COTTOWNOOD -- An institution around the Cottonwood Police Department for more than two decades, Commander Jack Stapleton officially stepped off the force and into retirement Friday.
Police Chief Jody Fanning recalls the story of patrolling the fair one year with Stapleton as his partner and being converged upon by a throng of kids. Jack was known as "Officer Friendly" and administered the DARE program in Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Dr. Daniel Bright Schools as a School Resource Officer.
Stapleton was the public information officer in charge of Communications. He was promoted to sergeant in 1988 and became lieutenant in 2004, a title later changed to administrative commander.
Stapleton rose through the ranks, since his 1983 law enforcement certification, entirely within the Cottonwood Police Department. He retires after 26 years as a cop.
He was widely hailed during a Friday retirement party for "getting citizens involved," as City Manager and former Chief Doug Bartosh described "the most important attribute of policing."
Fanning and others commended his role in establishing single-handedly the Citizens Academy, with its offshoots of the Citizens Academy Alumni and the COPS volunteer program.
Fanning says that program "would not have been possible without Jack." The program is really "quite outstanding" for a small department.
Kris Vogler with the COPS program presented Stapleton with a gift certificate for dinner for two with $5 for the tip.
Before sharing cake and coffee with the troops, Fanning presented Stapleton with his badge and service revolver and was invited to return as a volunteer with the COPS program that he had established.