Former Birmingham Chief of Police and Alabama Director of Public Safety Mike Coppage has been named Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management at Samford University. Coppage was Birmingham police chief during 1998-2003 and Alabama public safety director during 2003-2006.
Coppage, a 37-year veteran of law enforcement with local, state and military agencies, will begin his tenure at Samford Wednesday, July 29.
The Birmingham resident was responsible for direction of six divisions as Alabama public safety director including the Alabama State Troopers and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and Protective Services. He coordinated emergency management response efforts of federal, state and local agencies.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley said, "Mike truly is a veteran law enforcer. His leadership and management skills were invaluable to the State of Alabama when he served as Director of the Department of Public Safety. Samford University is blessed to have him."
Samford Vice President for Operations and Planning Sarah Latham said Coppage's appointment came following a national search to replace former director Bobby Breed, who retired earlier this year.
"Mike Coppage was the ideal choice for our university," said Dr. Latham. "He brings with him a wealth of experience in the fields of law enforcement and emergency management. In addition, his managerial style and leadership philosophy are a wonderful fit."
Coppage began service with the Birmingham Police Department in 1974 and advanced from patrol office to commander of the Tactical Operations Unit (SWAT) and commander of the East Precinct before becoming chief. He also served as executive assistant, reporting to the deputy chief of the Support Services Division.
He served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer and criminal investigator during 1970-74.
Coppage holds master of public administration and bachelor of science in criminal justice degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and an associate of arts degree in law enforcement from Jefferson State Community College. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and its National Executive Institute.
He completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Dr. Latham noted that the Samford Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management had been restructured during the past school year to enhance its operations. "This restructure was informed by national best practices and trends, as well as feedback and concerns received via annual student and employee survey. The new structure and operating paradigm of our safety functions were grounded in the mission to serve and protect the Samford community with uncompromising excellence," she said.
Samford's Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management is responsible for campus security, 24-hour emergency response, law enforcement and investigative service, nighttime campus access control and security patrols. The department offers such services as safety escort, lost-and-found, battery jump start, unlocking vehicles and others.