Monday November 16, 2015 8:34 PM
“I’m not any different than anyone else, other than the fact that I put on this uniform,” said Chris Cooperrider, a full-time police officer for the Johnstown Police Department.
Cooperrider came to Johnstown in April 1997, after attending high school in Heath and receiving an associate’s degree at Central Ohio Technical College.
“I’ve been here a long time and I know a lot of people in this town,” he said, and then laughed. “I became a police officer so I could help people and make a difference for others.”
Through his time in Johnstown, he’s become a specialist in helping children and individuals with mental illness.
“There was a family who noticed their son was acting strange and they were worried he’d gone down the wrong path,” Cooperrider said.
“I worked with them and advised what I would do if he was my son.
“At first the son resisted getting help, but eventually he agreed to get treatment and said ‘thank you’ to everyone,” he said.
In an e-mail that was read at the Oct. 20 Johnstown Village Council meeting, community member Rebekah Carlisle called Cooperrider a tremendous resource for her and her family.
“In a confusing, dark, difficult time, Officer Cooperrider was a lifeline,” Carlisle wrote in her email.
“He offered clarity and expertise to help guide us.”
Cooperrider said he encourages people to call him “Coop” and think of him as just like everyone else.
His step-daughter graduated from Johnstown-Monroe high school last year and his son is a senior and his daughter, a freshman.
For 20 hours he is a school resource officer and 20 hours he is on patrol in the community.
“I have kids in the schools and so I know if we can start talking to the kids now and show them the way, it will be a lot better,” Cooperrider said.
“I get to form relationships with the students and sometimes they keep in touch with me after they graduate,” he said.
“One former student is actually now my neighbor.”
Cooperrider even spoke with Lieutenant Josh Boudinot, back when Boudinot was in school.
“I try to gain the trust of students and tell them I’m here for them and I’m a great listener,” he said. “I try to kill people with kindness and treat people with respect, until I can’t.
Although he enjoys his job, Cooperrider said it can be frustrating to respond to calls and see the same people over and over.
“It’s always the same couple of families and it baffles me that they don’t seem to get it,” Cooperrider said.
“I do my best to refer them to family services, food pantries, rehab, Moundbuilders (Guidance Center), or other resources.”
Even when he is off-duty, other Johnstown police officers call Cooperrider with questions about how to handle situations with children or those with mental illness.
“My cell phone is always on and I’m happy to help how I can.”