From 1970 to 1974 Coppage was a military police officer and criminal investigator for the U. S. Army. After his discharge he joined the Birmingham Police as a patrol officer. He rose through the ranks as an evidence technician, instructor, patrol supervisor, homicide and robbery detective, S.W.A.T commander, and assistant to the deputy chief of support services. He commanded the East Precinct as a captain before being promoted to Chief by Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr in 1998.
As Chief, Coppage was able to report double-digit reductions in Birmingham's overall crime rate for his first two years. The rate held steady after that. Coppage resigned his position on February 7, 2003 in order to accept the directorship of the State's Department of Public Safety.
As a member of Bob Riley's cabinet, Coppage spent much of his time lobbying the legislature to fund expansion of the department and new equipment. He oversaw the implementation of a new driver's license system and initiated the training of numerous troopers in federal immigration and customs enforcement.
Coppage resigned from the Department of Public Safety in November, 2006. He returned to the Birmingham area for his retirement, residing in the city of Irondale. On February 7, 2008, the Irondale City Council appointed Coppage to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Mike Moers in District 7. In the city's August 2008 municipal elections the number of Council districts was reduced to five, and Coppage did not run for office.
Coppage holds an associate's degree in law enforcement from Jefferson State Community College and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's in public administration (1990) from UAB. He has also completed programs for government executives at Harvard University and for executives at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Johnnie Johnson, Jr
|Birmingham Chief of Police
1998 - 2003
|Director, Alabama Dept. of Public Safety
2003 - 2006
- Debro, Anita (February 7, 2008) "Mike Coppage chosen to fill vacant Irondale council seat." Birmingham News
- MacDonald, Ginny (November 14, 2006) "Director of DPS Coppage to retire." Birmingham News
- "Coppage named Samford public safety chief." (July 26, 2009) Birmingham News
- Coppage page at governor.state.al.us/cabinet