The Delaware County Board of Judges has appointed Katayoun “Kat” M. Copeland as the county’s district attorney, filling a vacancy created by the election of former District
Attorney John J. Whelan to the bench. She likely may be the first female to serve in that position.
A graduate of The Baldwin School, Bryn Mawr College and Temple University’s
Beasley School of Law, Copeland is a prosecutorial veteran of 25-years.
For the past six years, she worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania assigned to its Narcotics and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Section. Prior to that, she worked 19 years in the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office.
Copeland started in that office in 1992 as an assistant district attorney in the trial division and drug task force. In 2000, she became chief of drug enforcement overseeing the investigation and prosecution of cases countywide and the office’s newly established Criminal Terrorism Unit coordinating with local, state and federal law enforcement to evaluate matters linked to national security concerns.
Two years later, she became deputy district attorney, supervising and managing the office’s terrorism-intelligence concerns and drug enforcement efforts.
She became a federal prosecutor in 2011 and has worked on federal investigations involving international drug operations, armed robberies, large-scale RICO conspiracies and attempted murders. She also successfully defended such convictions before the appellate courts.
Also an educator, Copeland taught at the Delaware County Municipal Police Academy and as an instructor for the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association, and more recently, at ATF and El Paso Intelligence Center training programs.
Copeland was also instrumental in establishing Delaware County’s first drug treatment court and its veterans treatment court, and was working to initiate a federal drug treatment court program.
Copeland has earned awards and accolades numerous agencies including the Marple Township, Media Borough, Upper Darby Township police departments; the PA State Police, Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, Drug Enforcement Administration and a Special Achievement Award for the successful prosecution of a violent, large-scale Philadelphia drug trafficking gang.
The Board of Judges reviewed and interviewed 20 applicants for the position and decided on Copeland because, it said, she “presented…with a uniquely impressive blend of having intimate and long-term familiarity with the operations of the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, along with additional federal prosecutorial experiences, and a demonstrated commitment to both the core functions of a county prosecutor, as well as an established appreciation for the broader systematic concerns of restorative justice and re-entry opportunities.”
Copeland said she was “honored to be chosen” and that she intends to run an open office.
“It is my intent that every resident come to know that this office is their office, with no bounds in serving and protecting them. Whether that means addressing the growing threat of the opioid epidemic and seeking treatment for those suffering from life threatening addictions; combating the violent crime that affects our quality of life; or, safeguarding the continued well-being of our senior citizens, the Office of the District Attorney will continue to support our treatment courts and battle injustice. With my appointment, I pledge to lead this vigorous fight to ensure that Delaware County continues to be a wonderful, safe place to thrive.”