Missouri Continues Drive to Increase Seat Belt Use

With seat belt usage in Missouri steadily rising over the past three years, highway safety professionals are hoping for continued progress and eventually seeing the state reach the national average of 90.7%. The most recent survey in Missouri conducted in 2019 indicated a usage of 87.7%.

To help encourage increased us​​age of seat belts, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is joining with state and local law enforcement May 18-31 for the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign. “Safety belts decrease your risk of dying in a crash by 45%,” said MoDOT Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “Last year alone, 880 lives were lost in Missouri crashes—64% of those required to be restrained were not at the time of the crash. If everyone buckled up, hundreds of lives would be saved in Missouri each year.”

The Coalition is asking drivers and passengers to ensure all occupants are buckled before driving, including having all children in the appropriate restraints. Missouri’s child safety seat survey revealed that when drivers were not buckled up, 33 percent of children were not restrained either, but when the driver was buckled up, 98 percent of children were also restrained. To ensure safety, make sure kids use a car seat that is appropriate for their height and weight. Infants should travel in rear-facing car seats until age 2 or until they grow out of the rear-facing car seat’s height and weight requirements. Children should travel riding in the back seat of the vehicle until age 13.

The Coalition also wants to remind drivers to slow down and put away their phones while behind the wheel to reduce the risk of a crash. “Even though a seat belt greatly increases your odds of surviving a crash, practicing safe driving behaviors can help prevent a crash from occurring in the first place. Please slow down, buckle up, and put your phone down,” said Hood.

To check that your car seat and child are restrained correctly, please contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area by calling 800-800-2358.

For more information about Click It or Ticket, visit www.saveMOlives.com or social media at Save MO Lives.

 
​Centralia Fireside Guide​

The Police Trainer: An Instructor Can Make or Break an Officer’s Performance on the Street

Training—it’s the vehicle that helped us become police officers, and in the most extreme cases, how we survived critical incidents. Much of what we learn is predicated upon two things: a willingness to learn the topic, and, the instructor’s ability to deliver the information. Both are important components to becoming a successful law enforcement officer. The first component, willingness to learn, is critically important. Having been a police trainer for more than twenty years, I’ve had the experience of observing students whose attitudes were an impediment to learning. Some guys thought they already knew the topic inside and out, while others were perhaps attending training for the wrong reason. Maybe the training venue was ideal, or they just wanted time away from the job. Still others were only at training simply because they were ordered to be there. And in some cases, a student simply did not like the instructor or his technique and thus said the heck with it all.

Many of you have heard it explained that training is like a buffet—you pick and choose what you like about the training and add it to your repertoire of skills. Whether it’s building entries, room clearing, firearms … you’ll find techniques that are helpful and some others that aren’t. All training is valuable, and the goal of both the instructor and attendees should be the same, learn at least one thing you can take with you to use on the job.

 As an instructor it’s important to be able to connect with your students. And one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t be a good instructor if you’re not also a good student. That means continually learning about the craft or topic you’re teaching. Researching it, talking about it with subject matter experts, and staying abreast of the latest educational tools utilized to impart knowledge to your attendees.

An effective police trainer must have “walked the walk” before he can “talk the talk.” In the first minute or two, cops will read the instructor as far as whether he/she knows what they’re talking about. Have they been there, or are they just teaching from slides someone else prepared? It’s called credibility. That initial assessment dictates whether or not they respect the instructor. Respect is the number one factor students look for in a teacher. According to a study at Austin Peay State University, respect is even more important than knowledge and the ability to communicate and engage. Respect dominates all other characteristics in effective teaching.

One of the least effective methods of teaching is the PowerPoint presentation. If you deliver this type of instruction, be prepared to hear sighs and negative comments throughout. Most often the PP results in boring unproductive classes. A much better alternative is videos that reinforce teaching points, or even inviting students to share their experiences with the class. Getting students engaged generates enthusiasm in both the instructor and attendees. In fact, when both are engaged the allotted time seems to fly by and class ends before most want it to.

Using humor during training is a good technique but remember it can also be a double-edged sword. It can be used as a segue to a lighter topic, or it can backfire and alienate some who were formerly on board with your delivery. Remember that humor is an important tool for coping with stress and anxiety. It can help you do your job better and have fun doing it.

