Rochester police chief wins state award

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 1, 2019

 Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm

Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm

Photo provided by the Rochester Police Department

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ROCHESTER — Rochester Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm was recently named the Administrator of the Year by the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

Schettenhelm, who began his tenure in Rochester as chief in 2007, said that it’s an honor to receive the award and be nominated by his staff.

“In actuality, it’s those folks … that do the work. They’re the ones that make me look good, and I certainly appreciate their effort and their ideas,” he said. “Being in police work is just like any sports team: It’s a team effort, and we’ve got a good team behind us.”

Schettenhelm thanked the Rochester City Council for its support, along with his wife.

“My wife certainly puts up with a lot because of the hours and phone calls, so I certainly can’t go without thanking her for her support,” he said.

Rochester police officer Amy Drehmer and Sgt. Michael Mancini recently appeared before the Rochester City Council to inform them of Schettenhelm’s award and to share their nomination letter.

“It’s kinda long, but that’s because he’s done so much,” Drehmer said.

The letter explains how Schettenhelm transformed the department when he took over as chief. His first move, Drehmer said, was to remove the ticket quota and “make urine bags for the officers a joke of the past.”

The nomination says that Schettenhelm genuinely cares for the department, its employees and the community.

“He makes it a point to stay in tune with day-to-day operations by going out and helping out during events; making scenes to help, not supervise; and even makes traffic stops on occasion,” Drehmer said.

Schettenhelm has allowed officers and dispatchers to work 12-hour shifts by their request, introduced comp time, and never reduced manpower, even during the recession. He added a dispatcher position, two ordinance officers and a narcotics officer, and expanded the command structure by adding a lieutenant position so that every shift has a direct supervisor, and someone is specifically in charge of operations and administration.

Schettenhelm, Drehmer said, worked tirelessly to introduce a K-9 unit to the department, created an evidence technician unit and expanded the size of the honor guard. He created a motor unit, added two Segways and an ATV as vehicles to use for special events, and expanded the physical structure of the department by adding a garage to store motorized equipment.

Schettenhelm had carports built to protect the fleet from the elements. He had security cameras installed in and around the building, and high-technology locks installed on the doors of the department.

What sets Schettenhelm apart, Drehmer said, is his interest in the community.

“He works diligently to maintain a positive image of the department to the public, which is done through courtesy and transparency,” Drehmer said.

Schettenhelm introduced station tours for schools, Scout groups, churches and children’s birthdays; initiated a department open house; created e-commerce parking; provided a place for residents to drop off unwanted medications; and continues to host a holiday food drive every year for those in need.

Schettenhelm also instituted a Citizens Police Academy to encourage citizen involvement, and a Paw Patrol Program, which Drehmer said encourages and trains people out walking their pets to report suspicious activity.

“Our department, as a whole, truly feels that Chief Schettenhelm defines the term ‘leader,’” Drehmer said.

Schettenhelm will be presented with a plaque by the association at its yearly gathering in Grand Rapids May 23. 

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