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Gregory Cowart 1997-98 CPOA President

A Look Back At CPOA’s Past Presidents

By Sal Rosano

This article originally appeared in the California Peace Officer Spring 2011 issue.

Greg Cowart began his law enforcement career in 1968 at the age of 21 as a public safety officer with the Foster City DPS, where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He served as Chief of Police, Gilroy Police Department from 1980-1988; Chief of Police, Roseville Police Department from 1988-1991; Director, Division of Law Enforcement for the California Department of Justice 1991-1999; retiring as Chief of Police, Millbrae Police Department 1999-2003. Greg holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration. He is a graduate of the POST Command College, FBI Executive Institute, and has been a member of the faculty at Sacramento State University and Sierra Community College.

Service to CPOA
Greg joined CPOA in 1973 and considers his active participation in CPOA during the past 35 years to have been a significant asset in his professional development. In 1997, Greg was elected President of CPOA while serving as Director, Division of Law Enforcement, for the California Department of Justice. He was honored to be installed at the CPOA Annual Membership Conference in Sacramento in front of family and friends by then-Attorney General Daniel E. Lundgren. During his tenure at CPOA, Greg was instrumental in forging the Business Law Enforcement Alliance (BLEA), Officers Killed in The Line of Duty Committee, COPSWEST, re-energizing the legislative advocacy function and re-engineering the CPOA administrative structure. And during his presidency, he also developed a successful membership recruitment plan targeting peace officer personnel from federal, state and other specialized agencies throughout California.

Accomplishments Following his Tenure as CPOA’s President
During Greg’s tenure as CPOA President, he developed a sincere appreciation for the daunting technical and tactical challenges facing working police officers. Upon his retirement as Chief of Police in Millbrae, he joined the West Sacramento Police Department as a part-time police officer, went through field training and worked for four years as a uniformed patrol officer and member of the Measure K Team (vice/crime suppression/code enforcement). After serving with the West Sacramento Police Department, Greg moved to the Rocklin Police Department, again as a part-time officer. He went through field training and worked as a patrol officer, as well as serving as a detective. After three years with Rocklin Police Department, Greg moved to the Citrus Heights Police Department (his eighth agency) where he serves as a reserve officer working 20 hours a week as the department’s auto theft investigator. All of these experiences provide him with many stories to tell about the differences in law enforcement policies, procedures, philosophies and strategies. He was recently asked if his biggest challenge since retirement has been keeping up with the physical rigors of the job of police officer. Greg said that while a long night on patrol certainly takes its toll, the biggest challenge he has faced has been learning three different CAD/RMS computer systems. He points out that it was much easier for him to budget for and oversee implementation of a department’s computer system than to actually learn how to use it.

Sal Rosano, retired Chief of Police of Santa Rosa Police Department, was the CPOA president from 1984-1985. He is actively gathering CPOA historical information. If you would like to contribute, contact Sal at

1916 days ago by in Departments , Past Presidents. For comments and suggestions, please contact CPOA via email.

Opinions expressed are those of the authors or persons quoted and are not necessarily those of the CPOA state board, appointees, staff and its membership. The publication of any advertisement by CPO or the California Peace Officers’ Association is neither an endorsement of the advertiser nor of the products or services advertised. Neither CPO nor CPOA are responsible for any claims made in an advertisement published in California Peace Officer. © California Peace Officers’ Association. All right reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of the publisher. The California Peace Officers’ Association is committed to developing progressive leadership for the California law enforcement community. This is accomplished by organizational networking, professional development, technology advancement and public policy advocacy. The purpose of California Peace Officer is to inform and educate CPOA members; to promote professional development; to generate interest in association activities and to foster a cohesive and involved membership.