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Town of Beloit taps Kopp as interim police chief

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 15, 2011
— The new, temporary head of the Town of Beloit Police Department hopes he can keep the job permanently.

The Beloit Town Board on Monday voted 3-1 to appoint former Janesville Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Kopp as the town's interim police chief. Officials expect the position to last four to six months while the town searches for a full-time chief.


Kopp, who retired from Janesville in December 2009, said his goal is to be hired as that full-time chief.


"I'm a longtime town resident, and I know this police department has a great deal of potential," Kopp said. "Given my history in the town and my experience in law enforcement, I think I'm the person to help the department reach its potential."


Kopp said his first responsibility will be to talk to Administrator Bob Museus about what the town expects from its temporary chief.


"Clearly, there needs to be steps taken to work past the recent controversy and get the town and the department to move forward," Kopp said. "I'm ready to move full-speed ahead."


Much of the controversy involved former Town of Beloit Police Chief John Wilson, who retired Jan. 18.


In 2009, Wilson was reprimanded for using racially offensive language in office. Now, he and the town are defendants in five federal lawsuits.


One suit claims Wilson refused to use the services of a local towing company because the owner is black. The others, filed by existing and former employees, claim Wilson retaliated against employees who complained about him to management.


Monday, town board member Phil Tabor cast the lone vote against hiring Kopp.


Tabor nominated Sgt. Laura Palmer, who was appointed acting chief when Wilson retired. That vote failed 2-2 with Tabor and board Chairman Dave Townsend voting in favor of Palmer.


Board members Jim Stephens and Rob Pavlik voted against Palmer. Board member Dick LaMonte was absent.


Kopp has lived in the township most of his life. He worked for 32 years in Janesville including seven as a patrol officer, two in the drug unit and three in the detective bureau. He has held the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and deputy chief.


Kopp also is among the candidates seeking the chief position in the Milton Police Department. He has not considered how that prospect will fit in with his new job with the town of Beloit, he said.


"This was a bit unexpected this afternoon," Kopp said of getting the interim position.


Kopp said that when he applied for the town of Beloit's interim post he "made it clear" he only was interested in the position if the person chosen would be considered for the full-time chief post, he said.


Three Rock County Sheriff's deputies stood on duty at a Beloit Town Board workshop meeting Monday. The town asked the sheriff's office to provide security in case emotions got the best of anyone as a result of the recent controversy in the town, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.



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