“I'm ready; you know 36 years in the same profession is long enough,” said Chief Steve McQueen, with Winooski Police.
Steve McQueen has spent the last 20 of those 36 years as Chief of Winooski Police. During his career he's seen a lot of change.
“We didn’t have computers to start with. We didn't get computers until the mid-80s. You know now we have networks, the internet, camera systems, everything’s digital, smart phones, just like everything else it makes life easier but also harder at the same time,” said McQueen.
McQueen says other things have changed too, like the city of Winooski; both the landscape and the population.
“And that started with the Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees, and we've had every nationality since. Which is also changed the community; personally I think it’s for the better. It’s far richer and much more diverse,” said McQueen.
As always the budget changed and in this case he says it just keeps shrinking; and as the community changes, spending habits change too.
“I mean ten years ago if you would have told me that I would be spending money on an interpreter to speak different languages I would have thought you were kidding. But that's what we are doing right now. So who knows what the next ten years is going to bring, what challenges the next ten years is going to bring. Whether it’s too Winooski or to the state,” said McQueen.
While budget constraints will always be an issue, McQueen says the growing heroin epidemic will plague his replacement as well.
“I mean there's no doubt the influx of the drug dealers, you know the entrepreneurs and the opiate addition is going to be very, very challenging for us. And it has been for Winooski for the last couple of years,” said McQueen.
When asked if he sees an end in sight to the drug problem, McQueen quite simply replied no.
Overall McQueen says he's proud of the work the department has done during the last three decades. They've established an alternative justice program, and partnered with the Winooski Community Justice Center.
“It’s been challenging over the years. You know some of the decisions I’ve made or we've made you know may not have really worked out the way we had hoped. But I don’t consider those regrets,” said McQueen.
After he turns in his badge his legacy is the only thing he'll leave behind. So I asked how he would like to be remembered in just one word.
“I guess caring, that I care about what happened here and what happens to people around me. So I guess in one word that would be it,” said McQueen.
After he quits the police department officially on Sunday he'll take on a special assignment in Winooski as he rewrites the city's ordinances. When he officially retires next year, McQueen and his wife will relocate to Florida, where he plans to drive a bus at Disney World.
McQueen’s replacement, Sgt. Richard Hebert will be sworn in on Tuesday.
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