Capt. Nick Jimenez leads the way through the Joplin Police Department, taking several turns until reaching his office.

Today, he serves as the head of the department’s investigations bureau. But the first time he sat in the very same office was in the seat reserved for visitors. He was a Missouri Southern State University student there to talk to the captain about a potential internship.

Then a junior criminal justice major, he welcomed the opportunity to see firsthand how the department operates.

“You have a different idea of what police work is until seeing the day-to-day operations of a department,” Jimenez says. “It was a great experience and after I finished, I was approached to see if I would be interested in applying to become a police officer.”

He graduated from Missouri Southern’s Law Enforcement Academy and joined the department in 2008. It marked the beginning of a long career with the JPD that found him serving in a variety of roles – including patrolman, field training officer, a member of the SWAT team, firearms instructor, and a K-9 officer.

In 2018, he received his bachelor of science degree in criminal justice, along with an associate’s degree in law enforcement.

Now serving the department in an administrative role, he is seeing the JPD in a new light, having recently graduated from the 147th Administrative Officers Course offered by the Southern Police Institute (SPI) at the University of Louisville.

“Academically, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Jimenez says. “It’s a competitive application process and they accept just two classes a year. It’s a 12-week, 480-hour program. You live on campus and eat, breathe and sleep administrative function theory.

“It’s a master’s level course and the majority of instructors all have their doctorates and are published researchers within the field of criminal justice.”

The intensive course covered topics ranging from policing and investigative methods to the potential benefits of local research.

“One of the big lessons I took away from the SPI is the self-reflection … to make sure your intentions are good within your organization,” he says. “Your job should be to ask, ‘How can I serve the citizens of this community and make them feel safer and increase the public trust?’ If the public cannot trust those entrusted to police them, then there’s no way we can move forward with any other goal we have within the department.

“And anyone who serves an administrative function needs to take that 30,000-foot view and make it relatable to the people out there doing the work. The real heroes in law enforcement are the officers you pass out there every day … wearing a uniform and a badge, picking up the radio and saying, ‘Send the next.’ I’m so thankful for the great group of officers we have here within the JPD.”

Jimenez says he feels proud to serve in a community that supports its police department. That was never more apparent than following a tragic shooting on March 8, which claimed the lives of Cpl. Benjamin Cooper and officer Jake Reed. A third JPD member, officer Rick Hirshey, was serious wounded.

“There were as many tears shed on Main Street (during the funeral processions) as there were by our officers,” says Jimenez. “It was a sign of how much our community cares.

“Being with 44 other administrators from agencies all over the country – from Alaska to Florida – you heard about the relationships some communities have with their police departments. I think we’re infinitely blessed.”

Jimenez remains connected with his alma mater, serving as an adjunct instructor in the law enforcement academy, which is a Missouri POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training) licensed training center.

“Almost all of our officers come through Missouri Southern,” he says. “The resources and expertise offered by the faculty is great, and our pedigree is excellent. You couldn’t ask for a better recruiting tool than the personnel we have out there.”