Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider took on his newest responsibility as the president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, a voluntary agency created to help serve the people of New York, maintain law and order, as well as exercising democracy in government, a role Heider was eager to fill.
Photo by Zan Strumfeld.
continued Heider said, as chief, he knows he is making an impact on the department and community, whether good or bad, and does not hold that responsibility lightly.
“You’re in the position to create change and create an environment that is good for your employees but also good for the ‘mother ship’ - what I call the town. And to make sure you have the ability to allow people to grow within the confines of police rules,” Heider said. “We’ve done this over the years, we’ve been very progressive.”
While he’s been sworn in as chief, Colonie was ranked the safest community in the country, twice, and was listed in the top 15 safest communities in the countries for the last 13 years. Over the past 41 years, there has only been one unsolved homicide.
Heider said while “very few people walk out of here smiling,” he keeps a stern focus on treating “the bad guy fairly and the good guys with the most amount of grace that we can.”
Over the years, his work has paid off.
“I still get phone calls today from people I can barely remember thanking me for something I did 20 years ago,” Heider said.
Heider said other than newer, more technology-driven crimes like identity theft, overall crime hasn’t changed since he started; burglaries and sex crimes still exist. Yet he credited having an overall safe community with the open-minded department and town, noting “great administrators, great supervisors” and strong EMS and volunteers departments make it all work.
The progressiveness Heider takes pride in revolves around good communication with surrounding towns and cities, too.
“If I needed people real quick (from another department), by the time I put down the phone, there’d be people on their way to the Town of Colonie. That doesn’t happen in every community,” Heider said. “We are blessed in the Capital District in that we have police that get along; we help each other.”