By Kim Steele
Harker Heights Herald
If someone had typed Randy Stefek's blood as a youth, the result might have been a surprise.
While Stefek obviously carries one of the four main blood groups - A, B, AB and O - doctors would have found another unusual component attached to his red blood cells. Stefek, 29, a corporal with the Harker Heights Police Department, readily admits that law enforcement flows through his veins.
"It's a different kind of job, and it's got to be in your blood," he said. "You either love it or you don't. I started with the department when I was a junior in high school as part of the explorers volunteer program, and that sealed the deal for me. I knew this was what I wanted to do in life."
Stefek, who joined the department in 2003, progressed from administrative call-taker to dispatcher, patrol officer, motorcycle officer and finally to supervisor. Since January 2008, he has overseen the department's K9, traffic and directed enforcement units, and served as assistant team leader for the Special Weapons and Tactics team.
Stefek's passion for his job was rewarded in October when he was named the city's Police Officer of the Year during the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce's 23rd Annual Awards Banquet and Celebration. Stefek was nominated for the fourth year in a row by his boss, Sgt. Stephen Miller.
"I nominated Randy because he's like an Energizer Bunny who keeps on moving all the time and doesn't stop," said Miller, who has supervised Stefek since 2005. "He gets really involved in what he's doing, and he does it well. He has the highest standards and I'm really glad he works for me."
Miller said Stefek always has loved police work. Even now, said Miller, department members remember his eagerness as a volunteer explorer to ride along with officers - even helping one make an arrest. Stefek deserved the city's award "four times over," said Miller.
Stefek was recognized as employee of the quarter in March 2010 by the Harker Heights City Council.
Works with K9 units
Stefek said he supervises two traffic officers, two K9 officers and dogs and two directed enforcement officers. The traffic unit provides traffic enforcement, gives escorts to prisoners and funerals, handles vehicle accidents and investigations and conducts traffic surveys.
The K9 unit is used in both patrol and narcotics investigations. Directed enforcement officers are assigned to various duties in targeted areas, from neighborhoods victimized by a high number of burglaries to streets where traffic infractions have become a problem.
"All of these units really manage themselves," said Stefek. "They have their own responsibilities and are a tremendous asset to the department. My job is to help guide them along and make sure they have what they need so they can do their work effectively."
Stefek is in charge of the department's traffic statistics initiative, which involves deploying traffic survey equipment, collecting and analyzing data, and comparing it with citizen complaints and identified concerns. He also works with local and state agencies to improve traffic flow and control devices.
As SWAT assistant team leader, Stefek participates in the unit's training, as well as helping to plan raids and missions. He coordinates support missions between the department and Fort Hood involving the transportation and protection of high-risk individuals.
But of all his duties, the nearest and dearest to Stefek's heart is his patrol work, where he rides the streets of Harker Heights on his white Harley-Davidson Fairing motorcycle. Stefek said the department has two motorcycles on the road, with a third slated to join them soon.
Stefek participates in monthly training on the bike, including speed and slow cone patterns, as well as overall handling. And he attends the annual Gulf Coast Police Motorcycle Skills Championships, which this year took place Oct. 12-15 in Gonzales, La., to attend classes and compete against other police motorcyclists.
The competition includes challenging courses, motorcycle survival techniques and advanced turning and braking seminars. Officers attending gain skills and confidence in motorcycle control, safety and survival during high-risk stops. Stefek has been competing in the championships since 2005.
In 2007, Stefek placed fifth in the nation in the novice division. Each year, his skills have improved, and in 2010, he placed 10th in the nation in the expert division. This year, Stefek came in third nationally in the expert division, bringing home a large trophy for the department.
"These competitions show that we can ride safer and more accurately," said Stefek. "There are a lot of dangerous situations on the road for police motorcyclists - objects in the road, fast braking and vehicles pulling out in front of us. Our continued training helps us avoid accidents."
And although Stefek has career goals, they do not - for now - include moving up the ladder and into the chief's seat. Stefek said he plans to continue doing what he's doing, progressing daily, and teaching others what he's learned over the years as a policeman.
"I'm more the type of person who likes being on the road and interacting with people," said Stefek. "I'm not a desk kind of guy. There have been days that I haven't come in the office until the end of my shift, and that's how I like it."
Contact Kim Steele at email@example.com or (254) 501-7567.