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.
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.”