by BETH ALTENA
First Lieutenant Chris McIntire is back where he started his career with the Michigan State Police. The new commander of the Rockford Post first worked as a trooper here after graduating from the Michigan State Police training academy in Lansing in 1993. In between he has enjoyed a gamut of duties and adventures.
McIntire is pleased with the position, which he said allows him to interact with the public, work closely with the Michigan Department of Transportation and visit local townships to find out where law enforcement needs to concentrate more effort.
The married father of three girls comes with many bona fides. After working as a trooper here, in 1997 he went on to work in-and later ran-a narcotics unit. While working that assignment, he grew his hair out to shoulder-length and spent his time “buying dope in the seediest parts of the city.” (Not this city.)
McIntire is also a graduate of the FBI’s law enforcement program at Quantico, Virginia. There, a grueling military-style training regimen brought him into contact with law enforcement officers from all over the world.
McIntire was at Quantico for three months taking Masters-level courses. He told of the fascination participants from Africa had with the January snowfall. He said the Africans were out in the snow, trying to make snowmen, but had no idea how.
“Some of us had to go out and show them how to roll the snow into balls because they had never seen snow before,” he said.
McIntire also worked for one and a half years in Ionia on a fugitive team and in Newaygo as a sergeant. In 2004 he was the section commander of a narcotics unit.
After spending the last two years commuting from Sparta to Lansing, he was asked if he would return to the Rockford Post as commander.
During his years in law enforcement, McIntire has had many moments of satisfaction. He said the desire to help people is the reason he joined the profession. He shared one encounter while a trooper here in Rockford that he said still warms his heart.
An older woman living on Bostwick Lake was terrified because she kept getting hang-up calls. She thought she was being stalked. McIntire said he went to her house and sat, waiting for a call, while enjoying her coffee and baked goods. It turned out the calls were telemarketers and not a threat to her life. The woman was very grateful. “For me that was one of the most satisfying. She had been truly terrified. I sat with her and explained it to her. The smile on her face was very rewarding and I enjoyed her delicious coffee cake.”
McIntire said his choice of career was right for him and could be right for many young people deciding what to do with their lives. “I’ve been in law enforcement 23 years and I would recommend it to anyone,” he said. He began his career in the Air Force, which allowed him to go to college. He spent some of those Air Force years with drug dogs in the jungles of the Philippines.
As the Rockford Post Commander McIntire works with 24 troopers, five sergeants, one detective sergeant, three motor carrier officers, a post chaplain, among others. The post is responsible for registering sex offenders and one officer works that full time, investigating as many as ten tips a day of sex offenders possibly not living where they registered.
There is also a dog handler with his German Shepherd, Diesel, and SWAT team members. Michigan State Police officers are also able to take assignments outside their post, such as working on a narcotics or fugitive team.
As post commander, McIntire is not yet out of options for promotion with the Michigan State Police. The paramilitary organization is quite complex. In addition to the field services bureau there is also a state services bureau which houses such units as the bomb squad and the forensics lab, and an administrative bureau which takes care of administrative duties and the training academy.
Over McIntire is a district commander and an assistant district commander who supervise the post commanders. Above the district commanders is a major in charge of all district commanders with the Director of the Michigan State Police over all.
McIntire said in 2000 the Rockford Post became one of three in the state that changed from full service to primarily traffic. Prior to that point the office also did criminal investigations, but now leave those duties to other law enforcement, such as city police and Kent County Sheriff’s Department.
“We moved to where we were most needed,” McIntire said. “There is more than enough work for everybody.”
He said his philosophy as post commander is to take advantage of the experience of his sergeants to allow him to interact more with the community and with Michigan Department of Transportation on safety. Working with that organization he can see where traffic volumes and speed is highest in Kent County and assign troopers accordingly. He said people driving unsafely are a serious threat to MDOT construction worker safety as well as the safety of troopers.
“In the past ten years the troopers who died, died on the side of the road from people hitting them. Only one died from being shot,” he stated.
McIntire also said a focus on education and community involvement is a priority for him, along with most agencies in the law enforcement field.
“We were missing that for so long. The mind set used to be on enforcement, enforcement, enforcement and throw them to the justice system,” he said. “Now education is the key, and it’s not just kids, it’s the adults raising the kids.”
McIntire recommends law enforcement and the Michigan State Police in particular as a career. The training academy in Lansing offers a 20-week program that McIntire says is more difficult than the Marine Corps boot camps. “It’s intense, not just physically but academically.”
“It’s academics plus the in-your-face philosophy of breaking you down and building you back up. Plus, you are living there. There is no getting done at 5 p.m. and going out. It’s Sunday through Friday with a day and a half to see your family.” When McIntire was in the academy he had a wife at home with a baby. Still, he believes it was worth it.
“It’s been a great career for me. I’ve been able to do a lot of different things. Especially with joining the Air Force first. To me there is nothing more patriotic than serving your country in the military.”