Sunday, October 17, 2021

Men in Blue: Meet Frank Steiger

Officer Frank Steiger. Photo by Val Simon

Officer Frank Steiger. Photo by Val Simon

by Val Simon

Frank has been with the Marco Island Police Department for 4 years. He hails from South Bend, Indiana and says it took awhile to get accustomed to Marco Island, especially being waved at with all five fingers while driving around the town!

How did Frank make his way to Marco Island? He was an officer in South Bend for 20 years and several of his friends had moved to Collier County. Jim Hassig, his Division Chief in South Bend, told him about Marco Island. Frank said, “There is a 180 degree difference between South Bend and Marco Island! It’s like night and day! I love Marco Island and am looking forward to retirement here one day.”

Frank spent 18 years in a SWAT team as a sniper. He then became a Defensive Tactics Instructor. Jim Hassig, along with Frank, created the Civil Unrest Team of the South Bend Police Department. When Jim retired, Frank took over as commander of the team. We handled ‘riots’ and frequently dealt with civil unrest or disturbances of that nature. In South Bend, Frank spent 16 of his 20 years on the road and four years in the Detective Bureau. There he investigated hundreds of robberies. In fact, he was the lead investigator in 7 bank robberies. “Of those cases, I personally handcuffed four primary suspects and was a part of the arrests in the other three robbery cases. “ Frank served as a sergeant for 9 years and his last two as a Lieutenant before retiring from South Bend.

When asked to expand on his proudest moments as a policeman, Frank said, “I was assigned by the Secret Service as a counter sniper in 7 presidential details. Out of all my assignments, one ranks up there as one of the best. I was assigned to the Special Olympics. It was a week- long event sponsored by Notre Dame. The people involved were amazing.”

What was the worst part of being a police officer? “It has to be going through the loss of fellow officers in South Bend, Indiana. During my time there, 6 lost their lives in the line of duty, dozens more were injured.” Frank indicates FBI statistics show South Bend, Indiana and Youngstown, Ohio are the most dangerous cities in the nation for law enforcement personnel. “In 18 years I was in maybe 1000 raids, one hostage situation, and a plethora of drug and robbery arrests, as well as 200 homicides”.

“One thing changed in all these years, the equipment. In my first raid I used a 6 shot revolver. Now it is all automatic weapons, M4’s, MP3’s. It represents a change in our times. I’ve seen enough action for two lifetimes! It makes me appreciate Marco Island even more!”

“I also appreciate the experience of my co-workers. They really have a wealth of experience and knowledge. Some of us are in the Geritol Shift. We have two retired police chiefs, three retired lieutenants and 140 years of experience between us!”

“While assigned to the marine unit I assisted in a manatee rescue, rescued a father and his two young sons who were floating in the gulf, assisted in the apprehension of 5 people who were in the process of stealing a boat and who were also involved in human smuggling.”

“Pro-baseball was my first career choice. Law enforcement came in second. Where else could I use my favorite saying, ‘Make My Day’? There will always be a need for the police. We are the first line of defense on the home front.”

“Marco Island has an amazing quality of life. The support this community shows to the Police Department and its personnel is unheard of in other areas. We really appreciate it.”

When asked if he had any words he’d like to share with our readers Frank said, “Enjoy life! In a blink of an eye it can change!”

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