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Date of Issue: December 20, 2007

HBPD names new community policing officer

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Officer Brian Copeman is Holmes Beach Police Department's new community resource officer. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

Officer Brian Copeman dared to step up for the job he wanted.

And he got it.

Copeman, 29, is Holmes Beach Police Department’s new community policing representative, which includes serving as the resource officer at Anna Maria Elementary School.

“I expressed my interest in the position and, lo and behold, I was appointed,” Copeman said Dec. 13, the day HBPD Chief Jay Romine announced the appointment.

Romine said Copeman would serve as a resource officer at the school, where he will work with students in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education or DARE program, and as the community liaison, working with the business community and other constituencies.

The chief said Copeman would begin his new duties “as soon as scheduling permits.”

Copeman said he expects to begin working at the school after the winter break. AME and other Manatee County School District schools will be closed Dec. 24-Jan. 7.

Copeman joined the Holmes Beach Police Department in April 2005 after working for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

“My stepfather had been in law enforcement,” he said. “I’ve had an interest in it my whole life.”

Copeman’s life is rooted in Manatee County. He said he’s “Bradenton born and raised.”

Copeman is presently on daytime patrol for HBPD.

He said he sought the new appointment because “I love being out and being with the community and working with kids. I have kids of my own. So it seemed like a great opportunity.

“I see it as a great chance to open the lines of communication and to get to talk to children, to help them out and to be a friendly face.”

The position Copeman will fill, first established with a federal “COPS” grant in the 1990s, has been vacant for some time. Officer Pete Lannon, known Islandwide as Super Pete, had held the job. Lannon died in June, after a yearlong battle with cancer.

During the fall semester, the post remained vacant due to a hiring freeze at Holmes Beach City Hall.

Last month, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, in consultation with Romine and AME principal Tom Levengood, thawed the freeze to name Lannon’s successor.

Copeman said he hoped to carry Lannon’s torch.

“That’s going to be one of the tougher aspects of this,” Copeman said. “He did such a wonderful, great job.... But I’ll do the best I can and continue that great relationship he had with the community.”

Of Copeman, Bohnenberger said, “I think he’s well-suited for the job. He’s young enough to be able to relate to students at the elementary school.... I expect him to become a big brother.”