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CPD honors local lifesavers
CPD Chief Stacey Cotton presents Officer Matt Cooper with the CPD Medal of Valor. - photo by Jackie Gutknecht

COVINGTON, Ga. – On Sept. 3, 2018, Covington Police Department Officer Matt Cooper was shot in the line of duty. First Responders from all over Newton County came to the rescue and Wednesday evening CPD took the time to individually thank each one of them. 

“Within about 48 hours of Matt’s incident, I had envisioned tonight,” CPD Chief Stacey Cotton said. “I knew at some point the beauty of what was occurring and we could see, even at the early hours, that the men and women who were instrumental in saving Matt’s life would need to be recognized. I didn’t know when it was going to be – whether it was in a month, two months, six months or a year – but I felt like the best way we could honor the first responders that made a difference in this community would be to do it with Matt on this stage with each and every one of them.”

Cotton walked through the Labor Day 2018 incident that left Officer Cooper in the fight for his life and thanked each of the first responders that played a role in allowing them to get to this point.

The suspect died in an apparent suicide, but Officer Cooper survived. 

"When I emerged, I realized what was going on and how it brought the community together in ways I never even thought of," he said.

"The way y'all took care of me and my family when I couldn't leaves me speechless. There were some nights we'd lay in the hospital and just cry trying to figure out why people were so nice to us. Makes a good feeling. Makes it worth why we do it, because of what they're doing for us."

Cotton said it would be impossible to recognize every person that played a role in the survival and recovery of Officer Cooper, but he is forever indebted to them. 

“In doing so, they joined our department and this community in becoming 148 Strong and Cooper Strong,” he said. 

Cotton then presented Officer Cooper with the CPD Medal of Valor for risking his life and suffering a life-threatening injury in the course of his duty. Cotton also presented Officer Cooper with the CPD’s highest honor, the Police Star, which is given for acts of heroism and bravery with the threat of serious injury or loss of life.

“I thank the Lord that on Sept. 3, 2018, He allowed us all to have Matt Cooper remain here with us,” Cotton said. 

During the ceremony, Cooper’s wife Kristen was named an honorary police officer for CPD.

“You’ve inspired us just as much as Matt has,” Cotton said.

Cooper said he plans to return to work and hopes to mentor new officers.