A police officer was injured Thursday afternoon while trying to subdue a man wanted in connection with a criminal investigation. But officials believe the officer’s ballistic vest protected him from a more serious — or potentially fatal injury.
Detective Sgt. David Dean, department spokesman, said Patrolman Jeffery Hoover suffered lacerations when he was shoved through a plate glass window during a struggle with the suspect, identified as Elmer D. Jamison, 29, of 250 8th St.
The county police will equip all uniformed officers with Tasers in the coming weeks, using $276,900 in grant money to more than double its number of the electroshock weapons.
The department is purchasing 312 Tasers at $799 per weapon, plus cartridge and training costs, according to officials and a memorandum filed with the St. Louis County Council.
County officers currently have 302 Tasers assigned to officers, including crisis-intervention and patrol officers. The additional purchase will allow all uniformed officers and some detectives immediate access to the weapons.
A Taser is designed to briefly incapacitate a person up to 21 feet away by firing two barbed darts that carry 50,000 volts of electricity through wires trailing behind. Tasers are used by thousands of law enforcement agencies, including many in the St. Louis area.
Last summer, police in the city of St. Louis used $95,000 to buy additional Tasers. That department now has 151. Police in St. Charles, Clayton Florissant, Collinsville and a number of other communities in the region have used the weapons for years.
St. Louis County police are using part of a federal grant, which is separate from stimulus funds that many police departments are seeking to hire more officers.
Decisions on which departments will receive those funds will not be made for another month or two, officials said.
Many police officers appreciate Tasers as a generally nonlethal way to control violent suspects with minimal injury to anyone.
The devices have been used in several cases in which suspects died of what medical examiners later said was something else.
Samuel DeBoise, 29, was shocked twice by St. Louis County officers in July in the 6100 block of Lake Paddock Drive. DeBoise died later in the day, but the medical examiner’s office said the Taser did not cause his death. DeBoise, who had schizophrenia, died of “excited delirium” because of an acute psychotic episode, according to the medical examiner.
At least six other people have died after being shocked by Tasers over the past four years in the St. Louis area, and medical examiners have said the deaths were mainly the result of other factors, such as pre-existing health conditions, an agitated state or the presence of drugs or alcohol.
About 200 people tearfully gathered outside the Hollywood police station on Friday morning to honor the memory of Officer Alex Del Rio, who was killed late last year in a fiery car wreck.
In addition to Del Rio, mourners commemorated the city’s other five officers who have been killed in the line of duty over the years. They include Officer Owen Coleman, (killed Jan. 25, 1926), Officer Henry T. Minard, (Nov. 18, 1972), Officer Byron W. Riley, (Aug. 30, 1973), Officer Phillip C. Yourman, ( Aug. 30, 1973), and Officer Frankie M. Shivers, (Sept. 6, 1982).
Del Rio, 31, died Nov. 22 after his cruiser hit a tree on Sheridan Street and erupted in flames.
His mother, Miriam Fernandez, wept as a bugle player played Taps and three police helicopters flew over the service.
Police Chief Chad Wagner told attendees that the names of the six fallen officers will now be placed on a
license plate that will adorn the front of every Hollywood police vehicle.
“Every day of the year, everyone would be able to remember those officers. Their names will be riding with every officer out there on a daily basis,” said Wagner.
Effie Davis, mother of slain Officer Frankie Shivers, was also in the crowd. Shivers was gunned down in 1982 while trying to rescue a mentally ill woman from a burning car.
“I still get emotional,” said Davis. “It’s great that my baby’s life is still remembered.”
The city’s mayor and commissioners attended the service, despite strong words from the police union earlier this week that they would not be welcome if they supported outsourcing the police force. The commission is studying how much could be saved by outsourcing all of the city departments.
Only Commissioner Fran Russo, who was out of town to attend an illness in the family, did not attend.
A fundraiser sponsored by the Fairground Neighborhood Association is designed to help keep members of the Des Moines Police Department’s K-9 unit safe.
The neighborhood association hopes to raise enough money to donate at least one bulletproof vest for the unit’s dogs. Each vest costs between $900 and $1,000, said Tina Payton, president of the association.
“This is just our little way of saying ‘thank you for all that you do’ in a unique way,” Payton said.
The Des Moines Police K-9 patrol unit is made up of five canine teams, but has vests for only four dogs, said officer Chris Mahlstadt, a member of the unit. They found themselves short when a new dog joined the team less than a year ago, he said.
The dogs have numerous roles: tracking missing adults and children, as well as criminal suspects; evidence and building searches; drug detection; and criminal apprehension. The vests are made to protect dogs from bullets and other weapons, just like those made for the officers, Mahlstadt said.
It is not often that the dogs are injured, but it does occur, he said. Several years ago, one of the department’s dogs was shot.
