Scholarships established in honor of JPD Officers Cooper and Reed

Scholarship funds to honor two Joplin police officers who died in the line of duty earlier this year have been established at Missouri Southern.

In August, a check 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.”

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.”

He said that 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.

Primary donors for other scholarships in the officers’ names include Ashley Home Store, Arvest Foundation, Jimmie Ray and Carol Cignetti, the Gaskill Memorial Trust and the family of Jake Reed. People wishing to make a gift in honor of the fallen officers should contact the Office of Development at 417-625-3104 or Greim-K@mssu.edu.