Acting Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger was sworn in as police chief during a ceremony Thursday in the City Clerk’s Office.
Both Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and former Mayor Edward Clancy Jr. attended the ceremony, joining members of Mr. Coppinger’s proud family and other high-ranking Lynn Police officers at the ceremony.
“I’m very honored to be the chief of the Lynn Police Department,” said Coppinger during an interview at police headquarters Monday morning.
Being chief of the department is an especially momentous achievement for Coppinger, who is a third-generation Lynn Police officer and attended school in Lynn.
His father, the late Joseph Coppinger, was a captain of detectives in the department. His uncle, the late Jimmy Coppinger, was a detective in the department. Mr. Coppinger’s great uncle, Jim Coppinger, was a detective on the vice squad in the 1920s and 1930s.
“I had the whole police upbringing and grew up in the police culture,” said Coppinger. “I’ve always wanted to do it and my education helped me on that path.”
Coppinger attended St. Joseph’s School and St. Mary’s High School. He graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He also holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Maria College.
While at Northeastern, he participated in the college’s co-operative education program and took a position at the Lynnfield Police Department in 1976. He became a special intermittent police officer in Lynnfield in 1978 and a permanent officer in 1983.
Coppinger transferred to the Lynn Police Department in August, 1985. He was a night division patrolman before being promoted to Sergeant in September, 1986, earning a top score on the civil service test. He ascended to the position of lieutenant in 1989 under Chief Jack Hollow and was assigned to the internal affairs/public information/special projects coordinator position.
In the summer of 1992, he was promoted to Captain and was shift commander of the second division (1 a.m. to 9 a.m. shift). In August, 1995, Coppinger became the youngest deputy chief in LPD history at the age of 38. In 2000, he became the deputy chief in charge of operations under Chief John Suslak. In the fall of that year, he became the first Lynn Police officer to attend the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He participated in a three-month intensive training program at the Academy.
“The FBI Academy was a great experience and very helpful,” said Coppinger. “I made a lot of good friends and the training was the best in the world. It really was quite an experience.”
Coppinger was sworn in as the Acting Chief of the Lynn Police Department in July, 2009, He participated with three other LPD candidates, Deputy Chief Kenneth Santoro, Captain Mark O’Toole, and Captain Michael Mageary, in a rigorous evaluation and testing process for the position of permanent LPD chief. The process that was conducted by a private assessment company. Coppinger recorded the highest score on the exam and was recommended by the assessment company for the chief’s position. He officially became chief on Dec. 31, 2009.
“I had very good competition,” said Coppinger. “The assessment company officials said they were very impressed by the quality of the candidates. Luckily, I came out on top.”
Coppinger is setting the direction of the department and will be meeting with the new mayor to discuss goals and objectives. Coppinger would like to see the number of police officers increase in the 172-member department.
“When you look at the size of the department, the size of the city, and the crime rate, 225 officers would be an ideal number,” said Coppinger. “Obviously the way today’s budgets are, that’s not going to be a realistic number.”
Coppinger said he is looking forward to working with Mayor Flanagan Kennedy. “I’m very encouraged by a fresh face coming in to lead our city. We were joking the other day that we were both starting new phases of our career at the same time so we want to do the best we can.”
Coppinger has been reaching out to different groups in the city, seeking the highest quality of public safety for all residents. “My number one priority as chief is the public safety of everybody in this city – whether they’re a resident, a visitor, or a worker, ” said Coppinger. “If somebody’s in our city and somebody becomes a victim of a crime, we want to work to solve that crime. Actually we want to work to prevent that crime from ever happening.”
Coppinger is very active in the community and has been hailed for his efforts as the leader of the Manning Field Committee. Through his leadership efforts and those of committee members, the new Manning Field has become one of the most outstanding and widely used sports complexes in the state.
Coppinger and his wife, Beth, have two sons, Sean, 17, a junior at St. Mary’s High School, and Kevin, an eighth grader at Our Lady of Assumption.