BADGE 1993, ID 5291
SDPD 10/02/1995 - 12/01/2000
1956 - 12/01/2000
For Joseph Simms Jr., being a police officer often was an extension of his role as a parent.

"He was a father figure to many teens," said his wife, Ranona. "He treated them with respect and dignity, and it really had a positive effect on them."

Mr. Simms, who began his career with the San Diego Police Department after serving 20 years in the Navy, was found dead Dec. 1 in his San Marcos home. He was 44.

The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, said Cal Vine of the county Medical Examiner's Office.

A patrol officer in the Northeast Division, which encompasses Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch, Mr. Simms had been undergoing tests for promotion to sergeant. "He enjoyed interacting with people," his wife said. "He was always fulfilled when people said, 'You really helped us out.' "

After leaving the Navy as a senior chief petty officer in 1994, Mr. Simms sold life insurance for Academy Insurance Co. in San Diego for a year while awaiting admission to the San Diego Police Academy.

He was accepted into the academy in 1995 and graduated as a police officer in April 1996. He received several commendations during his more than four years in law enforcement.

By keeping fit and working out regularly, Mr. Simms set an example for his 17-year-old daughter, Aja, a varsity soccer player at Scripps Ranch High School and member of the San Diego Soccer Club.

Mr. Simms was born in Lynwood and raised in Carson and Compton in Los Angeles County. He left Gardena High School at 17 to join the Navy.

While in the Navy, as an aviation electronics mate, he earned a bachelor's degree in aviation management at Southern Illinois University. For the last nine years of his Navy career, he was stationed at Miramar Naval Air Station.

His decorations included a Navy Commendation Award, three achievement medals and five good-conduct medals.

In becoming a police officer, Mr. Simms followed the footsteps of his father, James Simms Sr., who retired in the early 1980s from the Los Angeles Police Department.

Mr. Simms was active in the Police Officers Association and the Noncommissioned Officers Association. He had been a parent booster at Scripps and Mira Mesa high schools.

Survivors include his wife, Ranona; daughters, Nicole and Angela Simms, both of Los Angeles, Amber Simms of Long Beach, and Aja and Autumn Simms, both of San Diego; his mother, Trinidad Simms of Carson; sisters, Denise Anderson and Stephanie Collymore, both of Los Angeles; and two grandchildren.
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