In memory of ‘Mikey’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Have you hugged a cop today? Or even thanked one for their dedication and service to preserving the peace in our city? Those are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I was told Sunday evening that Suffolk Police Officer Michael Edward Simpkins had died.

I cried and thought back to the last time I’d spoken with &uot;Mikey,&uot; the name by which he was best known. He said something funny, I don’t remember now what it was because he was always funny, and he asked how I was doing. Typical of his character, he was always concerned with my welfare, just as he was with everyone he knew. And Mikey knew a lot of people.

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I first met Mike Simpkins when he was a detective for the Suffolk Police back in 1989. I was a totally green crime reporter. He was, at first, reluctant to interview with me, like any cop would be with a reporter. But, with his cheerful disposition he could not maintain that stalwart attitude for long. He came to know and trust me, and in return, I trusted his word as truth.

In fact, Mike Simpkins was a man whose integrity and honor were never questioned. He was trusted by the media across Hampton Roads. Major Tommy Vann of the Sheriff’s Department said Simpkins had found his niche as the media liaison, and it was obvious by the manner in which the officer handled his duties.

It wasn’t only the media who trusted Mike, however. He was there for anyone who needed to share a burden and he was there with that ever-ready pearly white smile, eyes snapping and that silly wit. You could not help but smile, no matter how tough your day.

I stopped by the police department Tuesday morning, and although they insisted they were all &uot;doin’ OK,&uot; it was obvious from the red-rimmed eyes and furrowed brows that they had all shed tears for Mike. He will be missed that much. However, I know everyone will definitely be carried through this by their faith. Yes, faith. Ask most any cop and he or she will tell you they don’t take a step without faith in God’s protection and love.

Yes, they will always remember Mike with fondness and respect, but they will heal just as they did when they lost other &uot;heroes&uot; like Captain Sanford Chapman, Major Marion Bryant and his brother, Bobby Bryant, and Police Chiefs Jesse Harrell and Hank Mundie.

Like them, Simpkins has left behind an indelible memory of a police professional, good friend, mentor, and trophy-winning fisherman.

I can see Mike now, up there on that happy, golden shore, fishing rod in hand, standing next to St. Peter and the other apostles, those other fishermen. Hooking the biggest bass he’s ever seen, Mike calls out excitedly to the saints, &uot;If I’d known this, I would have come sooner!&uot;

Barbara Allen is a staff writer for the Suffolk News-Herald.