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
“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
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
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
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
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
“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
Behind The Badge
The veteran lawman says a good police chief has to be
willing and able to work with others.