First Emergency Responder to Succumb to COVID-19 Honored

U.S. and Missouri flags were flown at half-staff at all government buildings in Cass, Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties and at fire houses across the state on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in honor of Kansas City Fire Department EMT Billy Birmingham.

Governor Mike Parson also ordered the U.S. and Missouri flags to be flown at half-staff at the Fire Fighters Memori​​al of Missouri in Kingdom City.

On April 13, EMT Birmingham died of COVID-19 after responding to several service calls in which there were patients positive for COVID-19, according to the Kansas City Fire Department. His death is the first known COVID-19 line-of-duty death of a first responder in the state of Missouri. His funeral was held on April 22.

“In the face of this unprecedented public health crisis, Billy Birmingham repeatedly and without hesitation risked his own health and safety by responding to emergency calls,” Governor Parson said. “EMT Birmingham died heroically and selflessly in service to others. His death is a reminder to all of us to appreciate and thank the EMTs, paramedics, and all first responders who are serving on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19.”

EMT Birmingham served as a member of the Metropolitan Ambulance Services Trust (MAST) from 1998 to 2010 and continued his service as a member of the Kansas City Fire Department following the consolidation of MAST and KCFD in 2010. He was an ordained minister and founded Agape Love Ministries of Christ Unlimited in 2012. He was 69 years old and is survived by six children, 14 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

To view the proclamation, visit https://governor.mo.gov/proclamations/governor-parson-orders-flags-half-staff-four-counties-april-22-honor-kansas-city-emt

Decontamination System Will Help Extend Use of N95 Masks

In​ his April 22 COVID-19 briefing, Governor Parson announced the deployment of a decontamination system in Missouri to assist with the N95 mask shortage.

Governor Parson was joined by CoxHealth Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Robin Trotman, Missouri Department of  Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams, MO HealthNet Director Todd Richardson, and Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten.

In an effort to conserve personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals, health care providers, and first responder agencies will have the opportunity to utilize the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) starting next week to safely decontaminate N95 masks for reuse.

Expanding PPE reserves is one of the four essential pillars of the state’s “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan.

“The PPE shortage has been a top concern in Missouri and nationwide as health care professionals and first responders respond to COVID-19,” Governor Parson said. “By helping conserve PPE, this system will be a huge asset to our overall recovery plan.”

A result of two decades of research and approved for use through the federal Food and Drug Administration, the system uses a process of vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the masks. Any one mask can be decontaminated using this process up to 20 times without impacting its integrity.

The Battelle CCDS is 100 percent federally funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, allowing the mask decontamination to be provided at no cost to health care providers.

There will be up to 13 drop-off and pick-up sites located throughout the state for health care providers and first responders to drop off their N95 masks for decontamination. Each facility or organization will be responsible for correctly and safely packaging their contaminated masks and labeling them according to the directions supplied by Battelle.

The masks are then transported via a biohazard courier to the temporary site of the Battelle CCDS in Jefferson City. The masks are then returned to the original drop-off/pick-up site approximately 72 hours following drop-off.

The Battelle system is completely safe while in operation to the surrounding community. Specialists from both DHSS and the Department of Natural Resources have thoroughly reviewed the specifications.

It is anticipated that the Battelle system will be available to Missouri providers for use for at least six months. Battelle continues to research additional types of PPE that might be safely decontaminated using this process. Any health care or first responder organization interested in using the Battelle CCDS to decontaminate N95 masks should enroll at www.battelle.org/N95.

Also in today’s briefing, Governor Parson announced that DHSS has expanded the criteria for who can be approved for testing through the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory.

In addition to symptomatic close contacts to a suspect COVID-19 patient or a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient and symptomatic health care workers and first responders, DHSS will also approve state testing for symptomatic residents of congregate living facilities whose residents are at higher risk for poor outcomes; symptomatic hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19; and symptomatic patients who are at high risk for negative health outcomes from COVID-19.

For individuals not meeting DHSS criteria for testing, providers may pursue private laboratory testing. Testing through private laboratories does not require DHSS approval. An interactive testing site map is now available on the DHSS website.

Missouri Launches PPE Marketplace

On April 22 Governor Mike Parson announced the launch of a new tool developed by Google to help health care providers connect with Missouri manufacturers and suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“It’s vital that we keep our health care workers as protected as possible in the fight against COVID-19,” Governor Parson said. “Manufacturers across the state have answered the call to help protect our health care workers, and we are committed to doing all we can to get this equipment into the hands of those that need it.”

