Provo police officer remembered as a hero, and a man who snuggled his toddler son to sleep

Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Law enforcement officers arrive at the funeral for fallen Provo police officer Joseph Shinners, Jan. 12, 2019 at the UCCU Event Center at 800 W. University Parkway in Orem. Shinners, 29, was shot and killed while on duty Saturday, while trying to take a fugitive into custody. Shinners, a Boston native, worked for the Provo Police Department for about three years. He is survived by his wife KayLyn and their 1-year-old son, Logan.

Orem • The last thing Provo police Officer Joseph Shinners did before heading off to work for the final time was snuggle with his 20-month-old son, Logan.

At Shinners' funeral service Saturday — a week after he was killed while apprehending a fugitive in the parking lot of a Bed Bath & Beyond in Orem — his widow, Kaylyn, recalled the man she met in junior high and later married , .

“Joe was the man who went from being scared to have a baby to snuggling our son to sleep every night,” said Kaylyn Shinners. “That’s the last thing he did before he before he went to work Saturday night.”

She spoke tearfully, arriving at the podium with notes she’d crumpled while listening to others speaking about her husband.

“I destroyed my talk,” she said, going on to recall a man who was “so many wonderful things” to her “in the quieter moments in our life at home with me and my son.”

• He “loved clean sheets. I was not allowed to get in bed each night without showering first,” she said, drawing laughter.

• He “loved to play soccer” and “hockey, even though he spent 40 percent of every game in the penalty box.”

• He “always came home late, whether it was from work or just out running errands, because he got chatty with someone.”

• He would end arguments with his wife “by responding with nonsense phrases, until I couldn't argue with him anymore.”

• He “had no fear, unless it was snakes. That was the only time he threatened to divorce me.”

• He was “so excited when our son was born, he followed the nurse around with his arms outstretched, waiting for her to hand him our baby. And she had to tell him to wait ’cause she was trying to weigh him and clean him.”

Kaylyn Shinners, who met her husband when they were both in junior high, said she watched him grow “from a punk teenager who charmed his way to good grades and who may or may not have had several run-ins with the cops” to an “amazing and honorable husband, father and officer.”

Authorities have released few details about what happened on the night that Shinners was killed. During an attempt to arrest Matt Frank Hoover, 40 — a “wanted and known dangerous individual” — on two outstanding warrants, Shinners put himself in danger to save his fellow officers, according to Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson.

“In the course of trying to take the individual into custody, Officer Shinners saw one of his fellow officers in peril. Without reservation,” he “placed himself in a position of danger in an attempt to aid another officer.”

Shinners “selflessly sacrificed his life to protect the lives of his fellow officers.” His “direct action, fighting with the suspect and shooting him, ended the threat to the other officers, and I am proud of you, Joe.”

“Joe is the first man you would want next to you when things go bad,” said his brother Michael, who is a police detective in Haverhill, Mass.

“Joe always finished what he put his mind to. On Saturday night, he went to work with a mission to catch a dangerous fugitive. Well, Joe completed that mission, and he apprehended the suspect he wanted off the streets.

“He paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved to do.”

Joseph Shinners was remembered by family, friends and fellow officers during an 80-minute service attended by upward of a thousand people at the UCCU Center on the Utah Valley University campus — and the dark blue of police dress uniforms dominated the mourners.

Gov. Gary Herbert called him a “hometown hero” and offered his thanks “on behalf of the people of Utah.”

It was a gathering both somber and light, as Joseph Shinners was recalled as a man who loved life.

Ferguson deviated from his prepared remarks to recall when Shinners interviewed with the Provo Police Department.

“When we asked him, ‘Do you have any traffic tickets,’ we knew we had an honest cop in front of us because he smiled, and he said, ‘Kinda,’” the chief said, adding that those doing the interviewing had to “struggle to keep a straight face” as Shinners told them about times he was going too fast on his motorcycle.

“When he walked out of the room, we all looked at each other and said, ‘We love that guy.’ Joe was awesome,” Ferguson said.

His brother Michael vowed that “when he gets older,” 20-month-old Logan “will learn what a great man his dad really was … and that he died a hero. As a family and as a village, we need to raise Joe’s little dude so he can grow up to be just like his dad.”

After the funeral, Joseph’s body was taken in a procession to the Evergreen Cemetery in Springville, 1950 S. 400 East, for burial.