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After 27 years at the Ocoee Police Department, Steve McCosker considered himself a “hometown cop.” 

McCosker, 49, has spent the bulk of his adult life growing up and progressing through the ranks with the department as it grew from 30 to 90 officers and saw the city around it grow by nearly three-fold.

But facing the city’s early retirement age, he’s not quite ready to hand in his badge, which is why he is looking to become Marco Island’s next police chief.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed is being a hometown cop,” McCosker said. “I definitely would look forward to being a hometown cop within Marco Island.”

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McCosker is one of the five remaining finalists for the police chief’s position, which became vacant after City Manager David Harden forced out Chief Al Schettino over several embarrassing incidents and questionable decisions.

For McCosker, the issues plaguing Marco Island aren’t unique and over the course of his career, his experience translates to helping solve the problems.

One of the issues that has emerged, especially as the police department’s bargaining unit is trying to finalize a new union contract, is the ability to recruit, hire and retain quality law enforcement officers to the department.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in Florida,” McCosker said. “This is something I have been in charge with and have solved with long-term recruitment, internships and citizen police academies.”

In Ocoee, the department was able to utilize innovative strategies to attract recruits such as by earning it a designation as a training site for Montgomery G.I. Bill recipients.

McCosker’s resume also includes involvement in drafting and implementing new evaluation systems that have aided in personnel development not to mention his efforts to diversify the police department’s workforce.

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Along with earning master’s degrees in criminal justice and public administration from the University of Central Florida, which have added to his growing list of skills, McCosker also has served as a longstanding instructor both in academic, private security and police academy levels.

In posts made on his website chronically his law enforcement journey, McCosker wrote about the benefits to himself, the agency and students.

“I have come to believe that an instructor, who truly has a calling to teach, gains far more than the cadet or the future employing agency,” McCosker wrote. “As an instructor, especially if you return to the same class, you get to see the growth of the cadets and take pride in the fact that you contributed to the growth.  There is something rewarding about explaining information and seeing that ‘Ah-Ha’ moment when the student makes the connection.”

He also noted agencies can benefit by establishing a connection with potential recruits, including getting a deeper knowledge of their “true character.”  

With Marco Island’s demographics and crime profile more built around community policing, McCosker also boasts heavy involvement in interactive community programs that he’d like to bring to Marco Island.

In particular, he mentioned creating a police explorer program as well as other types of camps where police officers can regularly interact and engage with youth.

Fully aware of the issues the department has had with losing public trust, McCosker said being transparent would be a key aspect in maintaining it moving forward.

Asked about the potential for either an internal or third-party audit, McCosker said the department “will absolutely cooperate with it” if he becomes the next chief.

While any complaints, including past ones, would be treated based upon its own merits, McCosker said it was important that the community is aware and of what type of complaint it is.

“It’s important people that work for the department know we will conduct ourselves as professionals,” McCosker said.

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