​​The new tool is a joint effort between the state and the Missouri Hospital Association. It was built to help manufacturers that have shifted production to PPE enter the health care market and connect with buyers.

Over the past month, the Department of Economic Development (DED) has gathered interest from more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers of PPE and invited all of these companies to register in the system.

Likewise, state health care agencies and the Missouri Hospital Association are reaching out to health care providers across the state to ensure they have access and can connect directly with suppliers through the new tool.

Expanding reserves of PPE by opening public and private supply chains is one of the four essential pillars of the “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan introduced by Governor Parson on April 17.

Missouri businesses interested in selling or manufacturing PPE can contact DED at ded.mo.gov/howtohelp.

Christian County Promotes Two

Christian County Sheriff Brad Cole (center) promoted two members of his jail staff on Tuesday, April 22.

Jason Applegate was promoted to the position of jail lieutenant and Krystal Smith was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Jason Applegate began his career with the Christian County Sheriff’s Office in February 2015 as a corrections officer. He quickly moved up through the ranks to corporal over Transport then later to administration sergeant.

“Jason is a dedicated and hardworking employee. The hard work and dedication he demonstrated is why he was he was promoted to the position of lieutenant over the jail,” the sheriff said.  

Krystal Smith began her career with the Christian County Sheriff’s Office in March 2007, handling many roles during her 13 years of service with the sheriff’s Office.

“She has been a role model and a team player since day one. Her latest assignment was corporal over Transportation. The hard work and dedication of she demonstrated during her time here earned her rank of sergeant within the jail,” Sheriff Cole said.

Photo provided.

COVID-19 Derails Efforts to Put Recreational Marijuana on Fall Ballot

An effort to get a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri on the November ballot has collapsed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

A group called Missourians for a New Approach committee announced Wednesday that it “simply cannot succeed in gathering sufficient signatures” amid restrictions that closed business and forced people to stay home. The group had faced a deadline of May 3 to collect 170,000 signatures.

“We had hoped that it might be possible to persuade the state of Missouri to allow online signature gathering under the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in this spring,” the group said in a statement.

But state officials said no, and the group sai​​d “there does not appear to be any other path.” The statement said that the group hoped that the campaign would resume next year, with the goal of placing the issue of whether to legalize the use of marijuana for those 21 or older on the November 2022 ballot.

“It appears,” the group wrote, “that Missourians are ready to embrace legalization if given the opportunity to vote on it.”

The group has said the recreational marijuana effort is being supported by the same backers who helped pass the medical marijuana constitutional amendment in 2018.

 
​Associated Press | News Tribune​

Senators Propose up to $25K in Hazard Pay for ‘Essential Workers’

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would grant a pandemic premium pay increase of up to $25,000 to essential workers and institute a $15,000 essential worker recruitment incentive.

The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” proposal aims to reward and retain essential workers as well as recruit more.

U.S. senators have proposed a COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” that would provide up to $25,000 in hazard pay for essential workers, including first responders and healthcare professional​​s. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

“Thousands of New Yorkers across the city, Long Island and upstate are leading this fight and reporting to the frontlines of our state and nation’s pandemic response each and every day, placing themselves squarely in harm’s way to serve the needs of others,” Schumer said in a statement.

He named doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, transit workers and more as those that fall into the essential category.

“Essential frontline workers sacrifice daily for our collective health and well-being, and I, along with my colleagues, are fully committed to supplying these heroes the financial support they deserve.”

EMPLOYERS WOULD APPLY

The pay increase would be the equivalent to an additional $13 per hour from when the COVID-19 public health emergency began Jan. 27 until Dec. 31, or until the maximum allowable premium pay increase is reached, according to a press release from Schumer’s office.

Those increases would be capped at $25,000 for essential frontline workers who make less than $200,000 per year and $5,000 for those who earn more than $200,000 annually.

People who sign on to be essential health and home care workers or first responders could receive a one-time $15,000 premium.

Employers in industries that engage in “essential work” would apply to the “Heroes Fund” to add pay to employees’ and independent contractors’ paychecks.

They would track these payments and return any unspent funds, the release said.

Per the proposal, the “Heroes Fund” would be fully federally-funded and essential frontline employees in the federal workforce would also be eligible.

