Crothersville’s newest full-time police officer has a lot of experience to bank on as he begins his service.
Eight months after graduating from Seymour High School in 2010, Christopher Cooper joined the United States Navy and served four years of active duty with the military police.
Once he returned to the area, he held a couple of jobs until applying for reserve and full-time positions with the Crothersville Police Department.
He landed a reserve role in September. Then on Feb. 2, the town council unanimously approved him to be Crothersville’s third full-time officer.
Cooper, 23, a Crothersville native, said it means a lot to him because he gets to continue a family tradition of law enforcement. That includes his father, Mike, who is a sergeant with the Seymour Police Department.
“I’ve just grown up with it,” Cooper said. “(His father’s) side of the family is law enforcement officers. I’ve had a few on my mom’s side that have been law enforcement officers. That’s just the kind of life that I’ve grown up in.”
On Wednesday, Mike Cooper held the Bible on which Christopher Cooper put his left hand as he was sworn in at Crothersville Town Hall.
“It makes me feel proud how I was raised and the people I was raised with,” Christopher Cooper said. “I feel like I’m going to hold myself to a higher standard just to keep up with the people that have been in my family and done this and just do the best I can with it.”
During its January meeting, the town council approved increasing the number of police officers to four for the first time. The council voted to hire Joshua Medsker of Greenwood to fill one of the positions, but Chief Richard Hanlin wasn’t able to reach Medsker to see if he was willing to accept the position.
So the town council offered the job to Cooper during the Feb. 2 meeting, and he accepted. The council agreed to hold off on hiring the fourth officer to ensure it’s financially feasible.
The police department had a full-time vacancy since July. Cooper applied for that job and a reserve officer position. He said he hadn’t had a full-time job since October.
“After October, I wasn’t going to try to push my limits by going and applying somewhere else in case I was picked for the full-time job here,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, from October to now, I didn’t have a job.”
Cooper said he was glad to finally be offered the job.
“I felt as though weight was lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “I was just relieved. I didn’t really quite know what to think at the time. Now, I’m just ready to get started.”
The town council agreed to pay Cooper $12.50 per hour until he graduates from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield. His pay then will bump up to $13 per hour.
The town will pay for all of Cooper’s academy expenses. Officers have one year from the date they are hired to complete the academy, which offers three sessions per year.
Cooper said in talking with his father, he knows what to expect with the academy.
“He has told me just to get there, pay attention to what they are telling you and do the best you can while you’re there,” Cooper said.
He also said he feels prepared since he spent four years with the military police in Okinawa, Japan. His responsibilities included checking identifications and inspecting vehicles while manning entry gates and patrolling streets.
“The supervisors and mentors that I had in the military taught me a lot when it came to law enforcement,” he said. “I had some that were civilian cops and then became military police, and they were good at training and teaching me how to get through scenarios and how to present myself.”
Cooper said he also learned a lot from Hanlin and the other full-time officer, Brent Turner, while patrolling the streets of Crothersville as a reserve since September. The town also had two other reserve officers during that time.
Hanlin said he will arrange schedules to provide the best coverage possible, and he will expect reserve officers to have set shifts and cover when full-time officers use vacation or sick time.
“He has done a wonderful job for the town, and he’s going to be a good asset for us,” Hanlin said of Cooper. “He’s new and young and has got a lot of good ideas, and I think he’s going to be pretty good here.”
Hanlin said Cooper’s military background will be beneficial, too.
“I’d like to see him continue to do what he has worked hard to do,” Hanlin said. “I’m glad that he finally got this opportunity.”
Name: Christopher Cooper
Education: Seymour High School (2010); United States Navy (March 2011 to February 2015)
Occupation: Recently hired as Crothersville Police Department’s third full-time officer
Family: Father, Mike Cooper; grandmother, Cathy Mantz