Chief Couper strongly believes in formal education for police. He worked nights on the Minneapolis Police Department tactical squad while he attended classes at the University of Minnesota. As chief of police in Burnsville (MN), the department become one of the first in the nation to require a four-year college degree for police officers. In Madison, Couper became a disciple of Dr. Edwards Deming’s methods of quality improvement and applied them to the police. Of all the things Couper did during his twenty years as chief of police in Madison the most important were that his leadership brought peace to the streets of the city, integrated the department, and gained respect for Madison police officers; respect that had been lost during street battles with anti-war protestors before he came to Madison.

He holds graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and Edgewood College in Madison. He has written many articles over the years calling for police improvement. He wrote How To Rate Your Local Police, and with his wife, Sabine Lobitz, Quality Policing: The Madison Experience. His latest book (2012) is Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police (Amazon).

After retiring from the police department, he attended seminary and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. At the present time, he serves St. Peter’s, a small Episcopal church in North Lake (WI). He is married to Sabine Lobitz (also a former police officer). Together, they have nine adult children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. David continues an active life as a writer, poet, priest, cyclist and cross-country skier – and, yes, “observer of police.”

22 Responses to “Author”

  1. Man, I love that pix of you in the 60’s!! look forward to the book, Steve & Kathy S/V KIT

  2. David, I’m delighted to note that you have now registered your genius & modelling by giving us a textbook for turning “Law Enforcement” into “Law Empowerment.” You & Sabine are a remarkable team in this inspired movement! I’m thankful, with many others that you have also taken this enlightment into organized religion, where I am working for similar phoenix emergence. Hallelujah…!
    Lloyd Rediger

  3. Elizabeth MacKelvie Reply May 1, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Am very much enjoying listening to you on WPR. Impressed that you’re now part of the clergy. I’m very interested in issues related to justice.

  4. Chief Jack W Morse (ret) Reply July 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I am certain that this book will become a must read in many training facilities and class rooms everywhere. Your keen insight and ability to express the research and thoughts has improved over the years, succinct .interesting,and timely. Thanks for sharing with us even when we are retired “from the job” as we say in the east.

  5. Please consider the below article for a guest blog post…

    Thank you for your time,

    Michael A. Wood Jr.

    • Michael, thanks for sharing this tragic story. This sadly is an example of “unintended consequences.” But compassion requires us to take action. What can be done in such a situation? How can the officer now be helped? What about future situations in which the present policy should NOT be followed?

  6. Hello,

    I work for a training and advocacy organization called Strategies for Youth, which works to improve police/youth interactions and reduce disproportionate minority contact. I stumbled upon this blog and am very interested in learning more about your experiences and insights, as well as telling you a little bit about Strategies for Youth. Given my quick read of your blog, I think you’d find our work interesting. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss this further. Thank you, and I hope to hear from you soon!

    Best, Paige

  7. Mr. Couper,

    Thank you for traveling to Rockford, Illinois to speak at our promotional ceremony this week. We appreciate the wisdom you shared.

  8. I really like your blog and I find it very insightful. Keep up the great work!

  9. I’m happy someone’s questioning what everyone takes for granted as the norm!

  10. I need to to thank you for this excellent read!

    ! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you saved as
    a favorite to check out new things you post…

  11. Very descriptive post, I liked that bit. Will there be a part 2?

  12. Was intrigued by this blog until I read more. CRAP

  13. Mr. Couper,
    I am not surprised that police officers or former police officers do not support outside review of complaints about police. My experience concerning internal review has changed the way I look at police. I had a police officer lie in court to protect someone that assaulted me… That the police should be allowed to self-investigate is absolutely adverse to the rights of citizens to have fair government. I have seen many good police officers and have seen bad police officers… I had a local police officer, who had 20 years on the force, tell me that it is usual for officers to lie in court. To all good police officers, I want to thank you for your loyal service to the community and our country.
    God Bless America

  14. I received an email about ordering your book for the holidays but I received the following error code: “The following discount code(s) did not apply and must be removed: PVGUDCW4″. HELP! I would love to have this book for me and my command staff. :-)

    • Jim, thanks for this. I will take the liberty of quoting a piece from your conclusion to your important article: A disciplined commitment to team analysis of error can lay the foundation in criminal justice or realizing the new ideal of continuous quality improvement that is transforming the culture of contemporary medicine.” And that’s what this blog is mostly all about — “continuous quality improvement.”


  1. Super Huge Digest Post – 6/14/2013 | deafinprison - June 14, 2013

    […] Any cop who has pictures of MLK and Ghandi on his wall, is OK in my BookPhoto: Improving Police […]

  2. Let’s Talk (Again) About Community Policing via Improving Police | Walking the Social Media Beat - June 3, 2014

    […] I was just going to hit re-blog and add my 2 cents, but this has so much value that I want you to see it all without having to make another move. But I will ask if you do like it as much as I do, then click on the link at the end and leave your thoughts with Chief Couper. […]

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