Welcome to the city of St Joseph's weekly digital newsletter. City Link is your source for timely and relevant information from your local government.
Thursday, November 5, 2020
COVID-19 Community Testing

The St. Joseph Health Department, in collaboration with Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, will be offering a free community COVID-19 testing event for Missouri residents on Saturday, November 7. This drive-through testing event will be held at Heritage Softball Complex from 7am-3pm.

This COVID-19 testing event is open to Missouri residents aged 7 and older regardless of whether they have symptoms. The test is a PCR test done by a nasal anterior nares swab to determine if there is an active infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This is not an antibody test.

Pre-registration is advised and can be completed online or by calling 877-435-8411.
Blacksnake Creek Project Update

The Blacksnake Creek Stormwater Separation Improvement Project was mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Federal Clean Water Act. Its purpose was to improve the water quality by separating combined sewer overflows (CSO). Originally, the Blacksnake Creek combined with the Blacksnake sewer running down the length of St. Joseph Avenue. With large interior stormwater events, these flows were being diverted into the Missouri River thereby classifying them as CSO.

The project is finally concluding, with the redirection of the Blacksnake Creek at flows lower than 808.50 mean sea level (MSL) or approximately 1,600 cubic feet per second. This was accomplished in July 2020. The redirection of the flows are now carried through the newly constructed 5,740 feet of the 7-foot by 6-foot reinforced concrete precast box culvert. It then enters the 37-foot diameter cast-in-place baffled drop shaft near the Second Harvest Community Food Bank.

After entering the drop shaft, it will be channelized through the baffling system dropping in elevation of approximately 35 feet. At the bottom of the shaft, the flows continue down stream entering the newly constructed 6,650 feet of the 9-foot diameter precast concrete segmentally lined tunnel. The flow will eventually reach its destination through approximately 181 feet of open cut 7.5-foot diameter steel pipe, through 125 feet of jacked steel pipe and enter Roy’s Branch Creek though an energy dissipation structure.

The final portion of the project, yet to be completed, will be the replacement of the flood gates at the outfall of the Blacksnake Sanitary Sewer. In addition, the alignment of the outfall channel will be modified. Due to the 2019 flooding, this portion of the project has been held up due to the constant high-water levels experienced during the flood along with the subsequent damage to the initial attempts to install the original design. As a result of the flood damage and construction challenges experienced by the contractor, this portion of the project will undergo an alternate design. This alternative design is now being presented to the United States Corps of Engineers. It is anticipated that once the new design is approved, the project will be completed by the fall 2021.
What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), over 75 million times a year police make direct contact with the community. Also, the BJS reports there are a little over 700,00 police officers in general-purpose law enforcement agencies. If we were to add in another 100,000 federal law enforcement and 60,000 special jurisdiction police (campus, parks, etc.), policing in America has 860,000 officers. To put this all in perspective, a police population the size of Indianapolis interacts with the most heavily armed population in the world. That is about 120 guns for every 100 people, 75 million times a year. 

Is one to think that occasionally, some of those interactions will not result in fatal shootings? According to the Washington Post database they do, about 1,000 times a year. Doing the math, about 60% of people shot and killed by police are armed with a gun. This is 11 gun-armed people every week in the U.S. 

Nationally, 2019 showed us 399 people not armed with a gun were shot and killed. Of those, 55 were classified as unarmed, many of them had some other weapon. For example, 142 had a knife, seven had an ax, seven a sword and 27 had toy weapons. The latter were not lethal, but also a misnomer. Replicas, today, are often more realistic. Split-second decisions many officers have to make as to whether a person is armed with a toy weapon can result in mistakes being made. We also don’t know how many people armed with toy weapons are not shot and killed by police during those instances. Even at the best of times, its difficult to tell the differences. 

Of the 203 left by excluding those armed with a gun, knife, samurai sword, sword, taser, ax, machete, nail gun, bean-bag gun or toy weapon, what is the distribution of race/ethnicity? Of those, 84 were white, 43 black, 36 Hispanic and the remaining 40 are other or information was not available. Using police-community interaction rates, this renders 4.6 unarmed police shootings per million contacts for blacks, 3.7 for Hispanics, and 1.6 for whites. 

For victims, families and communities, every shooting is a tragedy. Absolutely they should be reduced to zero. Is this a realistic goal? These occur at a rate of less than one in a million overall police-community interactions. A majority of police officers would support a goal of zero unnecessary police shootings. But, we know it is probably unrealistic as well. It is clearly important to minimize this number, but with 75 million interactions between armed police and heavily armed citizenry, bad events are going to happen. 

There is some merit in reducing the number of police-community contacts. There are many instances where police would prefer to not attend as those would be better dealt with by social workers and mental health professionals. Equally, there is evidence under-policing could pose danger to people in high crime communities. 

The question remains, what should we do? All police shootings should be swiftly, thoroughly and transparently investigated by an external agency. Mistakes should be acknowledged and learned from as officers involved in egregious shootings should be allowed the right of due process and from those decisions applicable judgements be applied. There also needs to be a national effort to examine each of these shootings to understand the situational and policy lessons like the NTSB does with aircraft safety. 

We also have to decide if the rampant and largely unrestricted gun ownership level in the country affects the police-community contacts. In 2019, 48 police officers were killed by gunfire. Will reducing the number of guns in the US improve safety for both the community and law enforcement?

Several changes have already been decided and mandated in regards to use of force. Some current de-escalation policies can prolong an incident and inadvertently allowed them to escalate. We need to adapt to an evidence-based perspective before mandating policies that potentially cause more harm.
Time to Make Sure Your Forms are Up-to-Date

As the final months of this year are winding down, it is time to make sure all of your employment information is updated. Make sure your...read more
Winter Car Kit

While we have already received a little taste of winter weather, fall acts as good reminder to make sure your car is ready for the cold days and even colder nights. Missouri roads in winter can get dangerous fast. It's important to be prepared in case you get stuck on the road in the cold weather. If you become stranded in your vehicle, these are some necessities you need to make sure you keep in your trunk. 
  • Heavy coats, hats, gloves
  • Blankets
  • Rock salt or kitty litter as this will help you get unstuck
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Jumper cables 
  • Cell phone charger 
  • Water
  • Non-perishable foods like granola bars, peanut butter and canned food with a pop tab opener.

With more snowy weather to come our way in the coming months, the best thing you can do is be as prepared as much as possible.
Veterans Day

This Veterans Day, we would like to thank the dedicated men and women who have served our country. In observance of Veterans Day, city offices will be closed on Wednesday, November 11, with the exception of:
  • Landfill - 7am-2pm
  • Remington Nature Center - Open
  • REC Center - Open
(816) 271-5300