Chris Cooper joins dad, Sgt. Mike Cooper, at Seymour Police Department


Chris Cooper grew up seeing his father, Mike Cooper, wear a police uniform and badge every day.

He watched his dad drive off in a police car to start his shift and sometimes even had the opportunity to ride in the car with him.

“Seeing the car and the uniform and knowing what he did every day, it piqued my interest,” Chris said.

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But neither Cooper knew from those experiences that one day, Chris would follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a police officer, too. And even more surprising is they would end up working together at the same police department.

On June 25, Chris, 28, became the newest officer with the Seymour Police Department, where Mike, a sergeant, has worked for 22 years.

It’s the first known time in the department’s history a father and son have been officers simultaneously.

During Chris’ swearing-in ceremony at the Seymour Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, Mike proudly held the Bible as his son took his oath to serve and protect the community.

Chris’s fiancee, Teia Thomas, and his sons, Gunner and Kamden, stood next to him while Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson conducted the ceremony.

Also in attendance to witness the historic moment were friends, family, including his mother, Katie, and coworkers of the Coopers.

“I didn’t expect that many people to show up,” Chris said. “It was definitely an eye-opener of the impact I’ve apparently made on people.”

It was a moment of pride for both father and son, one they’ll never forget.

But there have been many of those along the way, Mike said.

Chris graduated from Seymour High School in 2010. Not long after, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving a total of five years, four active duty with the military police in Okinawa, Japan. Mike also served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps security forces before becoming a police officer. He was stationed on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower before moving to an infantry unit.

Chris was hired as a reserve officer for the Crothersville Police Department in 2015 and was hired full time in 2016. He graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield in 2017 and was promoted to assistant police chief at CPD in 2018.

Besides his work with the police department, he also served with the Crothersville-Vernon Township Fire Department.

He’ll always appreciate the time he spent working in Crothersville, he said, as it’s his hometown.

“I liked the small town community,” he said. “You get to know everybody, recognize everybody. Everybody knows who you are. You get used to going out and doing what you need to do to help the community and knowing you impacted people.”

Although people told him they hated to see him leave CPD, they also congratulated him on the opportunity to work in a bigger community and grow as a police officer.

“I think it’s nice to start in a smaller community to get your basics and then grow from there,” he said.

But his ultimate goal all along was to end up at SPD.

“This is all I’ve ever known,” he said. “I’ve grown up in this building and the old building my whole life. To find myself finally here as an officer makes me happy.”

Chris wasn’t the only one in the family to start in a smaller community, as Mike spent two and a half years as the town marshal of Medora before getting hired on at SPD.

Law enforcement and police work run in the Cooper family, as Mike’s father was a deputy sheriff in Missouri.

“I felt destined to do it,” Chris said of his chosen career. “It’s in the blood.”

Over the years, there probably have been a few times Mike could have advised his son to take a different path, but for the most part, he has encouraged him, he said.

“This is something he wanted to do,” Mike said. “He had the vision of where he wanted to go, and I was for it.”

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t worry about his son’s safety.

“When he first started down in Crothersville, we were both on nights, so I had my radio on scan instead of just on our frequency to kind of see what was going on and make sure everything was good,” Mike said.

So far, Chris has spent his time at SPD in training, including defensive tactics, emergency vehicle operations and firearms. Since Mike is the department’s newly appointed training coordinator and the department’s only driving instructor, he has been able to oversee some of his son’s training.

Normally, an officer would spend three months in field training with another officer, but that process is expedited for officers who already have law enforcement experience and have graduated from the police academy.

Chris said his favorite training to go through is Strategies and Tactics of Patrol Stops, or STOPS, training.

“That’s one of the scenarios you can deal with on a daily basis that you just never know what could happen,” he said. “Every training, you’re going to better yourself in the end.”

Even though he doesn’t mind training, as it’s an ongoing part of the job, Chris is looking forward to getting out into the community, interacting and connecting with the people of Seymour.

It’s a community that supports law enforcement, Mike added, even in today’s environment when all police departments are being criticized publicly for the actions of some officers for brutality and excessive use of force.

“You’ve just got to put it aside,” Mike said of the negative. “Know it’s there, know what’s going on, but you can’t focus on it. You’ve got to come to work every day and do what you can to make things right and to make things better for the department and for the community.”

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