Ryan Copeland Memorial
McFarland Police Department K9 Officer Ryan P. Copeland was tragically killed in an on-duty traffic crash on November 23, 2015.
Ryan was born on February 10, 1982, in Janesville, and graduated from Craig High School in 2000. He then joined the U.S. Army in 2003. On January 8, 2005 at First Lutheran Church in Janesville, Ryan married his high school sweetheart, Amanda Richter. Following their marriage, they moved to North Carolina where Ryan successfully completed the intense training for the Green Berets in 2006. He was then stationed in the state of Washington and from there he was deployed numerous times worldwide, including the Philippines and Afghanistan. Ryan served as a Weapons Sergeant and sniper with the U.S. Army Special Forces.
Law Enforcement Career
In 2012, Ryan left the military and moved back to Wisconsin to pursue a career in law enforcement. He graduated in the following spring from Blackhawk Technical College's Law Enforcement Basic Recruit Academy. He accepted a position with the McFarland Police Department and became the department's first K-9 Handler. Ryan and his partner, Boris, were like two peas in a pod.
Ryan was a remarkable man who was proud of his job as a K-9 handler. He enjoyed giving presentations with Boris about what their job entailed. Ryan was a very loyal and loving husband, son, and brother. He was a friend, leader and mentor to many of his co-workers and his associates. He was also a very tenacious, talented and confident gentleman, who was a perfectionist at everything he did. He had a huge heart and a great sense of humor that will be missed by all who knew him. During his time off, Ryan enjoyed spending time on the golf course, hunting on his land in northern Wisconsin with his cousins and family, but most importantly, he looked forward to quiet nights with his wife and their two dogs: Chloe and Boris.
In December of 2015, K9 Boris was reassigned to McFarland Police Officer Jeremy Job. As of today, they have completed training and worked their first official tour together on February 27. A strong bond has been built between the two, and we have every confidence that Officer Job and K9 Boris will make an outstanding team.
The Department remains close to the Copeland family and connects with Amanda Copeland often. Amanda has remained active in Department special events, and is participating in the creation of the department's memorial wall inside of the police department.
Ryan's name will be officially dedicated to the National Law Enforcement Memorial on May 13th, 2016 and to the State of Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial on May 20th, 2016. Several members of the department will travel along with the Copeland family to Washington, D.C. for the ceremony in May.
Ryan is missed tremendously by his brothers and sisters at the McFarland Police Department and in the law enforcement community. His passing has left a huge hole in all of our hearts that we will likely never be able to fill. His legacy will live on in our continued work with his K9 partner, Boris.
A Tribute to Officer Copeland
End of Watch November 23, 2015
Ryan Copeland was special. I knew it the first time I met him. My staff, other Village employees and anyone who met him knew it. I could speak volumes about his incredible aptitude towards police work, his competency as an officer, and the skills that made him valuable to our department. This however, would tell only a small part of who Ryan Copeland was.
In his short life, through his time in the military and here as an officer, he did more to help his fellow man and his community than I could hope to do in two lifetimes. I remember in his first interview with the department, one of the questions was "Tell us about a stressful experience you have encountered, and how you handled it." Most candidates would go on to talk about a difficult boss or something like that. Ryan very coolly and calmly began to relate a story about a firefight he was involved in Afghanistan. By the time he was done, our mouths were hanging open in wonderment. He experienced more in a couple hour period in Afghanistan than most of us will face in an entire career.
If there was ever a person that would be entitled to have a chip on their shoulder, it would be someone like him. Yet there was never one there to be found. Instead, what was always there was a smile on his face and kind words on his lips. He was the kindest, most unassuming person I have ever met.
You see, Ryan Copeland was special.
Moments before his death, he met a school bus at a four-way intersection. I know this because the bus driver, having learned of the accident, called to tell us about it. Ryan smiled and waved at the children, and they excitedly waved back. Seconds later his watch ended.
Ryan and I spent many an hour together planning, structuring and implementing our first K9 Unit. He would begin and end each discussion by addressing me as "sir". I remember telling him that he did not need to call me sir every time we talked. His response was "Ok, yes sir". Despite his short tenure as a police officer, he functioned much as though he was a veteran of several years. Other officers looked up to him as a mentor. I attribute his competency to the many years spent in the military. He came in more than prepared to serve in the role of a police officer.
Ryan had three main loves of his life. First and foremost, his wife Amanda. Ryan and I recently had conversations about fatherhood and the possibility of him starting a family. Ryan would have been a great dad, the kind that any child would be fortunate to have, and I would have loved to have seen him have the opportunity. Second, his K9 partner Boris. He loved and committed himself to Boris with a passion second only to that of his wife. Ryan poured his life and soul into making our K9 Unit a success. He lived and breathed all things K9. Third, Ryan loved to hunt.
Ryan's passing has left a hole in our hearts that we will probably never be able to fill. He will live on in our memories and in our continued work with Boris.
Ryan Copeland was special... and we miss him terribly.
Our brother and friend, we wish you a peaceful rest.
- Chief (Ret.) Craig J. Sherven, McFarland Police Department