Where Are They Now? - Q&A's With Notable Jenks Grads
Matt Frazier - Homicide Detective for Tulsa Police Department
Each week throughout the 2016-17 school year, the new Where Are They Now? series will feature a Q&A with a notable Jenks graduate. In these profiles, Jenks’ alums from all over the country, from multiple generations, and from a wide array of career paths, will share how their Jenks education set them up for success and how they have become leaders in their industry and community.
The first Q&A is with Matt Frazier, a 1998 Jenks grad and a homicide detective for the Tulsa Police Department. Matt has been featured several times on the hit television series “The First 48” on A&E. In 12 years of law enforcement, he has worked as a narcotics investigator, conducted thousands of undercover operations, and spent time investigating bank robberies. After attending Oral Roberts University on a basketball scholarship, Matt worked as a spring training strength and conditioning coach for the Colorado Rockies. He trained many notable players – Matt Holiday, Ubaldo Jimenez, Todd Helton, Larry Walker – during his time in the big leagues, and went on to become a personal trainer before joining TPD in 2004. He and his wife Nicole have two boys, Bryce (12), and Cooper (10).
Matt Frazier pictured with his wife Nicole and sons, Bryce, and Cooper.
What are your fondest memories of attending Jenks High School?
Frazier: My fondest memories of Jenks are playing in the Frank Herald Gym. I will always cherish those memories along with the relationships with teachers and life-long friends that were made over my time at Jenks High School.
Was there one particular person at JHS who inspired you or made a lasting impact in your life?
Frazier: Coach Scott Padek and the rest of the basketball coaching staff made a huge impression on my life. They taught me that nothing in life will be free or easy. They helped me develop a work ethic to make me successful on the court and off the court. I carry that work ethic with me today as a homicide detective.
Why did you decide to become a police officer?
Frazier: I wanted to make a difference. As a police officer I could make a difference in our community. I wanted to have a hand in giving my children and everyone else in the community a safer place to grow and succeed.
Why did you want to work in the homicide department?
Frazier: In police work there are always victims. In other types of crimes the victim provides information, identifies the suspect, and assists in the investigation. In a homicide the victim can’t speak. You have to use your skills and knowledge to solve that crime and ultimately speak for the victim in the end. We as homicide detectives are the voice of the victim and I wanted to be that voice.
You have to deal with death, loss, and tragedy. How challenging are those aspects of your job and how do you stay positive?
Frazier: It is not easy but I have a strong supportive family that understands what we as police officers go through. I use cycling as an outlet to deal with the stresses and other things at work. The fact that I am helping people on a daily basis and the appreciation I see from families of victims, arrests and case closures, and convictions in court, help me keep a positive attitude.
Describe what it is like to start a case and slowly put the pieces together?
Frazier: When I arrive on any homicide scene I try to analyze everything I can see. The next step is putting the pieces together by conducting interviews, obtaining cell phone data, talking to witnesses, conducting surveillance, and obtaining all the forensic evidence. It’s really satisfying and exciting when it all comes together and an arrest is made.
Are there any particular cases or moments which stand out in your mind?
Frazier: I was assigned a case where the victim was shot and killed for trying to recover some stolen property. He was gunned down in broad daylight because he wanted his things back. It was senseless and it changed a lot of lives. In the end, I received a very appreciative letter from his mother and father, thanking us for all we did for their son and their family. That particular letter stands out because it reminds me of why we really do this job.
How do you feel about yourself and the Tulsa Police Department being portrayed on a show like the First 48? Does the show do a good job of capturing what actually occurs in an investigation?
Frazier: It has been really fun working with the show. They are very easy to work with during our investigations. I like the fact that what I did for a brief time in my life will be forever saved. Instead of just telling my children and grandchildren what I did for a living, I’ll actually be able to show them what I did as a homicide detective. The show does accurately portray what goes into a homicide case, or at least as much as they can fit into an hour.
Watch Detective Frazier on the job in episodes of "The First 48."
What does it take to be a skilled interrogator and get people to tell the truth?
Frazier: Building rapport is a big part of interviews. The ability to talk to anyone - children, men, women, rich, poor, hard, soft - is huge as well. Patience is also a big contributor to being a good interviewer. Sometimes it comes down to what you can trust in your gut and how you read people.
What separates a homicide detective who gets results and solves cases from one who doesn’t?
Frazier: I think that we as a Tulsa Police Department are so successful in solving our cases because we attack every case as a team, as a unit. If we all had to work each case as one person our solve rate would take a huge dive. We work together as a team and put our egos aside to get the job done. That is what the victims and their families deserve.
What, if anything, can be done to reduce the crime rate and murder rate in Tulsa?
Frazier: As far as the murder rate goes, we hover around the average of 58-60 murders per year. Most murders are committed by someone who knows the victim. It is rare for a random murder to occur. As for the crime rate, obviously more officers would help. I think having more officers would open up more resources which would allow us to be proactive as opposed to being reactive.
What does the future hold for you both personally and professionally?
Frazier: I take this one day at a time. I want to raise my children to be successful contributing members of society. I think that if I can do that I have succeeded. Professionally I will keep plugging along and take my cases as they come, work hard, and hopefully make a difference in this community.