Centerville Police Department’s assistant chief retires

by Becky GINOS

CENTERVILLE—It’s been 31 years since Assistant Chief Von Steenblik walked through the doors of the Centerville Police Department and now he’s saying goodbye. Steenblik retired last month having spent his entire law enforcement career there.

“I was a reserve officer for nine months then came on full time,” he said. “I started in patrol then became a detective. I was made a sergeant over the investigation division for 17 years then last August promoted to Assistant Chief.”

Steenblik went through the POST academy and also attended Weber State University. “I was one of those kids who loved police cars and police work,” he said. “My neighbor was a Salt Lake City police officer and it was something I always wanted to do. I was the first one in law enforcement in my family and my oldest son works as an officer in Salt Lake. He kind of followed in my footsteps.”

Centerville is a good city to work in, said Steenblik. “They are very supportive of the police. A lot of people don’t want to do the job now so there’s a shortage of police officers,” he said. “Big departments are pulling experienced officers from small agencies. Once I got into investigation it allowed me to get out because they’re bad guys all over. It allowed me to do more things.”

He was part of protocol teams with Davis County and handled several officer-involved shootings. “I kind of developed an expertise in that,” he said. “I did a lot of officer interviews and got good at that.”

There have been some tough cases along the way. “There was a lot of sexual assault on children,” said Steenblik. “Then the Children’s Justice Center came into play. They weren’t there when I first started. They’re tough cases but it’s satisfying to get those kids help.”

The Harrison case where a father and son kidnapped a woman and her daughters was another big one, he said. “That just mushroomed. It kept going from kidnapping to homicide. We worked with Wyoming and the FBI. It took on a life of its own. For three weeks that’s all we did was work on that case.”

Steenblik said there was good cooperation between all the agencies involved, even across state lines. “Clint (father) committed suicide and DJ (son) will never see the outside of a jail cell ever again,” he said. “That says a lot about the investigation and how it was handled so there was no trial. It’s the case I’m most proud of working.”

Centerville Police Chief Paul Child said Steenblik threw himself into that case. “He sacrificed a lot of personal time,” he said. “Everyone spoke highly of him and his contributions. He was careful to answer the media on a regular basis. He was good at following up with victims and took a great deal of interest in that case.”

Child said he worked with Steenblik his whole career. “We worked the road together a lot and then in administration for several years,” he said. “It’s going to be sad to see him go. He’s been an excellent detective and sergeant. He was the go-to guy for other agencies.”

He was very good at taking care of people in crisis, said Child. “When they lost a loved one and he was called to investigate he was very caring and compassionate. He would keep in contact with the family. He had that human touch when dealing with people during a crisis in their life.”

Steenblik said he’s stayed at Centerville all these years because of the people. “There are good officers with high standards,” he said. “I just decided it was time. The way law enforcement is changing – the stress level is huge. Trying to take care of a department and everyone in it, there are a lot of demands. I’ll take some time off and just relax.”

“Von was attentive to detail and well organized,” said Child. “He did a lot to keep this department going. A lot of knowledge walked out the door when he left us. After 30 years doing this job that’s definitely commendable.”


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