On Sunday, January 24th, 2010 at approximately 4:20p.m., Central Dispatch was notified of a robbery which had just occurred at the Country Mart grocery store located on Forum Drive. It was reported that a female age 51 of Rolla, had just had her purse stolen from her while she was shopping inside the store. It was reported that a male suspect snatched the victim’s purse, then ran from the store where the suspect got into a vehicle which was parked just outside the store and fled the scene.
An observant witness to the incident, followed the suspect vehicle while contacting Central Communications by cell phone. The witness kept telecommunicators abreast of the exact location of the suspect's vehicle as it was trying to escape. Noticing that they were being followed, the suspect vehicle eventually pulled off to the side of the road in rural Phelps County and one of the suspects got out of the car on foot. The suspect vehicle then fled from the area. The witness who had been chasing the suspect stayed with the suspect until officers from the Rolla Police Department and the Phelps County Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene and arrested him. Arrested was Joseph L. Howell age 30 of Rolla.
A few minutes later, a trooper from the Missouri State Highway Patrol located the suspect vehicle in this incident and detained the two additional suspects for Rolla Police Officers. Later the two additional suspects were arrested in connection with this incident. They were identified as Jonathan R. Baker age 23 and Jacqueline R. Baker age 22, both of Rolla. Joseph L. Howell, Jonathan R. Baker and Jacqueline R. Baker were all arrested for 2nd Degree Robbery and were later incarcerated in the Phelps County Jail pending warrant application. Had it not been for the keen eye of this Good Samaritan and the willingness to try to help a fellow citizen, this case may not have been solved. The Rolla Police Department wants to thank this individual for having the initiative to do what he did and provide precise details and locations which ultimately allowed us to apprehend all three of these suspects and retrieve the stolen purse. Great job to the brave witness, and to the responding officers from the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Rolla Police Department. The charges for which Joseph L. Howell, Jonathan R. Baker and Jacqueline R. Baker were arrested are merely accusations and are not evidence of guilt. Evidence in support of the charges must be presented before a court of competent jurisdiction whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
On Tuesday of this week, Central Dispatch received a call of a distraught female who may be attempting to harm herself in the 1900 block of N. Walnut. Cpl. Derrick Dillon, Spo. Jason Copeland and Spo. Frank Hawkins were the first to arrive on the scene and discovered a female inside a residence who had collapsed on the floor and was lethargic and nearly unresponsive. Officers, fearing for the safety of the female were able to force entry to the residence and allow EMS personnel access to the victim, who was transported to the Phelps County Regional Medical Center and treated. The female is expected to recover. Great job guys!
This past week our “Officer of the Week” campaign featured on the Rolla Police Department Facebook site produced a new winner. This week’s “Officer of the Week’ is telecommunicator Bob Nichols. Bob received the highest number of votes submitted by our Facebook fans to elect him to this week’s honors. Bob was raised in St. James where he graduated high school in 1978. Bob attended Linn Technical School before being hired at the Rolla Police Department in 1980 as a police dispatcher. In 1982 Bob became a patrol officer and served as a field training officer, traffic officer, accident reconstructionist, advanced driving instructor and breathalyzer trainer. Bob was promoted to the rank of Corporal and then to Sergeant where he served as a shift supervisor until his departure from law enforcement in 1995. Bob secured employment with Brewer Science and remained there over 14 years before returning to the Rolla Police Department as a telecommunicator. Bob is married and enjoys spending time with his family, hunting and fishing, watching sports and Nascar.
Each week I will feature one of our volunteers from our Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program. This week’s volunteer spotlight is on Dave Reynolds. Dave is originally from the state of Arkansas and has lived in Rolla the past 4 years. Dave recently retired as Lieutenant and assistant Division Director of Motor Vehicle Inspection with the Missouri State Highway Patrol where he served over 30 years. Dave is married to his high school sweetheart of 46 years and enjoys fishing, hunting, amateur radio operation and gardening.
Of the VIPS program, Dave states: “When I became aware, the Rolla Police Department was beginning the VIPS program. I felt it would be an avenue where I could share my law enforcement experience, as well as give some of my time to community service.” Dave assists our patrol division with vacation security checks, school and neighborhood patrols, traffic direction and officer presence. Dave also participates in special events, community awareness and recruitment. Dave says “I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to assist the Rolla Police Department, through the VIPS program, in their efforts to provide a safe environment to the citizens of Rolla.” Thanks Dave for all you do!
In closing, be sure to visit our Facebook site and continue to let us know better ways to help us better serve our community!
Have a great week!
Chief Mark Kearse