Officer was fatally injured while assisting in tornado aftermath
By DEBBY WOODIN email@example.com
Officers with the local Police Department will represent Joplin on Saturday at a ceremony to dedicate new equipment obtained by the Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team in the memory of a fallen Riverside officer who died of injuries he sustained while working in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado.
A dedication ceremony will be held in the memory of Officer Jefferson “Jeff” Taylor at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Riverside Public Safety Building, 2990 N.W. Vivion Road in Riverside, for a new response trailer obtained by the team. The ceremony is open to the public, and the trailer will be on display. It will be the fourth anniversary of Taylor’s death after he was struck by lightning on May 23, 2011, as he worked in the wake of Joplin’s tornado. He died June 3, 2011, at St. John’s Regional Health Center in Springfield.
Sgt. Rusty Rives of the Joplin Police Department said the trailer “is designed to help agencies with line-of-duty deaths” to provide the highest level of dignity and honor deserving of a public servant.
A website about the response team says team members can help arrange chaplain service, mental health support and financial support of a family through such programs as the federal Public Safety Officer Benefits fund. Their services also are available to the families of officers who die of natural causes and retired officers.
Rives said the team’s services are particularly helpful when an unexpected death occurs. He said some small law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to provide the assistance to a family and the equipment needed for a law enforcement funeral.
The response trailer carries all the equipment needed for a law enforcement funeral, including flags and a sound system, Rives said.
Taylor had previously lived in Joplin and volunteered to come here in the hours after the 2011 tornado to assist with rescue operations.
Rives said Taylor graduated from Missouri Southern State University. He had worked at the Webb City Police Department before he joined the Riverside department in 2005. He was named Riverside’s Officer of the Year in 2008.