PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Newly sworn-in Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger poses with Sheriff Peter Koutoujian of Middlesex County at Lynn Auditorium.
By THOMAS GRILLO
LYNN — With pomp and circumstance that featured bagpipes of the Irish American Police Officers Association Pipes & Drum band, Lawrence High School Girls Ensemble and St. Mary’s High School Dance Team, Kevin Coppinger was sworn in as sheriff.
“This night is finally here,” said Coppinger as his wife Beth and sons Sean and Kevin looked on. “I never knew this was going to happen way back when we started this campaign. It’s been quite a trip and I am deeply honored and humbled.”
More than 1,400 people packed the Lynn Auditorium Wednesday night as Lynn’s police chief took on the new role of Essex County Sheriff.
Coppinger spent much of his speech thanking the many people who, he said, helped him prepare for his new role: the men and women of the Lynn Police Department where he has served as chief. He praised his fellow police chiefs whose support, guidance and friendship made him a better police officer, chief and leader, he said.
He also thanked the residents of Lynn who for more than 30 years educated him about the issues facing Lynn, he said.
“Domestic violence, intolerance, elder and domestic abuse, child neglect, property crimes, drug addiction and gun violence, these are the issues we face today,” he said. “Lynn taught me the lessons about the value and power of community, friendship, determination and perseverance. I have listened and I have learned.”
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy started the evening by reminding Coppinger that on Jan. 4, 2010, the two of them started their management careers together.
“Kevin had been police chief for four days and he walked the new mayor down the aisle for her inauguration,” she said. “It has been a pleasure to have served with him. There’s a tinge of sadness because I am losing one of my really great department heads. Lynn was fortunate to have his services for seven years and now Essex County will be proud to have his services for the foreseeable future.”
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said a key ingredient to making a strong community is keeping it safe. The public should never take for granted those men and women who work hard to keep neighborhoods safe.
“To the men and women who choose to wear the uniform and choose careers in public safety, we are grateful to all of you and your families for giving you the support you need to have such a career,” she said.
Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said he has known Coppinger for more than 20 years and he will continue the excellence of the Essex County sheriff’s office.
“Kevin believes in collaboration,” he said. “He deserves our prayers and he will continue the tradition he started at the Lynn Police Department of thinking outside the box.”
Coppinger said his first order of business will be to conduct an audit of the financial structure of the sheriff’s office, a similar audit on the treatment of inmates and rehabilitation programs, and he plans to expand the role of working with the courts to assist drug addicts.
“I am excited to get started,” he said.
Thomas Grillo can be reached at [email protected]