Scholarship funds to honor two Joplin police officers who died in the line of duty earlier this year were announced during a special presentation on Wednesday evening.
A check for $7,170 was presented to the Missouri Southern Foundation to create the scholarships in memory of Cpl. Benjamin Cooper and Officer Jake Reed. The two men lost their lives following a shooting on March 8. A third officer, Rick Hirshey, was wounded in the incident.
Cooper was a 2003 graduate of MSSU’s Law Enforcement Academy. Reed graduated from the academy and earned his bachelor’s of science in criminal justice administration in 2017. Hirshey graduated from the academy in 1994.
The funds were raised during Bright Futures’ annual Guns ‘n’ Hoses basketball game, during which teams from the Joplin Police Department and Joplin Fire Department go head to head.
“Five years ago, we held the first Guns ‘n’ Hoses game and in that time we’ve raised a little over $50,000,” said Larry Warren, board president of Bright Futures. “This year we wanted to do something to give back. We decided as a group we wanted to start a scholarship fund under each officer’s name. It will be for Joplin High School students wishing to go to Missouri Southern to study law enforcement.”
“As I look around the room, I know a lot of us have gone to this school, graduated from this school and become family at this school.”
The presentation also included remarks from Joplin Police Department Chief Sloan Rowland; Joplin Schools superintendent Dr. Kerry Sachetta; and Roxanne Cooper and Bayley Reed, the wives of Cpl. Cooper and Officer Reed.
Dr. Tim Wilson, associate professor and chair of the Criminal Justice Department at MSSU, said he had the pleasure of knowing both men.
“Ben and I went to the same high school together and later worked the same shift at the Joplin Police Department,” Wilson said. “Jake was one of the growing number of students who began his academic career in criminal justice here at Missouri Southern and then finished at the Law Enforcement Academy. I remember teaching (him) how to administer the field sobriety test and enjoyed how seriously he took it and every aspect of learning the job.
Faculty members in the Criminal Justice Department will gather at the end of the upcoming academic year to review the list of names being considered for the two scholarships.
“Recipients will be based upon their academic standing as well as their ability to exemplify the characteristics that Ben and Jake exhibited while protecting this community,” said Wilson.
For those interested in contributing to the scholarships, visit www.mssu.edu/cooperreedmemorial.