000s, there was a surge in interest and need for breast cancer (education), so we dropped the cervical cancer as part of the program,” Family Resources Director Ellen Kisker said.
Now, the YWCA is ending the program. The Susan G. Komen and Avon funding are no longer available, leaving only one choice, according to YWCA CEO Tammy Killin.
“Ellen (Kisker) and her team have been looking for other funding sources, and we just can’t find that,” Killin said. “As a result, we had to make a very tough decision and close our programming.”
In addition to providing education and supporting women affected by breast cancer, EncorePlus held several annual events throughout breast cancer awareness month October.
The Bling a Bra contest encouraged individuals and organizations to decorate bras. In February of each year, the bras were auctioned off during the Bras for a Cause fashion show. The Pink Tea Luncheon honored women and men fighting breast cancer and those who beat it. The Celebration Rosa was an event specifically for the Hispanic community, in addition to other EncorePlus services aimed at Spanish-speaking women.
Former EncorePlus bilingual educator and advocate Sofia Giorgi helped many women navigate health services available to them.
“There’s three things you like to do in your language: count, pray and go to the doctor,” Giorgi said. “It’s really tough when you go to the doctor and you cannot communicate. So that was a very important part of the program and it was wonderful.”
EncorePlus officially shut down at the beginning of September, but the YWCA will host one last Pink Tea Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at 304 N. Eighth St.
The Celebration Rosa will continue, although in a different form. Women from the community will organize the event and provide everything needed for the celebration while the YWCA provides a space for the event on Thursday, Oct. 24.
There also has been interest from volunteers to keep some of the other events going. Kisker said many volunteers were touched by breast cancer in one form or another and want to continue providing support to those who need it.
“Yes, we have shut the program down, but we have wonderful people in place that are going to reach out and look for those who might need some comfort,” Kisker said.
Killin has held her position as YWCA CEO for less than a year, and she said the decision to shut down the program was difficult, although not surprising. Lack of funding and the possibility of ending the program became apparent in July 2018, months before Killin officially took over.
“We’ve kind of been dragging our feet a bit, just trying to look at other ways that we can continue the program,” she said. “However, with this decision, we did come to terms with it. There are other providers doing this. It’s not as if when we close, all the efforts stop.”
For questions about breast cancer and health, Killin recommends contacting your health care provider, the Social Welfare Board, Mosaic Life Care or Northwest Health Services.
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