California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 12

California’s Godfather Craig Steckler takes his policing message global Craig T. Steckler always wanted to be a cop. At age 25, however, the former truck driver for The Orange County Register had a minor hurdle to overcome: A spotty driving record. Nothing serious, mind you – just a few traffic tickets. “I’m glad they took a chance on me,” Steckler said of the San Clemente Police Department, which by hiring the hometown boy in 1968 launched an illustrious career that has made Steckler one of the most respected police chiefs in the state. “We call him the Godfather of California police chiefs,” said Leslie McGill, executive director of the California Police Chiefs Association. Steckler is past president of the organization. “I’ve known him for 20 years, and he’s been the biggest mentor of my career -- and I’m not even a police officer,” McGill said. “He’s the first one I turn to if I need advice. He’s a very generous and respected leader.” Steckler, 67, is adding another title to his already stellar resume, which goes beyond his beat and administrative work at three police agencies: first vice president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Steckler assumed his new position at IACP in October at the annual gathering of members of the world’s oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization of police executives. Steckler is a lifelong member of IACP who first was appointed to the organization’s executive committee in 1997. “It’s not very fun being a police chief in this economic environment, trying to move your department forward when you are down to your core services,” said Steckler, police chief of Fremont, the Bay Area-city of about 214,000. Like cities throughout the state, Fremont has been forced to whack its budget due to the recession. The Fremont Police Department, which Steckler has run since 1992, is down to 177 sworn officers, from a high of 212. 12 | Behind The Badge