With Retirement Approaching, Cooper Reflects on His 30-year Career With Sheriff's Department

November 1, 2014 | When most people are threatened with bodily harm, they rightfully become concerned for their personal safety. ...

November 1, 2014 |

When most people are threatened with bodily harm, they rightfully become concerned for their personal safety. For others, those threats can mean something entirely different.

Such is the case for Elk Grove Vice Mayor and Sacramento County Sheriff's Captain, Jim Cooper. 

Cooper, who has served on Elk Grove's CityCouncil since the city's inception in 2000 and is celebrating 30 years of service with the sheriff's department, reflected on some of the often harrowing and heart-wrenching experiences in roles are varied as an undercover narcotics officer and department spokesperson.

Currently involved in very tight race for California's Ninth Assembly District, Cooper will be turning in his badge in the very near future in preparation for retirement. Depending on the outcome of Tuesday's race, Cooper could be retiring in when he is sworn into the California Assembly or early next year if he were to continue on as an Elk Grove City Council Member.

Having started his Sheriff's Department career in 1984, as a new member of the department Cooper rotated through various duties until 1988 when his career path put him on a different trajectory. It was that year he volunteered to work as an undercover narcotics deputy.

As part of a five-member multi-racial unit, Cooper and his associates became very effective at purchasing drugs that led to the arrest of several dealers. 

"For five years we went out and bought drugs every night for five-years," he said.

One of Cooper's more harrowing assignments came in 1990 after they learned of some Colombian drug dealers working kilos of cocaine with Sacramento-based Crips and Bloods that led them to the Bay Area 1990.
As part of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department's 

drug and gang intervention program, Jim Cooper speaks to
elementary school students. 

"I drove down to the Bay Area in a white Cadillac with $32,000 in cash," he said. In the days before the abundance of cell phones, communications was done by hand-held portables and his back-up lost contact. 

Eventually they regained contact and after purchasing the two kilos, the bust was made.  

"It was pretty crazy driving down there," he added.

He also recalled buying rock cocaine from some South Sacramento Dealers. When he entered the dwelling, Cooper, who is 6' 3" met with  several well-armed men bigger than him.

After purchasing the drugs, a swat team swarmed the unit and arrested the dealers.

"There were a number of scary incidents like that over the years," he added.

Following his five-year voluntary undercover duty, which included playing a crucial role in the 1991 Good Guys incident where he helped secure a the release of a hostage, Cooper's role at the Sheriff's Department took on a diametrically different role - he became the departments spokesperson.

As part of this assignment, Cooper was on 24-hour, seven-days-week on-call duty. During this time, Cooper appeared on television numerous times and became a familiar figure to area residents.

Although he made untold appearances on behalf of the department, one incident stands out for Cooper.

On one Christmas morning, he was summoned to Mercy San Juan Hospital to detail the death of an infant. That child, who was only 13-months old, was beaten to death by the mother's boyfriend. 

"That is something that you carry with you the rest of your life," he said, noting he was the father of young children at the time. "It makes you appreciate life."

In his role as an undercover narcotics agent, Cooper's and his associates became so effective that rap songs were written about them. He added that he wore it as a badge of honor.

"I have had about 12 rap songs written about me," he said. 

One rapper, Sacramento-based C-Bo, wrote a song about killing him titled "Desparado Outlaws." The lyrics include "...they'll be gunnin' down Cooper, cuz he wanna send all n***** to the pen, thinkin that they f#cked, but G's don't bend..."

Cooper also learned that there was a contract put out on his life by some Rancho Cordova gang members 

"It was wild, but you enjoyed going to work and doing your job," he said. "It was good to see neighborhoods cleaned up and the residents being happy about that." 

"It's been a good career, and there are somethings you never forget," he conclude

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Anonymous said...

Mr. Cooper made $184K in 2013 ($118k in base salary plus $65k in other pay). He'll retire with 90% of his salary for life which is probably based on his regular pay so that's $106k/yr. No wonder he's running for the legislature this year where he'll make another $100k/yr for 12 years then add a second pension.

I respect the heck out of law enforcement but does it mean they should all be 1% ers?

Anonymous said...

Does all this means he will be a good Assemblyman ?

Anonymous said...

