Rhinelander police chief to leave for state DOJ job
Steffes resignation to be considered Nov. 4
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Rhinelander police chief Michael Steffes is in the process of leaving his current position to become the deputy administrator of the state Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement Services.
“Leaving Rhinelander is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make,” said Steffes, who noted his new job will provide him an opportunity to “improve and enhance law enforcement” across Wisconsin.
He said this new position, for which his office will be in Madison, involves overseeing four bureaus in the DOJ – Crime Laboratory, Training and Standards, Crime Information, and Justice Information and Analysis.
Steffes, who became Rhinelander’s police chief in 2007 after having been a lieutenant/sergeant/canine handler for 13 years with the Beaver Dam Police Department, has previously been associated with the DOJ as a law enforcement member of the Law Enforcement Standards Board, for which he noted he was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker.
During his nine-plus years in Rhinelander, Steffes said he has been “truly blessed with an amazing staff to work with” as the police department has kept the same number of full-time officers at 17.
His final day as police chief is slated for Nov. 1 with the city’s Police and Fire Commission to consider his resignation at its Nov. 4 meeting, said commission chairman Todd McEldowney, who noted Steffes “raised the bar for integrity and professionalism.”
McEldowney said the commission has put together a “rough draft” for posting the police chief vacancy, for which no specific time has yet been set to fill. He noted commission members will be present Tuesday at the Finance, Wage and Salary Committee meeting to discuss the cost for filling the position.
Though the commission is authorized to hire and fire, as well as promote and discipline, police officers and firefighters, he said the City Council has the “power of the purse.”
McEldowney said the commission has not discussed what to do in the interim between Steffes departing and a new police chief being hired, but the police department’s chain of command calls for the captain to be in charge in the chief’s absence.
This is not the first time Steffes sought employment elsewhere during his tenure as Rhinelander’s police chief. In May 2015, he was one of five finalists for police chief in Bozeman, Mont. A police captain in Bozeman, Steven Crawford, ended up being hired as the police chief.
The position Steffes will be taking over at the DOJ was previously held by David Zibolski, who last year became the city of Beloit’s police chief. Zibolski also was a finalist last year for police chief in Bozeman, Mont.