Along with using humor in your instruction, being passionate about your topic can be a priceless attribute. Knowing your topic inside and out as a result of having practiced the technique or method, particularly, if it resulted in a life-changing experience, adds value. Students easily pick up on an instructor’s passion for teaching and feed off his energy.

In many cases, learning doesn’t happen until behavior changes. It doesn’t matter what you know if you can’t properly employ it. An opportunity to practice a newly learned skill will reinforce the likelihood of retention and on-the-job application.

Being an effective instructor also involves learning from feedback. If you don’t allow for either verbal or written feedback, you are at a real disadvantage. How can you possibly improve yourself if you don’t allow for feedback?

Think about the times you may have given a shooter on the range some feedback on their skill. Giving simple, concise feedback to a technique is the most effective way to help the shooter learn. Demeaning comments about the student, rather than corrective comments about technique, will always cause doubt and loss of confidence. The desire to make that shooter into the best he can be will be easily picked up on. Even if the instructor may have a personal bias toward the student, that should never be addressed during training. If need be, wait until training has ended to address personal issues.

Positive feedback is the key. Negative comments only tend to reinforce a student’s perception that he can’t do something. You must instill in your students your belief that they can master whatever technique you’re teaching, and that their success is your success. Your enthusiasm will translate to their enthusiasm and eventual mastery of the topic. Having faith in them will generate respect for you and make your job enjoyable and rewarding.

Stay Safe, Brothers and Sisters!

By John Wills | Officer.com

Photo by Frank Borelli

NHTSA to Offer Free Traffic Safety Training

If you’ve been following the news lately, you have heard we have lost several officers to traffic crashes and from being struck, especially while deploying spike strips.  This class addresses the need for officers to watch their speed and use good judgement during our daily activities, a​​nd discusses strategies to reduce the threats faced while driving and conducting traffic enforcement.  

Th​e​ 4-hour ​morning session, TOPS – Traffic Occupant Protection Strategies​ (800 – 1200 hours)​, is designed for officers and supervisors to increase understanding of how law enforcement officers save lives and prevent injuries by enforcing traffic laws. The class will also discuss:

· The toll traffic crashes have on the community

· Occupant protection laws

· Crash dynamics

· Special risks to law enforcement

· Effective methods of issuing citations

· Effects of high visibility traffic enforcement on preventing and clearing other crimes

​The afternoon session is titled ​Officer Roadside Safety (1300 – 1700 h​ours​)​.​

More officers are killed as a result of automobile accidents, struck by vehicles and intentional vehicle assaults than any other method. Participants of this 4-hour course will review and discuss the prevalence of officer accidents, traffic related accidents and deaths in recent history. Various contributing factors will be discussed including fatigue, equipment, staffing and individual officer experience.

This program will include specific recommendations on how to prevent and survive roadside incidents, including vehicle positioning, traffic stop recommendations, lane closure and traffic direction recommendations.  

The ​ entire training will run from 8 a.m.​​ to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 18 and will be hosted by the Palmyra Police Department in the Sesquicentennial Building at 621 Johnston Avenue in Palmyra.

There is no charge for this training. Both classes are POST Certified. 8 Hours POST credit will be provided by the Missouri Safety Center at no cost to the participant. Class size is limited. Contact Assistant Chief Ronald Peer at 573-769-5540 or rpeer@palmyrapd.com for further information. Bring your POST Number.

And please share this information with any agency that might be interested.

US Attorneys Announce St. Louis Task Force

Federal, state and local law enforcement are teaming up to create a new drug and organized crime task force in St. Louis, U.S. attorneys for the region announced Tuesday.

Officials say the goal of the Gateway Strike Force is to combine resources to investigate drug trafficking, murders and other crimes committed by gangs and cartels in the St. Louis area, both in Missouri and in nearby Illinois.

The strike force is under the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program, which is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice. Similar strike forces are in place in 18 other cities, including Kansas City, which announced its program in December.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Delworth said the strike force will initially get $600,000 for the program, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He said the strike force also will have greater access to tracking devices, wiretaps and undercover agents.

