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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

San Marcos renames park after fallen police officer

A courtesy photo of officer Kenneth M. Copeland. On Dec. 4, 2017, Copeland was shot and killed while serving a search warrant, the first San Marcos police officer killed in the line of duty. The City of San Marcos renamed El Camino Real Park after Copeland on the third anniversary of his death.

A courtesy photo of officer Kenneth M. Copeland. On Dec. 4, 2017, Copeland was shot and killed while serving a search warrant, the first San Marcos police officer killed in the line of duty. The City of San Marcos renamed El Camino Real Park after Copeland on the third anniversary of his death.

The City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Police Department gathered Dec. 4 to dedicate and rename El Camino Real Park after officer Kenneth Copeland on the third anniversary of his death.
Copeland, 58, was shot and killed in 2017 while serving an arrest warrant in the El Camino Real subdivision in San Marcos; he was the first officer in the SMPD’s history killed in the line of duty.
The ceremony, streamed live over the San Marcos City Hall Facebook page, featured several speakers from SMPD and the City of San Marcos memorializing Copeland and his character, as well as his dedication to the community. The in-person attendance was limited to employees of the City and Copeland’s family in light of COVID-19. The park will now be known as the Kenneth M. Copeland Memorial Park.
Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp, who was the police chief at the time of Copeland’s death, opened the ceremony by thanking those who attended virtually, adding that the day of Copeland’s death would never be forgotten by him and a large part of the San Marcos community.
Stapp compared his recollection of finding out about Copeland’s death to receiving news about the April 18 death of officer Justin Putnam, 31, which also left officers Franco Stewart and Justin Mueller wounded.
“For our San Marcos PD family, and for really the latest part of our city, I think, on Dec. 4, 2017, we made a promise to never forget the sacrifices made by officer Ken Copeland on that day,” Stapp said. “There have been several events since that time where we’ve kept that promise, and today this park dedication is a huge example of our commitment to never forget that promise.”
Pastor Jeff Latham said a prayer for Copeland, whom Latham called his friend for over 17 years. Latham recounted the dedicated service of Copeland and hoped the dedication of the park could pay back what Copeland gave to the community.
“Lord, he helped us, and today we want to help him back by honoring him and his family with [the] Ken Copeland dedication of this park,” Latham said.
Latham sang “Amazing Grace” to close out his testimony before handing over the podium to Chief of Police Stan Standridge, whose remarks featured religious anecdotes, lessons over grief and the celebration of life.
“I’ve known many heroes like Ken; their testimony is not in how they died,” Standridge said. “Their legacy is in how they lived. [Grief] should be experienced and even welcomed. I would submit to you, it’s even healthy. But grief does not have the final word.”
Cpl. Matt Daenzer reminisced on Copeland’s character and the impact he had after endearing himself to San Marcos, adding that Copeland “was known for his infectious smile, and he had a knack for going the extra mile with the citizens of San Marcos.”
“There was nothing better than a cold Topo Chico after a workout with Ken,” Daenzer said. “In the days, weeks and months after his death, the outpouring of support from the members of the police department, from public safety as a whole was a testament to what Ken did for San Marcos, and it was sorely needed by his family, both blood and blue.”
During Daenzer’s remarks, a strong breeze picked up and blew over the stand and the plaque memorializing Copeland, which was donated by the San Marcos Police Association.
“That was probably Ken,” Daenzer joked.
A large blue ribbon was cut by Copeland’s family, and the plaque was unveiled by Latham, honoring the memory of Copeland, with the nickname “Topo Chico King” written just below Copeland’s name. The plaque will be installed at the park later this December.
A resolution regarding the name change was adopted in March, with the City Council authorizing the city manager to “install any signs and recognition plaques reflecting the new name of the park as may be appropriate; and declaring an effective date.”
Prior to the resolution, the Council expressed support for the park name change during a February meeting.
“He was just really well-loved by the community and by all of the PD brothers and sisters that he [worked] with, so I think it’s just really important that we show our respects,” Councilmember Melissa Derrick said at the time.
Jaden Edison contributed quote material to this story.

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