Interview with Deputy Steinle of the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.
Many people out there want to know what it’s like to be in Law Enforcement, but few ever take the initiative to ask what it’s really like. We have taken the initiative to interview Deputy Steinle of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County California and he has offered to share some of his experiences with us.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Your welcome. You said you’re doing this for a newspaper?
Close, it’s a website that helps people who want to pursue a career in criminal justice and we think that an interview with you could help them figure out if they really want to be an officer.
Well, then I’m glad to help.
Let’s start off easy, could you give a short history of your work as a deputy and why you chose to pursue a career in law enforcement?
I work as a patrol deputy for the OC Sheriff’s Department North Patrol Region. Before that I’ve worked as a jail deputy, a bailiff, and a recruitment officer.
I wanted my career to be something that reached out and affected all areas of my life: to be physically and mentally active, help other people and something that was different everyday. Being a police officer seemed to be the best fit.
Well it sounds like you had some pretty high expectations, was it everything you hoped it would be?
A career in law enforcement is what you make of it; if you are motivated and driven, you can achieve many things. Thus far, my expectations have been met in regards to my career path.
As long as we’re on the subject, are there any things you dislike about being a deputy?
Sometimes it’s a little frustrating to see people disregarding law enforcement. It seems like every other day a news article will bash the police and what they’re doing and I keep seeing young kids who have absolutely no respect for law enforcement. All we’re trying to do is provide a safe and secure place for people to live and work.
Well, you basically said that you love your job so I’m assuming there are some really rewarding experiences that keep you at it.
Of course, can I share one of them?
In June 2010 I came across a terrible motorcycle accident where a man’s leg had been completely severed. We were able to save him and I wound up using a belt as a makeshift tourniquet to staunch the bleeding. A while later, I received a letter from a woman thanking me for what I had done that day. She was the daughter of the man I’d saved and she wanted me to know how greatly she appreciated what I had done. I don’t care if I never get another accolade the rest of my career –that was the most rewarding experience of my career.
A tourniquet? So in addition to the law enforcement training you must have undergone some medical training too. Is this something all deputies learn?
Oh yeah, it’s standard procedure to have deputies trained in multiple areas in case of emergencies.
So hypothetically, what skills or experiences do you look for in an officer before you train them?
Well, as I already said, I was a recruitment officer before I was a patrol officer, so I know exactly what we look for in a new recruit. You need to be someone who has integrity and is ethical. We look for people that are driven and are positive members of the community. Education, bachelor’s degrees and such, are a plus though that’s not a necessity. We look for people with skills, and military experience is always a plus. We look for physically fit people because this career is a physically demanding job that requires endurance and physical strength.
You need to look at yourself and see if you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared. People undervalue the emotional part of the job which affects people in different ways. You might have to mediate a physical dispute between two subjects that are in a physical confrontation. You also have to be studious and learn many different codes and laws, not just state and county laws, but also specific city laws and what your department’s codes are.
That’s a lot to take in.
Everybody needs to have a complete picture of what is required of you when making this career choice.
Okay, a little earlier you said that you would need to mediate some physical disputes. How tough are those?
They can get pretty dangerous if not handled properly.
What’s the most dangerous experience you’ve had working as an officer?
A wanted parolee (PAL) high on meth stole a car and had other stolen property in the vehicle and attempted to flee. I pursued him through 3 cities until he crashed and was later captured after a foot pursuit. At any point he could have crashed into a civilian or a child (he was driving through neighborhoods at high speeds) and could have had a weapon on him and it was fortunate that no innocents were hurt. Another Officer and I finally managed to subdue him in a tire shop.
Another time I got called out to a burglary and on a regular day we get 3 or 4 audible burglary alarm calls and you never know whether it’s real or armed robbery and you have to be prepared for the worst. Another deputy, his trainee, and I arrived at the scene of a bank robbery in progress. The robber had robbed 7 other banks before and was armed with a revolver. I cut him off and he ran into a gas station and I pursued. He turned and ran into a heavily traveled highway and I tackled him in the second lane and we managed to subdue him and bring him into custody
Those sound like very harrowing experiences.
It’s important that we perform our jobs in a professional manner to keep the public safe.
Let’s completely switch gears and talk briefly about the TV show, CSI. Do you think the public has gained any misperceptions of law enforcement from watching that series?
Not really. I think some people are affected by it and think that the technology they use has changed policing more than it really has but I think for the most part people recognize it’s just a TV show and not really accurate.
Would you like to set the record straight about how much technology has really changed in the past few years?
Sure. I’ve been working since 2000, so I’ve been around for eleven years. Since I started working Tasers have been introduced, which has reduced injuries to officers and combatants. Personal computers in patrol cars have made communications much easier and improvements to the armoring of vehicle doors have made them safer too. We’ve even had some changes in weaponry. When I started out we used Smith & Wesson pistols and now we use Glocks. Also, improvements with DNA have completely changed investigations and have become an outstanding investigatory tool. Police work is continually evolving as society changes.
I have one final question, then we can finish up. How do you find your niche in law enforcement? How do you know what job you want to perform and what rank you want to rise to?
In each of the positions that I’ve held, the department trains you for each role it expects you to hold. The OC Sheriff’s Department trained me to work in a jail and after I worked in the jail system for the appropriate length of time, the OC court system trained me to work as a bailiff. Our department is good at training and pairing young deputies up with older experienced deputies and learning on the job. Training classes are good too and our regional training facility is one of the best training facilities in the state. For recruiting I had to continually seek new ways to find potential recruits and assist them in pursuing careers with the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. I also helped develop a physical fitness program for new recruits who are training for entering the police force.
I wanted to have a strong grasp of the entire Sheriff’s Department’s different aspects. I wanted to really know about custody, court operations, and patrol. I really love being a deputy and I’m not currently seeking promotions. I’ve been working towards building a firm basic knowledge of all of our different functions. The Sheriff’s Department of Orange County is a large department and has given me opportunities in many different areas. I see myself working in this patrol position for a few more years at least. I don’t want to be in a supervisory position (Sergeant) before I feel that I’m the best deputy I can be.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
CriminalJusticeSchoolInfo interview conducted by Kevin James, in September, 2011. Kevin is an undergraduate Literature student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His love of writing and previous blogging experience with a police force led him to intern with Criminal Justice Schools Info in 2010. He hopes to work in book publishing someday.