Ken Copeland, Sam Houston State Renaissance, was a 19-year veteran of the San Marcos, Texas, Police Department. Copeland, who was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the history of the department, was also an active-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve at the time of his passing and had previously served as a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles and a corrections officer in California and Texas.
Known for constantly placing the needs of others above his own, Copeland was highly respected by the community. He often gave away bottles of his favorite mineral water to friends as well as to homeless people he encountered while on duty. He also helped launch a Cub Scout pack at a local elementary school and served as a leader of the group. Copeland was well loved by his coworkers, many of whom kept photos of him on display at the police department.
While pursuing his master’s degree, he got to know several members of SigEp’s Sam Houston State Chapter, and they came to see the older Copeland both as a friend and a mentor. “We all loved him and felt he totally embodied all our core values. Everybody just thought so highly of him,” recalled fellow officer Joe Fratangelo, Sam Houston State ’84. In 1987, Copeland became a Renaissance brother.
Copeland was shot on Dec. 4, 2018, when he and other officers attempted to serve a warrant and passed away later that day. He was scheduled to be off duty the day he died, but came in to work overtime. This was a common practice for Copeland, who frequently worked extra hours to support his family and to help his small department better serve the community.