Grover Beach police chief plans to retire in December

Jim Copsey has been Grover Beach's police chief since 2005.
Jim Copsey has been Grover Beach's police chief since 2005. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Jim Copsey, who has worked in a joint role of police chief and assistant city manager for Grover Beach since November, announced Tuesday his intention to retire in December.

Copsey, who has served as the department head since January 2005, will retire effective Dec. 26. He has 27 years of service in local law enforcement.

Copsey said in the written announcement that he looks forward to moving on with the next chapter of his life, which will include travel and spending time with family.

In November, Copsey took on additional responsibilities as assistant city manager, a move unanimously approved by the City Council. He also stepped in as acting city manager for a period in 2013 while City Manager Bob Perrault recovered from an extended illness.

Perrault said he doesn’t plan to look for someone who can work both as police chief and assistant city manager, nor does he expect to hire an assistant position.

“Jim had some rare talents that really provided some assistance to me,” Perrault said. “He was extremely well-organized, balanced, and has a strong work ethic and ability to delegate within his own department.”

Prior to coming to Grover Beach, Copsey served as the police chief for the King City Police Department for more than two years. He began his career with the city of Monterey Police Department.

In taking the assistant city manager title concurrent with Police Department duties, Copsey’s base salary jumped an additional $13,230 a year, to a total of $144,192 annually.

The Grover Beach Police Department, which serves a community of 13,000 residents, is currently staffed by 17 full-time sworn officers and eight non-sworn personnel and operates on a $3.5 million budget.

Perrault said Friday that he’s not sure yet how he will fill the position. While Perrault may take input from the City Council, the decision rests with him, and he could hire from within or hold an open recruitment.

As assistant city manager, Copsey took over some labor negotiations and assisted with an internal water task force that meets weekly to discuss current drought conditions, Perrault said.

As chief, Copsey remained unruffled through some difficult situations, including a tsunami warning in 2011 that led to the activation of the city’s emergency operations center.

Copsey also established community policing in town by dividing the city into four areas and assigning a lead officer to work that area, helping to foster better relationships with the community, Perrault said.

In his written statement, Copsey praised the department he will be leaving.

“As a department we have consistently provided a high level of quality services to the residents and business owners in the city,” he said, “while dealing with some of the ongoing challenges typical of providing services in a small town.”

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