Gateway Strike Force investigations are geared toward federal prosecutions but officials say it could also lead to criminal prosecutions in state courts.

Groups participating in the strike force include the DEA, FBI, St. Louis County and city police, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri National Guard.

 
​Associated Press | News Tribune​

Law Enforcement: Critical Vehicle Safety Recall Information

Ford Motor Co. has announced a recall of approximately 55,000 vehicles, including 2020 Ford Expedition vehicles equipped with a police package for a defect that poses a significant risk to your safety.

CLICK HERE to use NHTSA’s VIN Lookup Tool to see if your vehicles are affected by this recall.

Specifically, Ford filed a recall notice with NHTSA for approximately 55,000 Ford Expedition vehicles for a safety defect with the transmission shift cable lock clip, which can allow the transmission to be in a different gear than selected by the driver. This inaccurate gear position display could cause unintended vehicle movement, increasing the risk of injury or a crash.

Ford will contact affected owners to take their vehicle to their nearest Ford dealership to schedule a FREE repair. As always, NHTSA encour​​ages all officers and their departments to report any safety concerns to the agency online or by calling our Vehicle Safety Hotline (Toll-Free: 1-888-327-4236 / Hearing Impaired (TTY): 1-800-424-9153).

Follow NHTSA on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest recalls and safety campaigns.

NHTSA’s VIN Lookup Tool allows users to enter their vehicle’s VIN or Make/Model to determine if there are any active recalls on the vehicle.

Absent Traffic Jams, Drivers Are Getting More Reckless

​​Emptier streets may be encouraging some drivers to flaunt traffic safety laws, including speed limits. Despite there being far fewer vehicles on the road due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, state highway safety officials across the country are seeing a severe spike in speeding. Many states have reported alarming speed increases, with som​​e noting a significant surge in vehicles clocked at 100 mph or more.

Being a safe driver should always be a priority, but during the coronavirus pandemic, traffic safety experts at the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) say it is more important than ever. “While COVID-19 is clearly our national priority, our traffic safety laws cannot be ignored,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Law enforcement officials have the same mission as health care providers — to save lives. If you must drive, buckle up, follow the posted speed limit and look out for pedestrians and bicyclists. Emergency rooms in many areas of the country are at capacity, and the last thing they need is additional strain from traffic crash victims.”

During the past month, pedestrian and bicycle traffic are reported to have increased exponentially, while motor vehicle traffic is down. Adkins noted that GHSA is encouraged to see so many communities across the country making roadways more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists. To keep roads safe for everyone, traffic safety officials nationwide are pleading with motorists to slow down and respect traffic safety laws.

Here are examples of the reckless driver behaviors reported recently:

  • In Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska and Utah, police have clocked highway speeds of over 100 mph.
  • State police in Florida and Iowa are reporting drivers going 20 to 40 miles over the posted speed limit.
  • In New York City, despite far fewer vehicles on the road, the city’s automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets citywide on March 27, or nearly double the 12,672 tickets issued daily a month earlier.
  • In Los Angeles, speeds are up by as much as 30% on some streets, prompting changes to traffic lights and pedestrian walk signals.
  • Some states are finding reduced crash rates but more serious crashes. In Massachusetts, the fatality rate for car crashes is rising, and in Nevada and Rhode Island, state officials note pedestrian fatalities are rising.
  • In Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities have more than doubled compared to the same time period in previous years. Half those deaths were related to speeding or to careless or negligent driving.



“During the past two months, Americans nationwide have shown that we are all willing to do the right thing to protect ourselves and each other,” said Pam Shadel Fischer, GHSA’s Senior Director of External Engagement and Special Projects. “We must maintain that same sense of urgency when it comes to the road. Drivers need to respect the law and look out for other road users, so that we can prevent the needless loss of life now and moving forward.”

A 2019 report on speeding by GHSA, “Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge,” highlights excessive vehicle speed as a persistent factor in nearly one-third of all motor vehicle-related fatalities, while a 2020 GHSA report on pedestrian fatalities, published in February, finds that pedestrians now account for 17% of all traffic-related fatalities.