“That kind of brings home the point to the citizens how important the vests are,” he said. “We put them in danger based on what they’re called upon to do.”
It was Fairground resident Jill Pearson who first learned of the department’s need for more vests. A dog owner herself, Pearson said she felt compelled to help out.
“I think they ought to be as well protected as the officers are,” she said.
Response has been high since the neighborhood association kicked off the fundraiser last week, Payton said. The association has placed donation jars at businesses in the Fairgrounds neighborhood. The fundraiser will run until the association’s May meeting.
“When it comes to the services the K-9 unit provides specifically, it is easy to forget about the little things that make their jobs easier,” Payton said. “We want to spread the word that this is our time to give back.”
Many pets are living longer these days. That’s good news, but it also means cancer rates among pets are going up. Nearly half of all dogs get cancer at some point in their lives. Luckily, there’s now a facility in Las Vegas where cutting edge medicine is being practiced to resolve the deadliest and most complicated veterinary challenges.
It’s called the Veterinary Referral Center. There’s nothing else like it in the state. It’s the place where other vets send their trickiest cases.
In every cage and every corner of the center, there’s a story that will break your heart. Autumn is usually the orneriest of cats, but the cancer in her liver looks like it has spread to her bones, so she’s less of a pistol than normal.
One dog sacked out on the floor is waiting to have his leg amputated so the tumor doesn’t spread further.
Sad faces — scared faces — dogs and cats on their last legs and others on the mend, looking a bit embarrassed by their hospital garb.
Nearly every case that comes to Veterinarian Dave Mason is a referral from other vets in town. This is where the special cases are sent, the medical mysteries and lost causes, because the center is a cutting edge hospital facility.
“It’s exactly the same — looks the same — same equipment, same anesthetic, basically the same protocols as well. We pretty much consider that we can do everything the human doctors can do,” said Dr. Mason.
That means they have a CAT scan for cats and dogs, digital x-ray capabilities and an MRI machine made especially for animals. “It’s actually one of only seven or eight in the country,” said Mason.
A pooch on the operating table is getting some screws put in his neck to fix a birth defect that made it hard for him to walk. Just a couple of days after the surgery, he was up and moving around.
The oncology room is the only one of its kind in southern Nevada. For animals like Autumn, the odds are pretty long, but at a minimum, the staff knows how to make her final days as pain free as possible.
“We can cure some of them, but for a lot of them it’s to buy more time, keep them comfortable and as good as can be for as long as possible,” said Dr. Mason.
The center has its own blood bank too, and has its own blood drives so there’s a supply on hand for dog and cat surgeries. Every day, gut-wrenching stories unfold but profound successes as well.
“I haven’t had one day as a veterinarian that I wished I did something different. Most of the time, with people’s attraction to their animals and the way they are to them, most people leave here smiling, so I think we’ve done a really good job,” said Mason.
One goal is to not even let the animals know they’re being treated for something — therapy disguised as chasing a ball around the backyard.
Xandor is a very special patient — a member of the Metro K9 Unit rehabbing a torn ACL. Over the next few months, Xandor will get to know Vet Tech Maria Shinas pretty well. The center is filled with shiny, high tech equipment, but it all boils down to caring people who got into the business because they love animals.
“My mind never stops working. Like even this morning, I’m thinking, ‘What do I have to do?’” said Shinas. “It’s very satisfying. This is a job we work intimately with the owners. They are right here with us and we show them the exercises to do right here at home and we feel good about it.”
As the glass tank fills with water, Xandor can barely contain his enthusiastic moans. He’s got a lockjaw grip of a green rubber kitty and seems to think this is a game, not therapy, even when the treadmill starts up.
“When he’s at work and out doing his thing, he’s a totally different dog,” said Xandor’s handler, Metro K9 Officer Rick Vorce.
And it’s his work that led Xandor to the center. He and Vorce are key members of the nationally ranked K9 unit, who often partner with Metro’s SWAT Team. Xander is a 10-year-old Belgian Malinois, a very serious hombre when he’s on duty.
“In the six years we’ve been together, he’s found about 80 bad guys, anywhere from people who’ve committed murder, bank robbers, car thieves, burglars,” said Vorce.
While in pursuit of stabbing suspect a few months ago, Xandor got a little carried away and tore his ACL. “He decided to play wonder dog and he decided to jump over my head and said, ‘Look Dad, I can fly,’” said Vorce.
He cornered the bad guy but was lame days later. Vorce took him to the vet, the vet referred him to the center.
“Frankly, if I was in trouble, I’d want him to rescue me. I have a special place in my heart for Xandor,” said Shinas.
After a dip and a treadmill trot, Xandor is given a multi-person massage — we should all have days like this. Then officer Vorce puts him thru some paces in a makeshift obstacle course.
