Washburn Police Captain Matt Simpson is the exemplification of a dedicated worker.
Only having been a member of Washburn’s police force for one year, he is already excelling as a leader. His duties include the management and scheduling of 17 full time police officers, four dispatch officers, as well as several on-call officers who often operate after hours. He chooses which officers cover each patrol route and decides how to respond to reports sent in to dispatch. He is integral to coordinating large scale events on campus such as varsity football games, graduation and this year’s solar eclipse viewing at Yager Stadium.
Simpson got his start in law enforcement when he began working as a correctional officer after high school.
“It was something I didn’t know much about,” said Simpson. “But it seemed really interesting and I knew it would give me the opportunity to help people and be a mentor.”
Simpson spent his time as a correctional officer at Topeka Correctional Facility. After realizing how much he enjoyed helping people in that line of work, he immediately went to school to become an officer of the law. He first attended Washburn University and earned his degree in criminal justice, then transferred to Fort Hays State University where he earned a Master of Liberal Studies degree with an emphasis in criminal justice. He is also a certified public manager through the University of Kansas.
After completing his studies, Simpson was assigned as the Chief of Police for USD 437, a large school district that notably contains Washburn Rural Middle and High School. He then went on to take a position as a lieutenant in the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Police Force located near Mayetta, Kansas.
Despite his successful career, Simpson wasn’t always sure that he would become a member of law enforcement growing up.
“I really didn’t know [if it was right for me] until I was 18,” Simpson said. “I just really enjoyed all the interaction and knew I’d be able to help people.”
During his time on the tribal police force, he developed a cadet explorer program which encouraged youth between the ages of 14 to 20 to engage and help their local officers.
“Washburn has a very similar program but it’s a different age group,” Simpson said. “Being able to mentor our youth and encourage excitement about the profession has been very rewarding to me.”
When he is not working with WUPO, Simpson spends his hours staying active with his wife, a prosecutor for the city of Topeka, and their dog Peach. They often participate in 5k and 10k runs, and the couple recently participated in their first triathlon over summer break. Both of them also are team members of Shawnee County’s Parks and Rec Volleyball League.
“I’m very happy at Washburn and have no desire to leave,” Simpson said. “When it comes to long term career growth though, I do hope to be Chief of Police somewhere.”
Simpson has implemented his enthusiasm for community outreach at Washburn as well. He has expanded his department’s presence on social media and has been using training times to inform students on the role of the police on campus. His message for students was to remember that the officers are there to help.
“Many people don’t think to call the police if you locked your keys in the car or if your battery is dead,” Simpson said. “We offer many resources your typical police department doesn’t have the manpower to. We are here to help the students succeed, and we welcome the opportunity to interact with our students in any way.”