Despite the fact that a significant percentage of all crashes are speeding-related, speeding is not given enough attention as a traffic safety issue and is deemed culturally acceptable by the motoring public. To combat this problem, GHSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. (NRSF) have partnered to provide up to $200,000 in grant funding to a community to develop, implement and evaluate a speed management pilot program. The organizations are looking for a pilot program that can be scaled nationally and plan to announce the grant winner in May.

About GHSA
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.

High School Student 3D Prints Face Shields for Law Enforcement, Others

Introducing Project Face Shield! The CSA, CPS, and local 16-year-old future engineer Konnar Jones is switching from respirators to making face shields. Hospitals and first responders are asking for these shields – 5,000 or more are needed. The group is also asking other local 3D print owners to join them in their efforts. The website with the shield files is attached. The group is also  working on protocol for getting the shields shipped to them for distribution. Information will be posted soon on the Columbia STEM Alliance website…
Http://www.columbiastemalliance.com

https://www.prusa3d.com/covid19/

 

Healthcare providers biggest challenge is still a shortage of personal protective equipment.

One Columbia high school student saw the need in the community and he printed a solution.

Konnar Jones is 3D printing face shields to donate to hospitals and first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

He prints 30 face shields a day with 24/7 printing. Jones said he had to go through several design changes.

“It’s just hours and days worth of changes,” Jones said.

He’s working with Executive Director of the Columbia Stem Alliance Craig Adams. Their goal is to print 6,000 face shields.

Adams said the hard part is finding things like elastic, and the acetate material for the visor.

“It’s an awesome feeling to be able to help people. My family is a law enforcement family. So that’s just what we do. I’m finally being able to help people with the skills that I have. It’s just rewarding and I love it,” Jones said.

Adams said Jones has been 3D printing since the fifth grade.

“It’s impressive. He’s a really special individual. He was driven from an early age to do this. He’s got some great training from the career center and the classes he’s taken,” Adams said.

Adams said he doesn’t look at Jones as a 16 year old anymore. He said he views Jones as a colleague.

“Its phenomenal to see what somebody can do when they’ve got the skill and they’ve got the motivation and the curiosity that it takes to do that,” Adams said.

Jones said he would like more people to join the project.

If you’d like to donate money, materials or 3D print face shields reach out to Craig Adams craigadams1965@gmail.com.

For more information please visit Columbia Stem Alliance’s website and Facebook page.The grou

Hospitals Now Allowed to Share COVID-19 Patient Info with First Responders

An FDNY provider wears personal protective equipment outside a COVID-19 testing site at Elmhurst Hospital Center in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Many hospitals and healthcare facilities have long resisted sharing any protected health information (PHI) about patients with their public safety partners – even when sharing that important information was permissible under HIPAA. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (which enforces HIPAA) has issued important guidance to those facilities that should help clear the ​​way for better information sharing about COVID-19 infected patients with law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and EMS agencies.

The March 24, 2020, guidance clarifies that the HIPAA privacy rule permits a covered entity (e.g., hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities) to disclose the PHI of an individual who has been infected with or exposed to, COVID-19, with law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities. The circumstances described in the guidance are exceptions to the general rule that covered entities may not disclose PHI to others without authorization of the patient and are not new – they’ve always been in the regulations:

  • When the disclosure is needed to provide treatment. Permits disclosure of PHI about an individual who has COVID-19 to EMS personnel who will provide treatment while transporting the patient to a hospital emergency department or other location.
  • When notification is required by law. Permits disclose of PHI about an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 in accordance with a state law requiring the reporting of confirmed or suspected cases of infectious disease to public health officials.
  • To notify a public health authority in order to prevent or control the spread of disease. Permits disclosure of PHI to a public health authority (such as the CDC, or state, tribal, local and territorial public health departments) that is authorized by law to collect or receive PHI for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability, including for public health surveillance, public health investigations and public health interventions.
  • When first responders may be at risk of infection. Permits disclosure of PHI to a first responder who may have been exposed to COVID-19, or may otherwise be at risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, if the covered entity is authorized by law to notify persons as necessary in the conduct of a public health intervention or investigation. HIPAA permits a county health department to disclose PHI to a police officer or other person who may have had contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, for purposes of preventing or controlling the spread of COVID-19.

