Joseph Shinners played hard, worked hard and studied hard, and according to many, cared deeply about people.
Master Officer Joseph Shinners was shot late Saturday evening while trying to apprehend a suspected fugitive Matt Frank Hoover, 40. Shinners later succumbed to his injuries.
Shinners worked the graveyard shift and had been on the clock less than an hour when he responded with other officers to the Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot on University Parkway in Orem.
Shinners’ death brought great pause and sadness to his friends, family and the communities he served.
His fellow officers in the Provo Police Department are being bolstered by help from numerous other agencies, counselors and a volunteer chaplain. According to Sgt. Nisha King, with the Provo Police Department, several Provo Police officers were given time to be with their family Monday and officers from surrounding police departments in the county and even a few from Salt Lake County volunteered to take calls and shifts for the Provo Police.
Shinners’ wife Kaylyn Swanson Shinners is receiving support from officers, family and friends as well. According to her father, Ryan Swanson, she has been surrounded by some close friends who she has known since junior high school, as well as officers stationed at the home. Neighbors and church members have come in often to check on the family.
Swanson said even though his daughter is devastated, she is strong.
“She is strong because she has a great faith,” Swanson said. “She is a very courageous person. She loves the gospel. She’ll get through this. She’ll go on.”
The Shinners are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They began dating during their final year of high school, both played soccer and graduated together at Springville High School.
Swanson said Joseph Shinners then served a mission for the church in El Salvador. On his return, he and Kaylyn picked up where they left off and were soon married. Logan, their only child, is 20 months old. Kaylyn Shinners is a registered nurse and works for the Center for Change.
“He promised he’d take care of my daughter. He loved his wife and little boy,” Swanson said. “He flipped properties because he knew he couldn’t provide by just being a cop.”
Swanson added, “He just lights up the room. I’m lucky to have him as a son-in-law.”
On Monday night, his recreational ice hockey team, “The Ice Cubes,” honored him with the opposing team the “Pontus.” Both teams wore special helmet stickers, flew police flags and held a moment of silence.
“After the moment of silence, there was a ceremonial puck drop with four skaters leaving Joe's spot open,” said Shane Vest, the Ice Cubes team manager. “It was no 50 percent in him. He goes 150 percent. When he was in the locker room, the whole place livened up. He was very jovial. He was with you joking around or in your darkest time.”
Will Udall, a neighbor of the Shinners, was in Shinners’ Scout troop and church congregation when Udall was 15.
“I’ve had a lot of church and Scout leaders, but Joe was my favorite,” Udall said. “He was serious when he needed to be, and wanted us to learn the important things. But he also made us laugh all the time. He was kind to all of us and always seemed interested in what we had going on in our lives.”
Rick Bertelsen was Shinners’ soccer coach from the time Shinners was 11 years old to the day he graduated from Springville High School.
“He was always Joe, never Joseph,” Bertelsen said. “He just got life. He knew how to make it as fun and productive as possible. He had a good heart and he loved people.”
Bertlesen said Shinners always stepped up and got in front of those who might be in trouble or a fight.
“If there was an altercation, Joe was there almost always de-escalating it,” Bertlesen said. “He was a loyal, true friend and had everyone’s back. He wasn’t afraid.”
Bertlesen chuckled thinking about the five times Shinners had thrown him in the pool, and how well he treated his own mother. He said Shinners was gracious.
Shinners loves animals, particularly dogs and has two Samoyeds.
Shinners attended Utah Valley University. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in Spanish. He graduated from the UVU Law Enforcement Academy in 2016.
“From the first time he walked into the Academy office, you could tell his heart was in the right place,” said Norman E. “Buckey” Walters, director of the academy. “As a result of his command presence, he was immediately appointed as the Leader for Class No. 33. This appointment proved to be the right decision, because numerous accolades were given to him during Peer Reviews from his fellow classmates.
“Law enforcement officers must carry themselves with professionalism and authority while actively doing a difficult job. Well, Master Officer Joseph Shinners lead by example, there’s no better way to put it.”
Karen Amsden, a member of Shinners’ LDS ward and also on the crisis team at Wasatch Mental Health, relayed a story on Shinners’ tender side as a cop.
“A year ago, I was talking with a suicidal woman who was having a particularly hard night. I felt officers should be sent,” Amsden said. “She wanted a female officer, but none were on duty. Joe was working, and he went over and talked with her. He convinced her to voluntarily go with him to the hospital. She called after she got out of the hospital and said she’d never met any male police officer like him.”
Those who knew Shinners have felt the impact he left on their lives and the lives of anyone he came in contact with.
“He had a good heart and cared about people of all walks of life,” Bertelsen said.