Dyslexia difficulties don’t hinder UPD administrative sergeant


Hannah Roberts

Garrett Moyer, a former sergeant with the WSU police department, poses with a police vehicle. Moyer was fired in August 2017 and is now suing WSU for discrimination and retaliation.

In elementary school, Garret Moyer, UPD administrative sergeant and criminal justice master’s student, was always afraid to be called out in class.

“It’s always scary being called up to the chalkboard and being asked to write things down when you don’t know how to spell,” Moyer said.

The reason Moyer didn’t know how to spell in elementary school is because he has dyslexia. Despite difficulties with reading, Moyer made it through high school and received a bachelor’s degree from Friends University in 2003.

14 years later and he is now over a year into pursuing a master’s degree in the criminal justice program at Wichita State University with a 3.90 GPA.

“In high school I was in special education,” Moyer said. “High school was really the time I started developing alternative paths to being successful.

“Unfortunately, at the time they didn’t have a lot of technology and understanding of what dyslexia really is and how to teach kids with dyslexia.”

He said he has the more general form of dyslexia where letters in words will begin to scramble as he’s reading. Moyer said he has to take two or three more steps to achieve the same level of comprehension in reading or writing than somebody without dyslexia.

“When you start reading the words move on the page,” Moyer said. “If I’m reading something for a long time I have to stop, pause and start reading something else.”

When Moyer moved on to college, he sought out special resources in order to help him finish his bachelor’s degree.

“A master’s degree never crossed my mind at the time,” Moyer said.

Moyer joined the UPD in 2000 and graduated from Friends University in 2003. Moyer didn’t decide to attempt a master’s degree until early 2015 after Sara Morris, UPD police chief, planted the seed in his mind that a master’s degree was in his best interest, Moyer said.

“(Morris) asked me when I was going to get my master’s degree and I really hadn’t thought about it,” he said. “At first I was like, ‘Why would I want to get my master’s degree?’”

Then, Moyer said, it hit him: It’s a competitive world out there and a higher education can help take him to the next step in life.

Morris said she didn’t know Moyer had dyslexia when she first met him. Morris first started as UPD police chief in 2013, 13 years after Moyer started.

“I used to talk to him about quality control and reviewing his paperwork better to find spelling and grammar errors,” Morris said. “When we talked about the dyslexia, we started looking for resources available to help.”

At work, Moyer uses a read and write program which reads the words on his screen out loud. He said the program also allows him to change fonts and backgrounds, which really aids him with reading.

“The thing about dyslexia is that it basically crashes your self-esteem because you’re afraid to write documents and step out to do things differently,” Moyer said.

In order to juggle his job and schoolwork, Moyer uses audiobooks to save time and takes all of his classes online. He said he also would not be able to do a lot of his work without willing friends to review his work.

“As a result (of the programs), you could see his confidence building and then he just took off and started pursuing his master’s degree.,” Morris said.

Despite using audiobooks and programs to aid his reading, Moyer said his dyslexia allows him to think outside the box in his role for the UPD.

“I can actually visually see in my mind as far as certain officers see in strategic areas,” Moyer said. “I’m in charge of event planning and the reason I excel in it is because I can visualize what it looks like to put officers in certain places”

Even though it takes Moyer longer to read a book than the average person, once a book’s content is in his mind it stays there, he said.

“The key thing with this disorder is surrounding  yourself with people that are there to support you,” Moyer said.

He said many staff members and professors at Wichita State have encouraged him in his Master’s degree endeavor. Moyer named around ten different people at Wichita State who cheered him on, including Morris and Kristin Brewer, director of the midwest criminal justice institute at Wichita State.

He said he is also inspired by famous people with dyslexia like Steven Spielberg, Muhammad Ali and Albert Einstein.

“I want to do this just because I want other people to know that even though I have [dyslexia] I can still succeed,” Moyer said.