NASHVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The law enforcement community is joining the small town of Nashville in mourning the loss of a deputy, detective and police chief with more than 30 years wearing the badge.
Nashville Police Chief Chris Koster died after his car left the road as he was on his way to work Thursday morning.
“He made a difference, he’s the type of cop you want in your community,” said Blaine Koops who worked with Koster for 17 when Koops was the sheriff in Allegan County.
Koops watch Koster go from a patrol deputy to a respected detective who specialized in crimes against children.
“It takes special person to handle these types of cases and Chris was excellent at it,” said Koops, now the executive director at the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association.
Koster retired in 2011 after 27 years on the force but then decided to take on a new job as the police chief of the four-person police force in Nashville, not far from Hastings.
“When he was interviewing for our open position at the time, there was no doubt at the end of our interview who our chief was going to be,” Nashville Mayor Mike Kenyon said, adding that the village felt lucky to get a law enforcement officer of Koster’s caliber.
“He brought our department into the 21st century,” Kenyon said. “It was just wonderful to see the way he carried himself and his professionalism here in town.”
Around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Koster was in his personal car on his way into work from his home in Plainwell, traveling on N. 32 Street north of E B Avenue in Kalamazoo County’s Richland Township. Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department investigators say his car left the road and hit a tree. Koster died from his injuries. Why the crash happened is under investigation, but alcohol does not appear to be a factor.
Koster was 59. He leaves behind a wife and two sons, both in law enforcement, one with Allegan County.
The death has hit Nashville hard as people remember Koster the cop and Koster the man.
“I never saw that guy not smile. He’d come to work with a smile: ‘Mornin’, Sheriff,’” Koops recalled.
“Chris, he had a gruff exterior but he was really a warm, teddy bear kind of guy,” Kenyon said.
**Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled former Sheriff Blaine Koops’ first name as Blane. We regret the error, which has been fixed.