I think you have a bias.. I think that if you are going to talk about Mr. Coopers salary that you should also talk about Councilmen, Darrell Fong's pensions and history with the Sac City Council. Mr. Fong is also taking a very hefty sac pd pension. Ironically, he actually voted to cut his fellow police officers pension, but not his own pension that pays him over 140K a year. Plus his 60K+ a year City Council salary. Darrell Fong is trying to now take a promotion after his first term on the city council, talk about a stepping stone...

Why is it that the Sacramento City Council has so many paid staffers and large amounts of discretionary funds to spend on the tax payers dime? I've always wondered how Elk Grove with a population of over 170K has been able to have a very much more effective city council. I Understand Sacramento is twice the size of Elk Grove, but the Elk Grove Council function on very very few city staffers. Maybe this is why Elk Grove has managed to balance their budgets for the past 14 years.

Also, as voters we should actually be happy that State Legislators no longer receive pensions after leaving office.

I will be casting my Vote for Mr. Cooper. I don't believe Darrell Fong has the experience to be our assembly representative. Also, i am not a fan of negative campaigning and it appears to me by the amount of mail that has flooded my mail box that all of Mr. Fong campaign mailers have been very negative. As a voter i want to hear about the candidates record and accomplishments. Mr. Fong's campaign has clearly nothing to show that he has done or accomplished since being an elected official or else they wouldn't spend all of their tine trying to smear the other candidate.

Thank you for listening to my rant... :-) Vote for Jim Cooper, Vote for Elk Grove!

Anonymous said...

Umm, no, make that three pensions--County, City (serving on City Council), then Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Advertisement paid for by Cooper for Assembly.

Anonymous said...

Fundamentally, two questions are relevant to this discourse:

1. Have Elk Grove residents experienced an increased quality of life over the 14 years Vice Mayor Cooper has been on the Elk Grove City Council ?

2. Have Pocket-Greenhaven and Valley Hi residents experienced an increased quality of life over the past 4 years?

On Nov. 4th District 9 will decide.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 20:41 you are correct. I posted the original comment at 12:59. But this article isn't about Mr. Fong. Safety pensions and salaries are out of control. 3% at 50 when you work a desk job dealing with unions, budgets, and HR is laughable. No wonder I'm getting so many mailers saying every Peace Officer Union backs Cooper. They want to keep the golden goose laying those golden eggs.

That being said I'll probably still vote for Cooper. I don't begrudge Cooper for playing the pension and safety worker game. Those are the rules. I'm pointing out his salary, benefits, and pension so the rules get changed.

Anonymous said...

All 1% ers? I have been in law enforcement for nearly as long as Cooper and I won't have retirement like that! I will have a decent retirement, but that is one of the perks of the job for doing what we do.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with the figures posted, I do wonder at what price we put on a persons life that goes to work every day to keep us safe and not knowing if they will come home to their families at the end of their shift. It just seems that may come at a high cost to us all. We are just now seeing that happen nearby with the loss of two officers.

The mailer we received yesterday from a PAC supporting Mr. Fong was very disturbing and did contain some erroneous facts. While I was on the line on how to vote, that mailer made my decision mu ch easier. We will never support a candidate who does not run a clean campaign.

SteveB6509 said...

I received a pretty sleazy phone call from the Fong came too (that's the only word I can use for it).

Phuong Trinh said...

Everyone on here needs to realize that these people, like Cooper, put their lives on the line everyday for us. Some may think that cops are rude and/or can be on power trips or whatnot, but when something is wrong, who do you call? When you need help, who do you call? The police. Without officers, our community and world will be completely different. I commend and honor every single officer out there that goes out and does their duty to keep us safe.

I don’t feel like it is appropriate for anyone to consider any police officer in the top 1%; of anybody that gets a pension like that, police officers are the ones who deserve it.
Jim Cooper is a man of honor. He has served the community for 30 years and now that he is trying to retire, he could easily go out and play golf everyday, but he wants to serve us and continue serving us. He deserves that pay because he put his life on the line. Especially with the events of last week, with two officers dying in the line of duty, you would think that all of us would recognize the selflessness and courage that police officers display on a daily basis to protect us all.

Anonymous said...

Vote for Cooper!

Anonymous said...

This man is a crooked cop. When me and my friends were in high school we were sneaking a few beers and he broke into the house with no warrant and planted a .357 under the couch and arrested someone for it. Me and my friends never had or used guns, and to this day none of us has guns or would use them. We could barely score beer let alone a .357. He is a crook of the highest order. He belongs in washington or the capitol with all the other crooks.

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