When the disclosure of PHI to first responders is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public. This exception has not been used often under HIPAA as it is ordinarily a rare occurrence when it would be invoked – rare until now that is, with a nationwide pandemic of a dangerous and highly contagious virus! This exception permits disclosure of PHI to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a person or the public, when the disclosure is made to someone they believe can prevent or lessen the threat, which may include the target of the threat.

This exception permits a covered entity, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, to disclose PHI about patients – who have tested positive for COVID-19 – to fire department personnel, paramedics, EMTs, ambulance services and others charged with protecting the health or safety of the public. To make the disclosure, the covered entity must have a good faith belief that the disclosure is necessary to prevent or minimize the threat of imminent exposure to such personnel in the discharge of their duties. This exception gives hospitals and any medical facility receiving an EMS patient the authority to share with that EMS agency and its personnel who transported the patient whether the patient was a positive COVID-19 patient, without the authorization of the patient.

ONLY SHARE PRIVATE HEALTH INFORMATION THAT IS NECESSARY TO SHARE

One important consideration, as explained in the guidance, is that except when required by law or for treatment disclosures, a covered entity must make reasonable efforts to limit the information disclosed to that which is the “minimum necessary” amount to accomplish the purpose for the disclosure. For example, in sharing PHI about a positive COVID-19 patient, it would likely not be necessary to share information about the patient’s other diagnoses or non-contagious medical conditions.

THE HIPAA GUIDANCE PROVIDES REAL-LIFE EMS EXAMPLES

OCR specifically uses two common EMS examples in explaining the regulations:

Example 1: A covered entity, such as a hospital, may provide a list of the names and addresses of all individuals it knows to have tested positive, or received treatment, for COVID-19 to an EMS dispatch [center] for use on a per-call basis. The EMS dispatch [center] would be allowed to use information on the list to inform EMS personnel who are responding to any particular emergency call so that they can take extra precautions or use personal protective equipment (PPE).

Under this example, the OCR states that a covered entity should not post the contents of such a list publicly, like on the EMS agency’s website or through distribution to the media. A covered entity also should not distribute compiled lists of individuals who are COVID-19 positive to EMS personnel. Instead, it should disclose only an individual patient’s information on a “per-call basis.” Sharing the lists or disclosing them publicly would not ordinarily constitute the minimum necessary amount of information to accomplish the purpose of the disclosure (i.e., protecting the health and safety of the first responders from infectious disease for each particular call).

Example 2: A 911 call center may ask screening questions of all callers, for example, their temperature, or whether they have a cough or difficulty breathing, to identify potential cases of COVID-19. The call center is permitted to inform a police officer being dispatched to the scene of the name, address and screening results of the persons who may be encountered so that the officer can take extra precautions or use PPE to lessen the officer’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, even if the subject of the dispatch is for a non-medical situation and even if the dispatch center is a covered entity under HIPAA. (And most public agency 911 centers are not covered entities under HIPAA, so the HIPAA regulations would likely not apply to them).

This example would most certainly permit a situation where the 911 center shared essential information about a COVID-19 patient with any responding EMS or first responder entity. But what information may be shared with first responders and EMS? The minimum amount of information that would be necessary so that responders may take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of exposure, such as PPE including masks and face shields. OCR says this may also include the patient’s name and the results of their COVID-19 screening.

HOSPITALS MAY SHARE PRIVATE HEALTH INFORMATION WITH EMS

These rules and the guidance are very helpful in ensuring that EMS agencies have access to essential information about contagious patients they transport. They help take away the “hide behind HIPAA” approach that some hospitals and facilities have followed to completely shut down any sharing of patient information with EMS. The problem is that this is a permissive regulation – meaning that hospitals “may” share this PHI with EMS – but they are not required to do so.

ENTER RYAN WHITE

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 is a federal law named in honor of an Indiana teenager who lost his life to AIDS after contracting the disease through a tainted blood transfusion. The act requires a medical facility to notify, upon request, an emergency response agency if a patient transported by that agency to the medical facility is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening infectious disease. The notification provisions are now contained in the Public Health Services Law of 2019, Title 26, Part G. It’s been applied in the context of AIDS, Ebola and SARS in the past.

