California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 14

Part of Steckler’s mission at IACP -- which has more than 20,000 members in more than 100 countries -- is to lobby the nation’s leaders to throw more resources into law enforcement. “My goal, at the federal level, is to get Congress to understand that the first duty of government is to protect its citizens,” Steckler said. Ever since he was a kid growing up in San Clemente, Steckler – the oldest of nine children – knew he wanted to be a police officer. He said he got the idea from movies and television. No other relatives were in law enforcement. His first job was delivering newspapers, from the sixth to ninth grade. From 1968 to 1980, Steckler worked for the San Clemente Police Department. During that time, he earned an undergraduate degree from Cal State Los Angeles and did graduate work in public administration at Cal State Fullerton. Steckler particularly is fond of the three years he spent as a sergeant for the San Clemente PD, handling robberies, homicides and other crimes. But he always kept a close eye on what the police chief was doing, and knew that someday he wanted to run his own department. That opportunity came when he was named chief of the Piedmont Police Department, in 1980. For six years, he was police chief of the city of 11,000 that overlooks the San Francisco Bay. Steckler, who graduated from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, worked on a chicken ranch during his midteens before becoming a truck driver for the Register. His other positions at the newspaper include circulation and mailroom manager. Then, in 1986, Steckler joined the Fremont PD as deputy chief. He was named police chief in 1992. Always, though, Steckler’s heart was set on law enforcement – and, once he started working as a police officer, rising to the top. “You have to be able to collaborate,” Steckler said, “and understand that your work as a police officer can impact Chief Steckler leads his troops 14 | Behind The Badge The veteran lawman says a good police chief has to be willing and able to work with others.