“The definition of essential frontline workers for purposes of both the premium pay increase and the recruitment-retention incentive will be the subject of debate,” the press release said.

“Our goal is to make federal, state, tribal, local and private sector essential workers that are at risk eligible for this benefit.”

STEFANIK, GILLIBRAND SPEAK

Essential workers, particularly nurses, doctors and health care workers, are on the front lines of the crisis, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) said in a statement.

“The North Country is forever indebted to them and grateful for their work during this difficult time.

I support hazard pay for our health care workers as well as other essential workers, and strongly believe Congress must work on a bipartisan basis to deliver crucial support for those on the front lines working to keep our communities and families healthy and safe.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she strongly supported the proposed “Heroes Fund.”

“These brave men and women are putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives, support other essential workers and give food security to millions of Americans and New Yorkers.

They’ve earned our full support and then some.”

By Cara Chapman | Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y

Data Sharing Benefits Law Enforcement Investigations

In a large suburb in Maricopa County, Arizona, officers rushed to a multi-victim shooting where the victims were left dying in the front yard and sidewalk of a quiet, upscale community. Detectives were unable to find third party witnesses, video footage from residential security systems, or investigative leads. The crime scene, although bloody, was surprisingly clean from other evidence. Detectives had little to go on besides bullets retrieved from the victim’s body, a handful of spent shell casings left at the scene, and a few recorded dying declarations from one unidentified victim who recently moved to Arizona from out-of-state.

When detectives have little evidence to go on, they often resort back to “old school” low-tech investigative techniques like contacting informants, speaking with neighbors and scavenging data management programs in hopes of finding a needle-in-the-haystack.

There are over 18,000 police agencies in America, and most of them do a poor job communicating and sharing information. However, over the last decade, police departments realize they cannot solve many crimes using data collected only by their agency. As a result, many police departments are improving the way they collect, manage and share information with other agencies, including the use of records management systems (RMS), data collection systems and federal partnerships.

In this shooting case, detectives used various techniques and discovered this case was linked to nearly a dozen different violent crimes, including aggravated assaults, robberies and homicides. More importantly, they were able to connect this case to a string of other violent cases throughout the Southwestern United States and as far east as Kansas.

Criminals are not restricted by agency or state jurisdictions, officers should not be either. This article will explore how agencies can use technology software, as well as federal partnerships, to solve and prosecute inter-jurisdictional violent crimes.

RECORDS MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (RMS)

After tracking down few confidential reliable informants (CRIs) who had unsubstantiated information, detectives scoured their department’s RMS for any data that they could find to substantiate the CRI information in hopes of finding a potential suspect(s). Detectives found:

A civil traffic stop interview where an officer documented the driver and all passengers.
A call for service where an officer documented the driver and vehicle information.

Detectives were able to find a potential suspect, the rear passenger of contact #1. They also linked the suspect with the driver of contact #1. The driver of contact #1 was also the driver in contact #2, and the vehicle in contact #2 was the same vehicle seen by the CRI leaving the area of the shooting. Bingo. They now had reliable leads.

The key to any successful investigation is accurate, timely data collection and entry into the department’s RMS. Street officers collected and entered the information above the same day of the incident, which allowed detectives to find the information they needed when they needed it. Agencies should encourage officers to enter all officer contacts, including traffic stops and minor violations, into their agency’s RMS.

DATA COLLECTION SYSTEMS

Data collection systems are systems designed to compile information from individual agencies RMS, from across the country, into one easy to navigate, easy to use platform. These systems are also capable of gathering information from other programs like NIBIN, eTrace and ShotSpotter.

The purpose of data collection systems is to make finding inter-jurisdictional information quicker and easier.

Detectives dumped the information they found using their agency’s RMS into a different data collection system that was able to scour nearly a dozen agencies RMS programs. This is what they found:

The vehicle in contact #2 was linked to several armed robberies and one shooting in the Phoenix/Metro area.
(2) possible firearms
The driver of contact #2 was stopped and cited in the suspect car three times within 60 days
Two of the passengers from contact #1 were investigative leads in several arm robberies
The driver, passengers and suspect were linked to a violent gang
Valid phone numbers and addresses of suspects
Personal and next-of-kin information for the unidentified victim

From a simple search, detectives were finally able to see a clearer picture of what happened, why it happened, and who did it. But they still had a lot more work ahead.

