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Tony Kop — perhaps one of Pagosa Springs’ most recognizable faces — is retiring from the Pagosa Springs Police Department, effective today.
The move comes after more than 22 years with the department and 29 years in law enforcement.
“I think a lot of it has to do with my age,” Kop said of his decision to retire, adding, “I still want to do things while I’m young … able-bodied and minded.”
Too, Kop noted that being a street officer is a physically and mentally demanding job.
Kop was hired by the PSPD in early September 1991, before that working for the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, at a community corrections facility and as a park ranger.
When Kop joined the PSPD, he was one of four in the department and, as a street cop for the entire 22 and a half years with the PSPD, became well-known among Pagosa’s residents.
He chose to work for the town, he said, because of the town itself — a stable environment for his kids and family.
“The community’s going to miss him,” said Donnie Volger, police chief at the time Kop was hired and current mayor.
Current police chief Bill Rockensock echoed the sentiment.
“It’s going to be hard to replace Tony,” Rockensock said, adding, “He’s been here the entire time I’ve been here. It’s going to be difficult not having him around.”
‘A great cop’
But, besides his tenure with the department, what made Kop special?
“He turned out to be as stable and trustworthy as any officer I ever had,” Volger said. “He was just somebody you could count on, no matter what.”
Too, Rockensock noted that Kop possesses traits that only come with time, and that can’t be taught at any training academy, noting that Kop is well-liked, knows the people in the community, is steady, stable and employs common sense.
Rockensock also noted that Kop does what’s right simply because it’s the right thing to do, “and you don’t see that a lot anymore.”
“He just wanted to be a good police officer,” Volger said. “He’s a great cop.”
For his part, Kop noted that he’ll miss the relationships that the job provided.
“I’ll miss the people here a great deal,” Kop said, adding he’ll miss giving each other a hard time —part of letting things go in such a serious profession. “I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here.”
“I love him dearly,” Volger said, calling Kop his best hire as police chief. “I could go on and on and on.”
Riding into the sunset
While Kop may not be riding off into an actual sunset when he ends his last shift (but then again, he might), he will be riding off.
Kop is taking much of this summer (in between making mandatory appearances in court for ongoing cases) to ride his motorcycle, he said, with a trip planned that will take him more than 4,500 miles.
He is also planning a move to be closer to family.