Matt Farmer is no stranger to perseverance.
Although it was the plan to continue his family’s tradition of dairy farming, he felt a pull to become a police officer. He battled dyslexia and worked long hours at multiple jobs to put himself through school. When it came time to apply to the Springfield Police Academy, it took seven attempts to get accepted.
Now, 22 years later, Farmer’s grit paid off for himself and the department. He’s held many titles since starting as a patrol officer in 1999. He previously worked in the SPD Uniform Operations Division, Financial Crimes Unit and Homicide Unit. From 2015-2020 he served as corporal of the Homicide Unit, where Farmer says he participated in dozens of homicide cases and served as lead investigator for 19 cases. He solved all but one.
In March, Farmer was named sergeant over the SPD’s Special Victims Unit. He supervises four detectives who investigate sexual assault, elder abuse, missing kids and harassment cases.
“I have drawn on a deep bench of investigative knowledge to sharpen the skills of the detectives I supervise,” he says. “Through informal conversations, development meetings and on-the-job mentorship, I have been able to enhance SVU’s investigative capacity – making our team more efficient and trauma-informed.”
Farmer says he also invested in himself over the years, recently completing the Leadership in Police Organizations certification, which equips him to mentor individuals and teams at the department.
“In addition to these broader opportunities, I have sought out specific skills-based trainings to qualify me for unique leadership roles, including the crisis negotiation and homicide response teams,” Farmer says. “I have worked hundreds of hours of overtime to direct our team’s response to hostage negotiations, tragic deaths in the community and other crisis situations.”
He says one of his proudest accomplishments came when he wasn’t in uniform, but it’s on character with his persevering spirit.
Farmer was motivated by one of his wife’s students, Joey Benjamin, to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer.
“I was inspired by his courage, and I made the decision to do what I could to support other children like Joey,” he says.
He connected with Texas-based Snowdrop Foundation and began training for the nonprofit’s Ultra 55 Run. Farmer says he aimed to run 100 miles in honor of kids like Joey. He says he completed 79 miles in the 2017 race. He only stopped because of an injury. But, he raised $4,000 for the foundation.
Farmer also volunteers with the Sunshine Brotherhood, which was created after the death of a family friend from cancer. He says the organization helps financially support first responders’ families during times of need.
“I am often blown away by the ways in which first responders and our families can create support networks for each other during times of unexpected crisis,” he says. “To build on that network of support, one of my long-term goals is to establish a self-perpetuating fund to finance the Sunshine Brotherhood’s annual scholarship and support services.”
Ariake Sushi and Robata opened; Great Southern Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: GSBC) opened its newest branch in Springfield; and a longtime employee with City Utilities of Springfield went into business for himself with the launch of Van Every Drafting & Design LLC.