The word "hero" takes on many meanings to many people. To the men and women of Kalamazoo Public Safety, Officer Cameron Kooy was a reflection of heroism everyday from his caring and compassionate nature, his twenty-three years of dedicated service and the bravery in which he battled brain cancer which sadly took his life in 1997. He will be forever remembered in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.
Most police officers have a niche within the many duties of law enforcement in which they exceed expectations. Officer Cam Kooy's passion was the pursuit of drunken drivers. "Cam was one of the greatest hunters of drunk drivers," said Officer Todd Christensen. "Cam would refer to their actions as a mobile homicide." Cam won numerous MADD awards and many times was the leading officer in the entire county of Kalamazoo in drunken driving arrests. His tenacity for clearing the streets of dangerous drivers saved untold lives that will never be known by virtue of a statistic. And in his pursuit, Cam treated those he arrested with dignity and respect. "Cam treated his drunk drivers like they were long lost cousins," remembered Officer Scott Szekely.
Officer Cameron Kooy was also well known for always having his night stick in tow. "Cam always had his hat, night stick and flashlight. One night Cam busted a burglar and recovered about a hundred items of stolen property. While inventorying the items, he was smiling and still wearing his hat, night stick and flashlight," said Szekely.
But what people most remembered about Cam was his incredible faith as a God-loving and God-fearing man. "Cam was certainly not you stereotypical tough guy police officer," said Officer Jeff Koch. "He was a brave man and not afraid to show his Christian faith and reflect God's love to anyone he came across. He made you feel genuinely cared about when he would talk to you."
Also a field training officer, Cam Kooy was known for not only living his faith but sharing it with others through prayer, birthday cards or sharing his food with others. Officer Christensen recalled his first night working patrol and still not familiar with the streets of Kalamazoo. "Cam handed me a new city guide book and a spare key to my cruiser," he said.
"After I completed the field training program, Cam provided me with three well worn and tattered books on police tactics and survival," recalled Officer Craig Stouffer. "Cam said he always made sure all rookies had no excuse not to learn the safety and standards outlined in the books. Cam was concerned with everyone's safety not only because it was his job but because he truly cared. It was not uncommon for Cam to investigate a burglary only to return after his shift with a shop vac and help the victim clean up the mess. He was possibly one of the most genuinely kind person I have ever met."
Officer Walt Wawra became a close and personal friend of Cam's after Walt was hired in 1992. "Cam didn't base human worth on the worldly definition but it was his desire to love and serve his Creator, Jesus Christ," said Officer Wawra. As already narrated by co-workers, "Cam strove to love thy neighbor and saw that every person he met was in fact, his neighbor. Many people look to sports figures and actors as heroes but the greatest hero I have ever met was Cameron Kooy."
After his death a bronze plaque attached to a rock near the intersection of Parkview and Oakland was dedicated and stands tribute to one of Kalamazoo's finest heroes.