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Village of McFarland, WI

A tribute to Officer Ryan P. Copeland


A tribute to Officer Ryan 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 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 Craig J. Sherven, McFarland Police Department

5915 Milwaukee St. | P.O. Box 110 | McFarland, WI 53558-0110 | ph: 608-838-3153 | fx: 608-838-3619