After more than 27 years serving the community, Ocoee Deputy Police Chief Stephen McCosker is moving on.
McCosker’s last day at the Ocoee Police Department will be Sept. 3; he has accepted the position of chief of police for the city of Crestview, near Pensacola.
He started his law-enforcement career in 1992 as a patrol officer, and throughout the years he has ascended through the ranks, having served on many different units and programs within the department.
McCosker’s career highlights his passion for pioneering community outreach programs, including youth services, police internships, Police Explorers and Ocoee’s Citizen’s Police Academy. His education includes two master’s degrees — one in public administration and one in criminal justice, from the University of Central Florida — and he is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He also has experience as a criminal justice instructor and adjunct professor of criminology at Valencia College.
“We really were able to develop a long-term recruiting philosophy,” McCosker said. “That really changed the face of the department and made it a lot more diverse. We have quite a few people who were former explorers or attended the Citizen’s Police Academy or were interns, and they’ve stayed with the department for a long time after they were hired because they are familiar with the culture. Developing that long-term philosophy on recruiting is something I’m really proud of.”
McCosker also is credited with managing the Ocoee Police Department’s accreditation process, implementing combined training with Ocoee’s other public-safety agencies, running emergency operations when hurricanes hit, addressing homelessness issues and establishing a safe-driving course for those operating city vehicles.
“I always was concerned with my hometown, and there’s that sense of community pride I felt being in Ocoee,” McCosker said. “As far as having Ocoee as an employer, I always thought they treated me very well. I came to Ocoee with a two-year degree, and they paid for my bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. The other thing I found exciting was, basically, if we were able to dream it, they let us build (programs). It’s always exciting working for an employer willing to let you try out new ideas.”
Now, McCosker is prepared to bring his experience and passion for building community to Crestview, where he wants to continue his role as the “hometown cop.”
“It was the size of the agency and the size of the community,” McCosker said of what drew him to the position in Crestview. “A police department under 100 personnel was something I felt more comfortable with, and then the population was a little bit smaller than Ocoee’s. Really, the reason I think I’ve been a police officer for so long is that I really felt like I was the hometown cop in Ocoee, and so I think that’ll transition into Crestview.
“So it’s just a little bit smaller, and I think that creates that family feel both in the community and within the organization,” he said.
According to a press release, Crestview’s nationwide search for its new police chief yielded 36 candidates, both across the nation and from within the department. Crestview City Manger Tim Bolduc said McCosker impressed him both with his experience as a law-enforcement professional and his commitment to community outreach and service.
“I believe that Chief McCosker is the best candidate for the city for two reasons. One, he has the education and experience to move this department forward ... I believe he will be a role model for the community and the department,” Bolduc said a statement.
McCosker said he hopes to help Crestview expand its community engagement, and he plans to bring along some of the programs he has helped implement in Ocoee. While it’s bittersweet to leave the city he has called home for so long now, he knows that there are exciting times ahead of him in Crestview.
“(Ocoee has) been my home for 27 years, and there’s obviously people and co-workers I’ll miss, but the reason I applied for and am excited about Crestview is that it has a lot of the same things there that I experienced here,” he said. “I just would definitely like to thank the community for all its support of the police department over the years. All of the elected officials and the general community has always been supportive of the department, and that really has allowed us to do our jobs. I really appreciate that.”