Academy to pay tribute to Ryan Copeland

Blackhawk Technical College will award its first Officer Ryan Copeland Memorial Marksmanship Award Thursday, May 19, at the BTC Law Enforcement Basic Academy graduation in tribute to the former BTC graduate of the same program who was tragically killed last November in an auto accident while on duty as a McFarland police officer.

“Ryan was a top student and a shining example of a professional who served his community with honor and distinction,” said Gary Trulson, Dean of the Protective Services Division at Blackhawk Technical College.

“This tribute celebrates his skills but it’s also a way for us to remember a graduate who demonstrated unwavering dedication to law enforcement.  We will forever be proud of him.”

Copeland was the McFarland force’s K-9 officer with his canine partner, Boris. He attended the BTC Law Enforcement Basic Academy following 10 years of service in the U.S. Army. A member of the Green Berets, Copeland was a native of Janesville who was living in Edgerton at the time of his death. He was 33 years old.

Trained as a sniper during his Army duty, Copeland was the top marksmen in his BTC graduation class in 2013, earning him what was then called the Top Gun Award. He joined the McFarland force in 2014.

The graduation will be conducted during National Police Week and begins at 10 a.m. at BTC’s Central Campus. The keynote address will be delivered by new Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski.

This graduating class represents the first at BTC to complete 720 instructional hours, 200 more than in the past.

The 18-week program prepares students to be eligible for certification with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Training Standards Board. The program emphasizes the theories of law enforcement and tactical skills training necessary to be a police officer, deputy sheriff or sworn member of law enforcement in Wisconsin.