But does the Ryan White Law apply to hospitals and this COVID-19 pandemic? We believe that it does – and so does nationally known EMS infection control expert and author Katherine West, BSN, MSEd. According to West, “COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is in the SARS-CoV family. SARS-CoV and Novel Influenza A viruses are on the CDC list of Potentially Life-Threatening Infectious Diseases: Routinely Transmitted Through Aerosolized Droplet Means which we believe would encompass this novel coronavirus. As such, we believe COVID-19 notifications would be covered by the Ryan White Law.” In that case, West explains, “hospitals would be required to notify the EMS agency designated infection control officer, and then that officer would need to determine whether an exposure to EMS agency personnel actually occurred.”

To help ensure the health and safety of all personnel, EMS agencies should make sure that all pertinent assessment and medical history information is thoroughly documented on the patient care report – especially any signs or symptoms that a patient may have that could indicate active or potential infection with the COVID-19 disease. All EMS field personnel must promptly report a potential COVID-19 patient exposure to a supervisor as well as hospital personnel. Hopefully, with better knowledge about what’s permitted under HIPAA, combined with an understanding of the need to share COVID-19 patient information with EMS providers, hospitals and medical facilities can do the right thing to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the EMS community.

The OCR Guidance can be found here.

 
By Steve Wirth, Esq., EMT-P | Policeone.com 

Sheriffs Carry the Concerns of their Citizens to the Capitol

Fifty-some sheriffs visited the state capitol March 12 to remind lawmakers that the challenges facing the sheriffs are real, that something needs to be done and that they need legislators’ help to make the needed changes.

​​Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish, the president of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, told the group of legislators and media representatives gathered in the House of Representatives Lounge that 2019 may go down in history as one of the worst years for sheriffs who are attempting to enforce the rule of law and protect the local law-abiding tax payers they serve.

“Sheriffs have been concerned many years – 2019 was just the culmination that the justice system has become too offender-centered. Some well-intentioned people have become too focused on those committing the crimes while not necessarily focusing on the neighborhoods they are affecting and the victims the sheriffs are committed to fighting for,” he said.

Sheriff Parrish summarized some of the challenges they’re facing:

▪ In March, 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that board bills should not be considered court costs – even though that had been the practice for 100 years.

▪ The Missouri Bond Reform, which was ordered December 2018 and became effective July 1, 2019, prohibits judges from keeping defendants in jail if they can’t afford bail. Instead, those defendants, many of whom are “career criminals,” are to be released on their own signature with only a ticket, which, according to sheriffs, allows them to continue to victimize their communities.

▪ State statute requires sheriffs to accept prisoners or face a misdemeanor, and the state is to reimburse counties $22.58 per day for holding those prisoners. However, Missouri is falling further and further behind in paying the jail per diems. As of December 2019, the state owed counties – and ultimately county taxpayers – an estimated $33.4 million.

▪ Sheriffs are at odds with the Missouri Department of Corrections because those sheriffs believe once an offender is sentenced to prison, he or she should not on Day 1 be considered for conditional early release. In many cases, inmates are serving one to three months per year sentenced.

Sheriff Parrish said they hear too often “’What is wrong with society?’ and ‘Why doesn’t society do more for the career criminal?’ We say they can’t afford court costs, we say they can’t afford the board bill, we say they can’t be in jail very long instead of just reminding ourselves that there’s a very simple way – a very simple way – to not have to do those things. Don’t violate the law. I know our constituents believe that if someone does violate the law, we should be firm and fair but also hold them accountable.”

Cape Girardeau County Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson went into more detail about jail per diems.

“We, as sheriffs, hear from our citizens every day about how we are handling our budgets – their tax dollars,” she said, reminding those present that their citizens, their constituents, their voters were the same citizens, constituents and voters that the legislators represent. “And they want to know how you are handling their tax dollars. When the state does not pay its bills, it affects not only the sheriffs but the citizens in the lost revenues to our communities.”

Sheriff Dickerson explained that although the rate has fluctuated over the years, since 1976, the state, under Missouri Statute 221.105 has paid per diem for all inmates housed in county jails.