Down the hall, one of Xandor’s K9 colleagues is grappling with a different challenge. His name is Rosco, and he’s got a nose for trouble.
“When you pass a dumpster, you smell trash. The dog will pass a dumpster and he’ll smell every individual odor in there. He’ll smell what toppings are on that piece of pizza on the top of the trash. He’ll smell the dirty diaper, the tennis shoe,” said Metro K9 Officer Scott Murray.
Roscoe, a 10-year-old Springer Spaniel, is a superstar drug sniffer, able to ferret out the most secretive hiding places. Like the other K9 officers, Murray lives with his police dogs. He and Officer Vorce spend more time with their canine partners than with their spouses, and they learn to deal with the good and the bad.
For Roscoe, the news is bad. “I was petting him on the couch one day and I was scratching the back of his leg and noticed a lump,” said Officer Murray.
The lump was cancer — lymphoma.
Veterinarian Andrew Vaughan has been overseeing chemotherapy for Roscoe. The trickiest part for a dog like this one is to make sure the treatment isn’t worse than the disease. It’s important that Roscoe is able to keep on working, not only for the community, but for himself.
“So much of their life is spent working, so we try to make sure they don’t lose that component of their lifestyle because that’s what they love doing. That’s what they live for,” said Dr. Vaughan.
Both Roscoe and Xandor are at an age when some departments retire their dogs, especially dogs that have serious health issues. Officer Murray says there was never a question of getting rid of these two. “Our department is very supportive of hurt animals. They don’t just throw them under the bus,” he said.
The Vet Referral Center sees a lot of injured police dogs. Some of the treatments and therapies can be expensive, but the alternative could be more costly. “Getting those animals back to work and not having to buy new dogs and train them, it’s a huge benefit to the taxpayers as well,” said Dr. Mason.
Not to mention that it’s great to have these guys around.
Since this story was taped, Xandor is already back at work and tracking down suspects. Roscoe is still taking it easy but his handler says he could be back on the job very soon. The chemotherapy hasn’t affected his ability to sniff out crime.
The Brookdale-Sterling House of Bloomington will put on a fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Monroe County Humane Association on Saturday.
The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. at Sterling House, 3802 S. Sare Road.
For a small fee, participants can enter their dog in any of the three contests: “Most Talented Canine,” “Best Dressed Canine” and “Looks Most Like Owner.”
As an owner of four dogs and as the sales marketing manager of Sterling House, event organizer Kelli Robinette said both causes hit close to home.
“As a community that serves the elderly, we see the effects of Alzheimer’s every day,” she said. “Some of our residents are affected by it and it is pretty near and dear to our hearts. Also, I love dogs, and everyone here does as well, so I thought it would be a neat idea to expand the fundraiser a little so it benefits both causes.”
In addition to the canine contests, attendees will have the opportunity to meet the newest Bloomington Police Department K-9 officer and other adoptable dogs from the animal shelter.
During the event, the Bloomington Indiana Kennel Club will be there to put on an American Kennel Club puppy match, a dog show for puppies under one year.
There will be prizes, raffles and refreshments for sale. The prizes will be donated by London Dog, T & T Pet Food & Supply, Crystal Pure Water Company, Panera Bread, The Bark magazine and many others.
If weather permits, Robinette said she expects a great turnout at the Sterling House’s inaugural canine contest fundraiser.
“It is for such good causes and the prizes are tremendous,” she said. “The community has been very generous and we are very appreciative that tons of people stepped up to the plate in making their donations.”
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department’s newest member is hard at work, and he’s doing it all for a tennis ball.
Two months ago, Sheriff Lou Roberts decided a K-9 unit would be an asset to the agency. Now, a deputy and his new dog are working to cut down on drugs in Jackson County.
The K-9 unit started with a selection process from interested deputies. They chose Deputy Sean Hill, who has been with the agency for three years. He then picked out the dog, Homer, a 2-year-old black Labrador.
Homer had about 16 weeks of training before he began working with his new partner. After that, Homer and Deputy Hill went through an intensive two week training session together.
Hill said Homer is a great tool to the agency, providing a service none of the deputies can.
“Things that we normally couldn’t find, or you know, that’s what he’s built for, that’s what he’s been trained for, and he can find them a lot better than we can,” Hill said.
Homer lives with Deputy Hill, who says the dog has become more than just a co-worker.
“Our normal routine is to wake up in the morning, we go out, I feed him, we play ball,” Hill said
Even though Hill spends time playing with Homer at his house, Homer knows when it’s time to go to work because of a simple tennis ball.