FEDERAL PARTNERSHIP

Detectives, using the information collected using the data collection system, quickly realized that this case was connected to several out-of-state cases. These detectives were lucky to have federal agents from the DEA, FBI and ATF already assigned to their agency, which made information sharing and multi-agency collaboration easy. Federal agents, with guidance from state and local detectives, quickly assigned follow-up to non-Arizona field agents. Working together and as a team, detectives and agents were able to:

Definitively link the suspect as the shooter.
Positively ID the vehicle used in the shooting.
Positively ID the firearm used in the shooting.
Definitively link the firearm used in the shooting to several violent crimes in different states.
Classify the shooting as gang-related.

Active federal partnerships proved to be the key in this case, locking the suspect in as the shooter, documenting him as a violent gang member and closing the door on several unsolved violent crimes.

Detectives would not have been able to solve this case without accurate data collection and federal partnerships. Because this agency was diligent in training officers on how to collect and manage data, they were able to quickly find the information they needed to start the investigation. Agencies should focus on data collection for multi-agency use, and encourage officers to network with other local, state and federal agencies to form partnerships.

About the author

Joshua Lee is an active-duty police sergeant for the City of Mesa (Arizona) Police Department. Before promoting, Joshua served five years as a patrol officer and six years as a detective with the Organized Crime Section investigating civil asset forfeiture, white-​​collar financial crime and cryptocurrency crimes.

Joshua is a cryptocurrency, money laundering and dark web consultant for banks, financial institutions and accountants throughout Arizona. He also serves as one of Arizona’s subject matter experts on cryptocurrency crimes and money laundering.

Joshua holds a BA in Justice Studies, an MS in Legal Studies and an MA in Professional Writing. He has earned some of law enforcement’s top certifications, including the ACFE’s Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE) and the IAFC’s Certified Cyber Crimes Investigator (CCCI).

Joshua is also an adjunct professor at a large national university and smaller regional college teaching, law, criminal justice, government and English courses. He instructs police in-service training and teaches at the regional police academy.

Fulton Public Schools Offering Free Child Care for First Responders

The program will be held at Bush Elementary where bathrooms are close to the doors allowing students to wash their hands as soon as they walk in. This was a recommendation made by the state.
 

Fulton Public Schools will begin offering free childcare to children whose parents are first responders.

Fulton Public Schools superintendent Jacque Cowherd said the school district received a list from Governor Parson and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that included kids in the school district whose parents are first responders.

Fulton Public Schools’ list included 24 kids from 14 families. After identifying the families, Cowherd did a survey of the staff and found 14 to 16 individuals who were willing to be a part of the program. The individuals include teachers who Cowherd said will be able to help teach the students and a custodian who can keep the area clean.

Cowherd said the custodian’s husband is a firefighter and she has two kids in the medical field, so this program is close to her heart.

The volunteers will meet up on Monday and nursing staff will layout protocols to ensure the safety of those involved.

Cowherd said his biggest fear that too many people will get sick and they’ll have to shut down. In response to this fear, the program is working on gathering hand sanitizer and masks for people to wear.

Cowherd hopes they’ll be able to start as early as next Wednesday with six kids.

But, the program may end up assisting more kids as time goes on.

Cowherd said every w​​eek, the local school superintendents have a conversation and if the other districts have kids that fit the criteria for the free childcare the Fulton Public Schools will work to include them.

The program will be held at Bush Elementary where bathrooms are close to the doors allowing students to wash their hands as soon as they walk in. This was a recommendation made by the state. (Fulton Public Schools)

The program will run until May 21 and, as of now, the program will run from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

By Megan Smaltz | KRCG TV

Inmate Labor Force Works to Better Themselves, County

Nearly a year after the construction of the evidence storage facility at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Lincoln County Jail’s volunteer inmate labor force has been working on other projects designed to better the county – and themselves.

“Last year, She​​riff (John) Cottle built the Inmate Training Center, which is utilized by both inmates and disenfranchised citizens in Lincoln County to better their occupational skill set to land a great paying job,” said Lieutenant Andy Binder, public information officer. “Sheriff Cottle, employees and volunteer inmates started the second stage of construction on the Inmate Manufacturing Building. Inmates will take the skills they learned in the Inmate Training Center and apply to hands on construction of tiny homes.”

Yes, tiny homes.

