JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Police Department remembers the “profound impact” the shootings one year ago today had on officers, their families, and the entire community.
Fellow officers from several jurisdictions, Joplin city leaders, and the general public spent their morning honoring the lives and service of Corporal Ben Cooper and Officer Jake Reed.
Hugs between two families who have lost their loved ones, tears of grief and pain. But – one year later, also some brief smiles.
As the crowd settled in for what would be a somber occasion, the Joplin police chief had a simple request.
“Would you please join me in a citywide moment of silence?” Asked Chief Sloan Rowland, JPD.
The room was overflowing at the Public Safety Training Facility for the one-year memorial ceremony of the shootings that took the lives of JPD’s Corporal Ben Cooper and Officer Jake Reed.
“Within minutes both officers would be in a violent struggle that would ultimately cost them their lives. The ferocity of how Ben and Jake fought to protect each other and the heroism they displayed would only be realized later. Both officers gave their lives for their brother, for their honor, and for the citizens of this community,” said Rowland.
It’s a day many will never forget.
“On that day, officers with the Joplin Police Department and a number of surrounding agencies, selflessly put themselves in harm’s way. They came to the aid of their brothers,” said Rowland.
A third officer shot that day, Officer Rick Hirshey, was also in the crowd honoring his fallen brothers as he continues to heal.
The ceremony honored both Cooper and Reed, but mainly focused on “Coop” and how he touched so many lives despite his tough exterior.
“He was one that spoke reason when I was not reasonable. And he spoke reason into my heart,” said Sergeant Shawn Dodson, JPD.
“When Roxy asked me to speak at this event, I was very cautious about the thought of it. Like most have heard, most Ben Cooper stories are not for public settings. We would discuss all things in those twilight hours of the night, while the rest of the world slept, while we drank unhealthy amounts of caffeine and typed our reports,” said Captain Nick Jimenez.
Emotions were still raw as speakers got choked up remembering both of their friends and brothers in blue.
“He gave the ultimate sacrifice for his city through his service as a Joplin police officer,” said Det. Logan Bowline.
“I’ll miss our hunting trips every Spring. I miss Coop’s deep belly laugh that would cause him to wheeze when you really got him going. I miss joking with him about his 31 lunch box that he would bring to work from time to time, which he would tell you, it was fabulous,” said Sergeant Jared Swann.
There were also stories of good times that helped fill the room with laughter on such a difficult day.
“It wasn’t until months after Cooper’s death that I learned that he had used my email address to set up a new TV in the squad room (laughter) I kept receiving emails from Vizio and I knew I didn’t register the TV when I bought it and I didn’t know why I was getting them,” said Captain Trevor Duncan.
“Their sacrifice will not be taken lightly or ever forgotten, for that it our solemn duty as survivors. We hold their families up in continuous prayers of comfort and we love them as our own,” said Rowland.
A second public ceremony will be held Saturday, March 11th at the Public Safety Training Facility.
It will honor Officer Jake Reed and his final act of service, which was being an organ donor.
The ceremony will also include a Joplin City Council proclamation of “Jake Reed Day.”