SEND-OFF: Capt. Willie Cope retires from Pike County Sheriff’s Office

Published 4:00 am Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Wednesday afternoon event was billed as a retirement reception for Capt. Willie Cope of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, however, the atmosphere was more like the Comedy Club.

The downstairs courtroom at the Pike County Courthouse was packed. Members of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department filled the jury box and well-wishers spilled over into the hallway.

“This crowd is a testimony to the kind of man Willie Cope is,” said Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas. “He is loved by the entire community. I’ve never seen an outpouring of love and appreciation like’s here today.”

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Cope retired from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department after 24 years. He worked for Troy University before Thomas first hired him to work part-time at the jail in 1995.”

“Willie and I are both from the Goshen community,” Thomas said. “I knew his dad, Robert. There was not a better man and Willie carries on his dad’s legacy.

And there’s not a better family anywhere than the Cope family. I knew Willie would be a valuable addition to the sheriff’s department.”

Cope was already active in the community, especially as a coach with the Troy Recreation Department.

“Willie works well with any age,” Thomas said. “He is a good leader. He embodies everything that goes into the making of a good public servant. Willie is understanding of people. He is compassionate when he needs to be and firm when he has to be. People respect him and they have trust in him. Willie can talk to anybody and they respond to him. On the job, he can get information from people that none of the rest of us can. And, it’s not the church choir he is getting information from.”

Cope has 33 years in service to his country, active and part-time service.

“His military training prepared him for a command position with the sheriff’s department,” Thomas said. “He brought so much to the department. Willie will truly, truly, truly be missed.”

One by one, family members, colleagues and friends shared humorous stories about Cope. But each story ended with, “thank you for your service.”

Cope thanked all who came to wish him all the best in his retirement years. He gave praise to God for His guidance and protection over the years he was called to serve and protect.

“I praise God for His guidance over then 24 years,” Cope said. “I have not been shot or cut or hurt.” Then, he added a bit of his own humor to the gathering. “I waited until I was 63 years old to that.”

Cope laughingly said he was bush hogging one Sunday morning and got tangled on the machinery and fell and broke his leg.

From out in the courtroom, someone yelled, “Well, you should have been in church!”

Nobody laughed louder than Willie Cope.
He thanked Sheriff Thomas for believing in him and taking a chance on hiring him. He thanked his family, his friends and all those in the sheriff’s department.

“We’ve been together so long, we’re like family,” Cope said and, then made a plea to all to pray for him and for his friends in the sheriff’s department. “Pray for them every day. Their job’s a lot harder now than it used to be.”

Cope said he won’t be seen around the courthouse every day, but he will be around.

His friends said, collectively, that Willie Cope is loved by the community and will be remembered as an honorable man.