Chris Kopp is a man who has worn many hats.
The 39-year-old Florida native served in the U.S. Marine Corps from September 1999 - March 2007, reaching the rank of sergeant. He then began his law enforcement career in South Florida before moving to North Carolina, where he's lived the last 10 years.
Kopp has since returned to Florida, and started as the town of Longboat Key’s code enforcement officer at the end of June.
“I think we all have the same goal here, whether you're a resident, whether you're an employee on the island, or we're just a visitor, right?” Kopp said. “We're all attracted to this beautiful island, and we want to keep it beautiful. And I just think that part of code enforcement is just that. It's working together to keep what we have, not lose any of it, and keep that for generations to come.”
Kopp takes over the town’s code enforcement officer position for Chris Elbon, who left the position for personal reasons in May.
The code enforcement officer is part of the town’s Planning, Zoning and Building Department. The person in this role is responsible for several different kinds of inspections to make sure people are following the town’s codes, ordinances and regulations.
The position makes sure people abide by town rules and regulations. It includes high grass or weeds, property maintenance, unpermitted work, short-term rentals, sea turtle protection, trailer or vehicle parking, environmental hazards and zoning.
Kopp said he’s hoping to help the Longboat Key community through educational outreach opportunities.
“A lot of times people view code enforcement as, ‘Oh, we did something wrong,’ and it shouldn’t be like that. A lot of it’s going to be educational,” Kopp said. “Sometimes, people just don’t know or they don’t know how to fix something. I think bringing in all the resources that I have from my training experience, plus all the resources from the town, coming up with a good solution without dishing out fines and citations and being kind of the bad guy on the block.”
Once concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic are a thing of the past, Kopp said he wants to be accessible to Longboaters by attending in-person meetings with the community, different HOAs and Town Hall.
“People need to know who I am, right?” Kopp said. “They need to know who to call and who the right person to call is. We get calls all the time, ‘I didn’t know who to call.’ Well, let us be your first stop, and if we can’t help you, we will work with the people who can.
“Code enforcement is kind of a know-all, catch-all. I hear from citizens a lot, they’re like, ‘Well, I didn’t want to call the police on this matter,’ which makes code enforcement that perfect opportunity for anybody here on the island, when they don’t really know who to call, we can be that first line of defense to help them achieve whatever solution they’re looking for.”
After the Marine Corps honorably discharged Kopp, he worked as a police officer for the Margate Police Department from March 2007 - March 2010. He then moved to Concord, N.C. to work as a deputy sheriff for the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, Kopp has also served as an adjunct instructor at Central Piedmont Community College, as a police sergeant for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and as a public information officer for the Fraternal Order of Police North Carolina Lodge No. 9.
In North Carolina, Kopp also owned and operated the security service Lockdown International. The business provides safety training and security consulting services to businesses, organizations, schools and places of worship.
Being closer to family is what brought Kopp back to Florida. He grew up in the Fort Lauderdale area.
“We’ve got a lot of family in the area,” Kopp said. “We’re very familiar with the area. This isn’t like all new to us. We’re very familiar with Longboat Key, Bradenton [and] Sarasota.”
On the personal side, Kopp and his wife have fostered more than 60 kids. It’s something he’s looking forward to continuing in Florida.
“When I saw the code enforcement position, working with them in law enforcement, I just thought the position itself was a great transition,” Kopp said. “Then it just being on Longboat Key just made it the perfect position.”