Officers mourn for colleague

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Grief has once again shrouded Suffolk as the city has lost another good son. Badges of police officers are also shrouded by black bands in honor of one of their fallen brothers. Suffolk Police Officer Michael Edward Simpkins died quietly at Maryview Medical Center late Sunday evening. He was 56.

Simpkins, a man loved by his comrades in law enforcement, was well-known in the city. Not only did he serve as a motorcycle officer, but for 12 years as a detective. His last assignment as a media liaison came in 1992. He was also the Crime Line coordinator for this city, serving as a link between the people and police.

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&uot;Mikey,&uot; as he was known, served as a link to all people in a variety of ways including the media. Well known to all Hampton Roads media,

Simpkins was not only known as &uot;Suffolk Crime Line&uot; coordinator, but also as a performing artist and disc jockey. His singing voice was sweet and mellow, and he was in demand as he made personal appearances across the city.

Donna Perry, president of the Citizen’s Academy Alumni of Suffolk, a program of the police department that trains civilians in how to help police fight crime, was a friend and fan. She knew him as a performer as well as one of the officers who trained her in the academy.

&uot;Mike was very supportive of CAAS and we called upon him many times and he was always there to help,&uot; said Perry. &uot;He brought all of his equipment to several of our events and DJ’d for us, he came to our car wash and washed cars with CAAS members to raise funds for our organization. He DJ’d at our Luau last year, in full Hawaiian gear, with a grass skirt and coconut bra.

He had an amazing voice.

He sang Amazing Grace during our 911 Memorial last year.

&uot;Whatever you needed him to do, he was always there.

Mike was a member of law enforcement for so long, he was like a monument of the Suffolk Police Department.

I remember seeing him in uniform as a teenager….. seeing him on his motorcycle as a young adult……… seeing him informing the public of happenings as an adult.

I will miss seeing him on the streets of Suffolk.&uot;

Many of his co-workers, who were also friends, remembered Simpkins Monday with

fondness and even greater respect.

Suffolk Sheriff Raleigh H. Isaacs Sr., worked with Simpkins for many years, and said that the officer was one of the most professional he had ever known.

&uot;I had the pleasure of knowing Mike for many years and he was always a very loyal and dedicated police officer,&uot; said the sheriff. &uot;He served the community well. It’s a sad thing to see someone die so young.&uot;

Major Richard H. Hurd worked with Simpkins for 30 years. He was both his supervisor and a friend.

&uot;He’d do anything for you at any time,&uot; said the major. &uot;He was very professional, respectful to the media and public as well as his co-workers. He always had a positive attitude. He kept his illness to himself and he was upbeat the whole time, even still doing his music.&uot;

Sheriff Department Major Tommy Vann worked with Simpkins prior to joining the sheriff’s department.

&uot;I was here when he joined the department, it was old Suffolk then, and I watched him grow into a good, mature officer,&uot; said Vann. &uot;He was good to work with and I know we could always count on him. He had a lot of compassion for people. He loved fishing and used it to help the Special Olympics children.&uot;

Special Investigator to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, A.P. Bremer, said he met Simpkins when he joined the motorcycle patrol.

&uot;Mike taught me how to ride for them and then we worked together in the Detective’s Bureau for 12 years,&uot; said Bremer. &uot;You could count on Mike because he was a professional. We enjoyed working together and I know he will be greatly missed. We used to go to his mother’s house for tacos and that was always the best of times. One thing’s for sure; there are no guarantees in life and we should all be as kind to each other as possible.

Simpkins worked for retired Suffolk Police Chief Gilbert F. Jackson for many years. The chief said he holds great respect for the officer.

&uot;He did a wonderful job and he was very professional,&uot; said Jackson. &uot;He was very proud of serving as a Suffolk Police officer and we were very proud of him.&uot;

Suffolk Police Officer John K. Cooke met Simpkins in 1979. Cooke said they not only worked the same detective squad together, but they also played together.

&uot;Mike introduced me to bass fishing,&uot; said Cooke. &uot;We had good work time and good play time. Its’ not just police who will miss him, but also organizations like the Peanut City Bassmasters and Special Olympics. He was a nice guy, a good co-worker, and. he’d do anything in the world for you. Everybody who knew him loved him. It’s not only a loss to Suffolk but also to Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and their police departments.&uot;

Former Suffolk Police Chief Gilbert F. Jackson is a former Marine. He ran the department with military precision, and said Monday that Simpkins was truly a professional police officer.

&uot;He was a terrific individual with a great personality and he was an outstanding officer,&uot; said Jackson. &uot;He was dedicated to the city, and he is the epitome of what a police professional should be. He also had a good singing ability and had excellent relations with the media. This is a tremendous loss to the city. I am as sorry as I can be…&uot;

Carter Hicks, a retired Suffolk Police Detective, remembers the day he and Simpkins met. They both joined the department in 1973, serving first in uniform division. Simpkins later worked with Hicks in the detective’s bureau.

&uot;Mike Simpkins never met a stranger, but when he met someone it was like he knew them all his life,&uot; said Hicks. &uot;He was always helping people, too. When my wife, Carolyn, passed away two years ago, he was the first one to come to comfort me. He even sang at the funeral. He was just a good person… He was always honest about his feelings and I have a lot of admiration about a person like that.&uot;

Jeff Bangley, a retired Suffolk Police Detective, knew Simpkins from the beginning of their careers with the old Suffolk Police Department. They worked together as patrolmen and also as detectives.

&uot;Mike was a great guy… good to everybody,&uot; said Bangley. &uot;I’ve never known anybody to say anything bad about him. He always did his job and he worked in just about every capacity at the department. He was detective, a motorcycle officer, a member of the Underwater Recovery and Dive Team, and he was on the &uot;Marine One&uot; boat patrol for some time. He really found his niche in serving as the police information officer. He had really good relations with the media and they all liked him.&uot;

Former Suffolk Police Chief Gilbert F. Jackson said the loss of a police officer and man like Simpkins is a great loss to the people of Suffolk.

&uot;He was a terrific individual personally and an outstanding police officer,&uot; said Jackson. &uot;He was truly dedicated to the city and he is the epitome of what a police officer should be. He had a good singing voice and people loved to hear him entertain. He had excellent relations with the media this is a tremendous loss to the city. I am as sorry as I can be…&uot;

Sheriff’s Deputy William Franklin retired from the Suffolk Police Department in 2002, and he recalled his friendship and professional relationship with Simpkins.

&uot;If we ever needed anything for our jobs as officers, he would get it for us and he was always a pleasure to work with

I’m sure he will be missed greatly by the police officers and his friends and especially the media. He worked so closely with them and had an excellent relationship with them.&uot;