Statement by WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer On the Tragic Death of McFarland Officer Ryan Copeland

The following was issued on November 23, 2015:

Today, Wisconsin’s law enforcement community mourns as it has lost one of its own in the line of duty. At 33 years of age, McFarland Police Officer Ryan Copeland has sadly become the 274th lost in our state’s history, and the 35th officer to have died as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Prior to joining the proud ranks of the McFarland Police Department in 2013, Ryan served our country for 10 years in the United States Army, the last seven of which as a Special Forces Green Beret and sniper. In October of 2014, Ryan began working as a K9 officer after countless residents and community organizations rallied together to raise the thousands of dollars necessary to get a German Shepard named Boris. Ryan leaves behind a loving family, an extraordinarily grateful state and nation, and a distressed law enforcement community.

The passing of this dedicated public servant is felt by all those who wear a badge, both here in Wisconsin and abroad. It is felt by our officers’ loved ones as well, whose support and shared commitment to the safety of our communities makes each officer’s service possible. The law enforcement community is a vast one, and tonight, its collective heart is aching.

Thank you to all of our officers and their families who brave each and every day with a dedication to their neighbors and their fellow man, despite the pervasive uncertainty that is inherent to the profession of keeping our streets safe. There can be no greater calling than that which requires putting the safety and well-being of others ahead of your own. Amidst your grief, know that you are deeply appreciated for all that you do, even when that regard seems less than evident at times. Your service and sacrifice inspires others and lifts them up so that Wisconsin can be a safe place in which to live, work, and raise a family.

May all of our officers be blessed for their collective strength and courage, may those affected by this tragedy be lifted up from their anguish, and may they and the Copeland family find some comfort and peace in the days ahead.

In valor there is hope.

NOTE: The statistic cited above of 35 officers killed in motor vehicle accidents does not include the 25 officers that died as a result of motorcycle accidents, the 16 incidents where officers were struck and killed by motor vehicles, the 12 officers killed in vehicular pursuits, and the 10 officers killed by vehicular assaults.

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