Joplin Police Chief was chief in Union Gap and Under Sheriff - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Joplin Police Chief was chief in Union Gap and Under Sheriff of Yakima County

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YAKIMA,Wash- The Joplin, MO police chief was actually the Union Gap police chief for five years and the Yakima County Under sheriff for another four between 1990 and 1999. 

Chief Lane Roberts was in the Yakima Valley during the Mount Saint Helens eruption, and has experienced other disasters. But he says the tornado is unlike anything he's ever seen. When it first hit, his department's primary mission was search and rescue and now it's become security.  They have arrested a number of people for looting the damaged property and they're trying to help the owners collect what they can.

"It's a challenge for us to try to make sure that people don't deprive them of what little they have left. This is not like anything you've ever seen before.  It's just so instantaneous.  One moment the community is there and the next moment ten percent of it simply no longer exists", says Roberts.

Joplin police are providing security while dealing with the personal effects of the tornado.  Several of Chief Roberts' officers lost their homes, and two officers were struck by lightning.  This morning the death toll was at 125 but so far no city employees have lost their lives.

Chief Roberts says another challenge is providing security to the disaster zone while still maintaining regular police services in the rest of the city.