Sleepless nights, long shifts, weekends on the job and doing whatever he can to protect his town. That was the past four decades. Now, Wyoming Borough Assistant Police Chief Joseph Kopko can breathe a sigh of relief and do what he hasn’t done in a long, long time: relax.
Kopko, 60, retired on June 6.
On his last day on the job, Kopko was not looking for one last heroic effort, but rather just a peaceful night where nobody got into trouble.
“I just wanted to get through it and make sure everything was good afterward,” he said. “I wanted it to be a nice, quiet shift. I’ll miss it. I’ll miss dealing with people and I’ll miss the guys.”
Kopko first began working for the Wyoming Police Department in 1973 while attending his second year at Luzerne County Community College in pursuit of a teaching degree.
After he graduated from then-College Misericordia a few years later, there were no jobs available for him in his field of study, so he continued working at the department.
After he began substitute teaching at Wyoming Area, he thought about retiring from police work.
“My intent 10 years ago when subbing was to teach and retire from the police force,” said Kopko. “However, I just kept going back.”
Kopko looks back with some fond, and some not so fond, memories of his days on the force.
He recalled one evening when his wife hurt her leg and he had to pick her up from the hospital in his patrol car, only to be called to investigate a disturbance.
“It was weird ‘cause my wife had fallen and I had to bring her home in the cruiser,” said Kopko. “On the way home, there was an armed robbery, so I had to stop the vehicle with my wife in the back. She’s yelling ‘Be careful!’ while I’m trying to apprehend these guys.”
Aside from working as the assistant police chief, Kopko also serves as the in-school suspension counselor at Wyoming Area High School and is certified as an elementary and family consumer science teacher.
He won’t need to worry about being bored in retirement since in his spare time he serves as Emergency Management Director for the Wyoming Borough Fire Company and has served as president of the fireman’s relief association for 30 years.
Kopko is also a state certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
Relieved he no longer has to go from one job to the next, Kopko is looking forward to enjoying his summer now that school is out.
“It’s nice to (go to school), go home and not have to worry about changing, watching the time and being out the door in 20 minutes,” he said. “It’s a lot less stress. I’ll be getting extra rest and I have several jobs around the house to get done and enjoy my vacation.
“Summer times were never vacation times,” he added. “I had to use vacation time from the other job, but now I don’t have to worry about it. Family affairs are in plan so I can do things with them and spend time with them.”
Kopko’s family includes his wife Deborah and two daughters, Kathleen and Kristen, all of whom are happy to see him no longer in harm’s way as a police officer.
“My wife is very relieved,” said Kopko. “Today, you don’t know what’s going to happen when you go off to work. My daughters are happy, too.”