By Samantha Foster firstname.lastname@example.org The Military Veteran Project and Topeka police teamed up to share support Thursday for a Missouri police officer and veteran who is recovering after being wounded in the line of duty.
MVP director Melissa Jarboe, Topeka Police Chief James Brown and five additional Topeka police officers who also are military veterans traveled Thursday morning to Pleasant Valley, Mo., to deliver gifts and words of encouragement to Pleasant Valley police officer Jacob Baldwin, Jarboe said.
Baldwin, 32, sustained two gunshot wounds to his face Dec. 13, 2014, while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 35 in southern Clay County, Pleasant Valley Police Chief Mark Dumolt said in an emailed statement Thursday. While he continues to recover, he hasn’t yet returned to work.
About two months ago, Jarboe’s organization, which provides support and assistance for veterans, issued a request for people to send get-well cards that could be delivered to Baldwin.
“We received cards from all over the world: the U.K.; Germany; Okinawa, Japan” and states from across the nation, she said.
In fact, the Military Veteran Project received so many cards for Baldwin — including some from members of the Kansas Highway Patrol and Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office — that delivery of the cards had to be delayed. On Thursday, Jarboe said, the Topeka delegation that visited Baldwin delivered more than 200 cards from well-wishers.
Baldwin, who has served for two years in the police department, is a veteran of the Air Force and a current member of the Kansas Air National Guard, Dumolt said. He serves in the 284th Air Support Operations Squadron based in Salina.
Dumolt said Baldwin has been deployed four times in the past 14 years, including assignments in Africa, Kuwait and Iraq.
Jarboe said Baldwin also serves under Police Chief James Brown in Brown’s capacity as command chief master sergeant of the Kansas Air National Guard. Topeka police Maj. Jerry Stanley, Lt. Scott Gilchrist, Lt. Joe Perry, and officers Ronnie Connell and Matt Cobb traveled to Pleasant Valley with Brown and Jarboe to meet Baldwin.
For the Topeka police officers, Jarboe said, it was encouraging to see a survivor. Topeka police lost three of their fellow officers to fatal gunshot wounds between December 2012 and September 2014.
The visit also proved to be a “great morale booster” for Baldwin, Dumolt told Jarboe in an email shared with The Topeka Capital-Journal. Jarboe said the Topeka officers and Baldwin connected quickly, talking and laughing in a display of “veteran camaraderie.”
Kansas City-area news media reported in late December that a grand jury indicted 31-year-old Omar Maria, whom Dumolt described as a “wanted career criminal,” in Baldwin’s shooting. Maria, who was taken into custody Dec. 14, now faces felony charges of first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and armed criminal action.
“It is ironic that Officer Baldwin was seriously wounded in Pleasant Valley and not overseas in a foreign country,” Dumolt said in his statement. “This is a reminder of how demanding and dangerous the law enforcement profession is and the risk our officers encounter every day.”
A credit union account has been established to benefit Baldwin, Dumolt said. Details are available on the Pleasant Valley, Mo., Police Department’s Facebook page.
Samantha Foster can be reached at (785) 295-1186 or email@example.com.
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