Tom Cooper was born on August 4, 1950. A career in policing was on his mind throughout his time at Waterloo Collegiate. His was accepted by the OPP on October 4, 1971, just a month after his twenty-first birthday. Tom worked in both the north and south of the province but he was attracted to northern Ontario and chose to go back there when he had the opportunity.
He worked in Kingston, Sharbot Lake, Burlington and Milton. He was primarily a traffic officer at those detachments and he trained on motorcycles and worked on two wheels in the latter two detachments. Tom had an insight into northern postings when he worked at Gravenhurst and Bala, but it was in places like Minaki, Ignace, Dryden and Grassy Narrows that he came to enjoy the wild country. He worked at Grassy Narrows from 1981-1983 and was determined to return to the north in the future.
Grassy Narrows is an isolated Ojibway First Nations territory of perhaps seven hundred residents. Tom Cooper found satisfaction in working with First Nations people and understood the problems of unemployment and isolation they faced. In turn, the aboriginals had a good rapport with Tom. When he came back to Grassy Narrows detachment as an acting sergeant in the charge of the detachment, there was general local approval.
When Tom returned for his second posting at Grassy Narrows detachment he found there were real problems with substance abuse among the local people. On Thursday, July 25, 1991, Sergeant Cooper and a fellow Constable were called to a firearms complaint call. A twenty-seven year old, part-time trapper and guide was terrorizing his family after they had confronted him about his behaviour due to gasoline sniffing. Sergeant Cooper knocked on the door of the family home unaware that the man was outside and nearby. Cooper was struck in the head by a .22 bullet and died at once.
The suspect fled into the bushes and a search party of up to 79 officers took place. During the four days of searching for the suspect, two additional officers were wounded. The suspect was found on the fourth day and was arrested without further incident.
A memorial service was held for Sergeant Tom Cooper in Kenora and later a funeral was held in Kitchener. Today, they recall Tom Cooper with a big plaque at the detachment where he worked.
Tom was survived by his girlfriend.