Lincoln County’ inmate workforce has worked with different non-profit organizations and completed several projects. Several of those included renovating the Britton House, doing landscaping several churches and chopping wood for the Bridgeway Women’s Shelter.

“Look around Lincoln County. We are growing and in need of a qualified and trained workforce,” Binder said.

Binder also said the program has helped reduce the recidivism rate for inmates at the jail.

“(Cottle) has had a long standing vision of reducing recidivism in Lincoln County,” he said. “For many, recidivism is nothing more than lip service use by law enforcement to attempt to justify their policies and/or procedures and offers very little to a long-term strategy to reduce the number of inmates coming through the criminal justice system.

“Inmates with a future are far better off than inmates with none. Sheriff Cottle is showing the people of Lincoln County that (reversing) recidivism can be achieved, and is showing how a local work program can change the lives of families impacted with an incarcerated person.”

Inmates have to request training, or to work, and sign a volunteer form to be accepted into the workforce program. This training is open to all local and federal inmates. Federal inmates and/or inmates who transfer to prison can finish the training at their respective location. Lincoln County’s workforce training mirrors similar federal and state prisons.

Binder said when inmates volunteer for the workforce, they are enrolled in Telify (Missouri Jobs), MoJobs.gov and Connections for Success.

Connections for Success works and trains inmates in construction skills they will use in the Inmate Manufacturing Building. The program also includes curriculum to improve life skills, including balancing a budget, writing a resume and how to tackle personal programs in a more positive and meaningful way, according to Binder.

Once an inmate completes the program,  he earns his apprenticeship through the United States Department of Labor. If an inmate is released prior to completing the program he can still complete it on the civilian side of the training building.

Despite the fact the program is voluntary, or its success, critics might still consider the workforce labor program “cheap labor” or “modern-day slavery.” Binder would say it is giving Lincoln County’s inmates a chance at a better life once they’re released.

“We say, when citizens see (the inmates) working on beautification projects, working on buildings, doing non-for-profit projects, enhancing Lincoln County parks and cemeteries, stop and ask them if they consider themselves ‘modern-day slavery,’ which is a ridiculous statement to make,” Binder said. “ Ask the inmates if they feel like ‘cheap labor.’ Ask them.

“Inmates are giving back to their community in more ways than any of the naysayers. Doing something positive for once in their lives should be championed, not put down. We ignore the noise and keep moving forward because this is not about Sheriff John Cottle, it’s about changing broken lives and impacting Lincoln County in a positive way to enhance the quality of life for all the people.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to create the type of change the citizens of Lincoln County can see and believe.

“We want citizens to say, ‘that guy was nothing but trouble, but now he has completely changed his life and moving in a positive direction.’ Who does not like a success story?” Binder said. “Our goal is to ensure all people in Lincoln County can benefit from the programs Sheriff John Cottle has implemented. That has been the direction of the Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff John Cottle’s leadership. It’s taken a few years to get here but we are moving in the right direction for both inmates and for disenfranchised citizens in Lincoln County.”

By S​hawn Singleton | Lincoln News Now.com

Boone County Sheriff’s Office Implements Techniques Being Adopted by Hospital

Sheriff ​Dwayne ​Carey ​(center) ​​poses with ​ ​Jamie Callahan with Show-Me Ductless (left) and  ​Bill Wise with WCS Construction (rigt), ​the contractors who installed the disinfectant tent​, which will be used to disinfect staff and equipment  ​.(Boone County Sheriff’s Department)  

The Boone County Sheriff​’​s Department installed a disinfectant tent in the Sally Port at the Boone County Jail ​in early April in an effort to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the jail.

The disinfectant tent, which was installed by local contractors, projects a mist of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution on people walking through the tent.

All persons entering the Jail will now pass through the tent and the hydrogen peroxide disinfe​​cting mist prior to being allowed to enter the Boone County Jail.

On Friday​, April 10​, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department announced the same disinfectant stations were installed at both University Hospital and the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital.

​A​ Facebook post​ stated​,​ “Dr. Beckett and numerous staff members are excited to have another tool at their disposal to assist with disinfecting staff and equipment. We appreciate Dr. Beckett and the local contractors including us with this innovative idea to add to the numerous other protocols and procedures we have implemented to try and prevent COVID-19 from entering our Jail.”

See how it works by visiting https://www.facebook.com/BooneCountySD/videos/1426806330839488/

 
By Megan Smaltz | KRCG TV