Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm is retiring.

Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm is retiring.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Rochester Police Chief announces retirement

Chief honored with academic scholarship fund in his name

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 5, 2023


ROCHESTER — After 41 years in law enforcement, Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm is retiring.

“It’s not a secret anymore. … Our police chief, Steve Schettenhelm, has announced his retirement somewhere around the end of May, most likely, and we are actively seeking a new police chief,” said Rochester City Manager Nik Banda. “It’s a huge loss to the community.”

The decision wasn’t easy for Schettenhelm.

“It’s kind of a difficult decision. I’ve always loved my job, but it’s been 41 years in law enforcement, and it’s just a good opportunity to make a change now, enjoy my freedom and chart a new course away from law enforcement for a while,” Schettenhelm said.

Schettenhelm began his career at the Birmingham Police Department, where he worked for 25 years before coming to Rochester to serve as chief 15 years ago.

“As a kid, that was always my goal — to be in law enforcement,” he said.

Over the years, Schettenhelm said, some of his fondest memories involve being able to help the community.

“The best part of the job is being able to help people and be there when people are in a moment of need — to try to make sometimes a bad situation better, regardless of what the situation is,” he said. “There are times when people are down in the dumps and they’ve been arrested or had a difficult situation, and later on, you hear from them that that moment changed their life for the better, even though it seemed like such a bad thing at the time. That is the best part of law enforcement, that you are able to do that. Those are the things that I’ll miss, just being able to give back to the community and to help people.”

To honor Schettenhelm and his dedicated service to the city of Rochester, city staff has set up the Chief Steve Schettenhelm Scholarship Fund, in partnership with the Rochester Community Schools Foundation.

“The scholarship will honor the chief’s exemplary service, dedication to the community and his educational style of community policing,” said Holly Meyers, of the Mayor’s Office.

The annual academic scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior from Rochester Community Schools to further their education in law enforcement.

The public is also invited to celebrate the career and retirement of Schettenhelm during a special retirement event at 5:30 p.m. May 25 at The Roxy, 401 Walnut St. in Rochester. Tickets cost $25 and include hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. To RSVP, email or call (248) 733-3700.

“We will miss the chief greatly and we will have a formal going away event for him as it gets closer … but we are in the process of finding a replacement,” Mayor Stuart Bikson said.

The city of Rochester is a community of 13,300 people in northeast Oakland County. The Police Department has 22 sworn officers and eight civilian positions, and it operates its own dispatch center, K-9 unit with a bomb and patrol K-9s, two school liaison officers, two detectives and an officer assigned to the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team. The department operates on a $4.2 million budget.

Candidates interested in the chief position — which has a current pay range of between $95,039 and $123,550, depending on qualifications — were required to submit their applications to the city by March 3. Seventeen people applied for the position, and Bikson said city officials have selected four candidates to go through the screening process. One of the four, he noted, is an internal candidate, Lt. Keith Harper. The four finalists will participate in an assessment center process administered by Empco, a Michigan-based company specializing in testing services for public safety and municipal government agencies, in mid-April.

“All four candidates are well qualified, and I am convinced we are going to find an excellent replacement for Chief Steve,” Bikson said. “Our excellent Police Department is very important to the success of our city, and I am looking forward to our new chief to lead us into the future.”

In the meantime, Schettenhelm said he will remain in his role as long as he’s needed.

“I tell people I’m here as long as they want me to be, or the new guy wants me to be,” he said. “It’s probably going to be in mid-May sometime. … I’m not in any hurry to get out. It’s just however it works out best for the city.”

In retirement, Schettenhelm said he and his wife, Jenny, are hoping to travel more.

“When we were first married, we had the freedom to come and go as we pleased, so we did a lot of traveling,” he said. “We are hoping now, without the responsibilities of work, we’re able to get back to that and do a lot of traveling.”

For questions about the chief position, contact the city of Rochester’s Human Resources Department at (248) 963-0752.