“The state acknowledges that their daily cost for handling inmates is $65 a day. The state allows its own employees a per diem for meals of $34 a day. But the per diem of inmates is just $22.58. The state is also using local jails to hold parole offenders. It used to be that if someone violated their parole, they immediately went back to the Department of Corrections. Today those offenders are staying in the county jails waiting on hearings, waiting on the steps the Department of Corrections will take many times to be released back into the community without any further sentencing or time.”

Sheriff Dickerson also said 1996 was the last time the Missouri legislature and the governor’s office officially recognized that public safety is a partnership between the local, county and state government. Since that time, funding has been directed at other programs, causing the arrearage to grow. She produced a study conducted in 2010 by the National Association of Counties refuting DOC statements that Missouri is the only state that charges room and board. Instead, although different formulas are used, every state pays per diem. She also said a 2015 program evaluation of county per diem payments completed by the DOC showed they had studied the issue, although its officials claimed otherwise.

“The state funding must be appropriated to pay the bills owed by the state and the per diem should be the responsibility of the state,” she said.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott spoke next, discussing concerns about the direction taken by the DOC and the Division of Probation and Parole.

“Probation issues are a continued failure from the top of this organization. Our local P&P officers’ hands are being tied by not being able to recommend revocation. I talked to our circuit judge about three hours ago. He told me he sees offenders with 15 to 20 violations with no recommendation for revocation from Probation and Parole. We have proof that offenders are going to the P&P office, taking urine tests, showing positive for methamphetamine, then they simply walk out the door, get into a vehicle and drive off. This is a public safety issue. This puts Missouri’s citizens’ lives in danger every day,” he said, reiterating that those scenarios were not the fault of the P&P officer but rather from leadership in the DOC.

Sheriff Arnott also criticized the practice of rewarding parolees with gift cards for showing up on time at appointments.

“This is ridiculous! Do you know what the reward is? Not being locked up in jail and not going to prison. This philosophy has to change. If we want to hand out gift cards, let’s give them to Missourians who have been victimized – not criminals. We must remember that our entire justice system is based around taking care of victims. We want our message to be clear. Missouri’s sheriffs will continue to be vigilant and tough on crime but legislators, we need your assistance to change the philosophy of this department,” he said.

Johnson County Sheriff Scott Munsterman addressed the group next, talking about bond reform.

“In the reform, they labeled drugs and drug offenders as ‘non-violent crime.’ I disagree. Drug offenders are not only a danger to themselves, they are also a danger to the communities we represent. During investigations of crimes in our communities, we’re dealing with drug offenders every day and see that they’re tied in with burglaries, car larcenies, and simple property crimes. Drug offenders are utilizing citizens’ assets to help supplement their addiction,” he said, adding that although they arrest the offenders, reforms require sheriffs to simply issue a summons to appear in court and then release them back into the community where they continue to reoffend.

And individuals are not following through and showing up in court. Sheriff Munsterman said since the new rules went into effect, the failure to appear rate in Johnson County has increased 28 percent. In neighboring Cass County, that number jumped 48 percent.

He closed by sharing a statement from a friend that “non-violent” does not mean “non-dangerous,” stressing that those who were breaking into cars and homes to steal and supplement their drug addictions were dangerous and needed to be behind bars.

“To sum up, we are here to protect the local law-abiding tax payer,” Sheriff Parrish said, adding that sheriffs recognize and respect those who are assisting offenders in becoming better citizens. “But the pendulum has swung too far. It’s very simple to not have to follow any guidelines. Follow the law.”
 
By Nancy Zoellner

Missouri Sheriffs Rally at the State Capitol in Jefferson City

Some 50 sheriffs stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Missouri’s capitol on Wednesday, saying the new rules from the Missouri Supreme Court must change – and that they needed lawmakers’ help in accomplishing that.

The sheriffs shared how the new rules favor criminals instead of Missouri’s law-abiding citizens and reminded lawmakers that the justice system was based on taking care of victims.

Sheriffs also discussed how the state has fallen behind in payment of jail per diems – to the tune of $33.4 million as of December 2019.