“He gets a tennis ball for his reward when he’s at work. When he indicates to me that the odor narcotics have been there, that’s the only time he ever gets that ball, and that’s all he wants is that ball,” Hill explained. “It’s all a game to him, so when he comes out here he thinks, ‘Hey, if I do this, if I find this, I get this.’ So when he finds it, he knows he gets his toys.”
The K-9 Unit is most often used in traffic stops. To keep his skills sharp, Homer and Deputy Hill train on cars just as if it were a real situation, using real drugs.
Sheriff Lou Roberts said many of the drug-related arrests they’ve made start with a traffic stop, so Homer and his handler Deputy Hill work in conjunction with officers performing speeding stops.
Homer has been on the job for about two months. In that time, he’s assisted with six drug arrests, including one last week that led officers to 15 pounds of marijuana and six grams of methamphetamine. He’s also found more than 140 grams of marijuana and one gram of cocaine just from vehicle searches.
The new “Who’s in Jail” Web site of the La Crosse Sheriff’s Department gives the public access to a list of jail prisoners, and that’s not all.
Besides age and hometown, the listing for each inmate includes a mug shot, booking date, amount of bond and information on charges or other reasons the person is behind bars.
Sheriff Steve Helgeson said the site should satisfy the interest of the public in who is in jail and why.
The site is updated when inmates are booked into jail and when they’re released.
The site is at lacrossecounty.org/sheriff.
The first thing Maryland State Trooper John Peach does when asked about the dangers of flying medical helicopters is to take out his cell phone with a picture of his wife, Kate, and 2-year-old daughter Elizabeth. He held up the image for me as he prepared his 38-foot Dauphin craft for his next call while parked in a hangar at Martin State Airport this week.
He readily acknowledges that after the crash last September that killed two of his friends, pilot Stephen H. Bunker and Trooper Mickey C. Lippy, along with a volunteer emergency medical technician and a patient, in heavy fog in Prince George’s County, he’s a bit more wary of going out. “It was a little difficult at first,” he told me.
Peach told me that his daughter, even at such a young age, points to the sky every time a helicopter soars overhead. She’s seen where her daddy works, but she certainly doesn’t yet understand the dangers.
Still, he trusts his abilities and the choppers he flies: “If I didn’t think it was safe, I wouldn’t be here.”
Rain and wind on this Wednesday morning had everyone in the aviation office thinking back to the day Trooper 2 went down. The crash sparked a political debate over whether the medevac fleet should be privatized and whether pilots had been transporting too many patients who didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries.
I visited with troopers, pilots and maintenance workers at the aviation unit’s headquarters ahead of Friday’s Fallen Heroes Day ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium to honor law enforcement officials from around the state who have been killed in the line of duty.
Lt. Walter A. Kerr is scheduled to fly a helicopter over the cemetery to honor the lives lost, and he and others took turns telling stories of lives they’ve saved.
They recalled pilots who a number of years ago hovered over a burning Baltimore high-rise to hoist stranded residents to safety, and performing a similar maneuver over a 1,000-foot tall burning smokestack in West Virginia. They don’t land at airports with lighted runways but on highway overpasses and yards surrounded by power lines and trees.
David Rosenberger fixes the choppers, but he’s also friends with the troopers and pilots who he watches head out in the copters he’s repaired.
He knew the pilot and trooper who died in last year’s crash, and he went to the scene to retrieve pieces of the wreckage for investigators.
What he most remembers: “The smell of the jet fuel.”
New rules now require ground paramedics to consult with trauma doctors before calling for a helicopter in all but the most obvious life-threatening cases. Bill Bernard, the director of flight operations, said calls have gone down since, but the real test will be this summer, traditionally their busiest season. Last Saturday, when temperatures soared above 90, state police helicopters across the state flew 30 missions and transported 19 patients, about average for a hot day before the crash occurred.
Here, there is no debate or second-guessing at being called out on runs – they say ground crews make the best call they can with limited resources and equipment, and bad injuries don’t often appear obvious. “I’d rather fly nine patients who didn’t need to fly than not fly the one patient who did,” Bernard told me.
In addition to the trooper and pilot, also being honored are: Waldorf emergency medical technician Tonya Mallard, who also died in the helicopter crash; Prince George’s County Officer Richard Findley, who was struck by a car; Baltimore County Police Lt. Michael P. Howe, who died of a stroke after returning from leading an investigation into a murder-suicide; Baltimore County paramedic Brian Neville; Frederick Officer Richard Bremer, who died pursuing a suspected drunken driver; Baltimore County firefighter Thomas Rice, who died of cancer; and FBI Agent Samuel Hicks, a former Baltimore police officer who was fatally shot in Pittsburgh.
The ceremony, open to the public, starts at 1 p.m. at the cemetery, 200 E. Padonia Road. The governor and other dignitaries are expected to attend.