Nearly all of his life, Steve Higgins has called the High Desert his home.
Although he was born in San Bernardino, he moved with his family to Hesperia in 1971, when it was a small town with about 5,000 people. Since that time, he's resided in several different High Desert communities, including Apple Valley, Victorville and Phelan.
Higgins spent his youth growing up in Hesperia and attended Juniper Elementary and Joshua Circle Elementary School, as well as Hesperia Junior High. Since Hesperia didn't have a high school back then, he rode the bus from the Mesa to Victor Valley High School, where he graduated in 1982.
After high school, he attended and eventually graduated from Victor Valley Junior College with an associate's degree in administration of justice. He continued his studies at California State University, San Bernardino and, after a few stops and starts, graduated with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
In 1986, Higgins was hired by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and, as they say, the rest is history.
"It truly was my calling," Higgins said. "I found out fairly quickly the many challenges and rewards associated with this important profession."
After graduating from the sheriff's basic academy, he was assigned to the county jail. A couple of years later, he was reassigned to patrol in the town of Apple Valley.
Higgins has worked for the sheriff's department for 25 years now. During this time, he said he's had the opportunity to work a wide variety of assignments including patrol operations, corrections, K-9, SWAT, narcotics, training academy, homicide, dispatch and the bureau of administration. He is now the chief of police at the Hesperia station.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: The best thing about my current job as chief of police for the city of Hesperia is the opportunity to affect positive change within the organization, as well as implement various crime prevention/reduction strategies in the same community where I spent my early years growing up.
Being assigned to Hesperia has, in many ways, been a homecoming for me and I enjoy the challenges associated with improving public safety. I also enjoy occasionally running into people I grew up with as they continue to live and work in this wonderful community.
Q: Who is someone that had a big influence on your life?
A: First and foremost, I would have to say my father, Howard Higgins, had the single biggest impact on my life. He instilled in me at a very young age the value of developing a strong work ethic and always placing family first, as well as the importance of taking personal responsibility for your actions and being held accountable.
My father worked for the San Bernardino County Probation Department for over 30 years and his devotion to public service inspired me to continue a rich family history, going back three generations of Higgins' who took the oath and swore to protect and serve the citizens of this great nation.
Although my dad passed away a few years ago, during his last few hours of life, he taught me — with quiet resolve and an unshakable faith in God — lessons about personal courage, devotion, and the ability selfless love has to help bear the weight of insurmountable grief and sadness.
Another person who had a dramatic influence on my life was my Victor Valley High School tennis coach, John Dudley. Mr. Dudley ("Coach") certainly taught me the physical skills of how to play competitive tennis. However, more importantly, he also taught me and all of the kids who were lucky enough to play for him important life lessons about tenacity, dedication, perseverance, working hard and never, ever giving up.
I can never thank Coach Dudley — may he rest in peace — enough for the lessons he taught me, or the time he spent helping young people find their way toward happy, successful lives. I will always be grateful for his nurturing guidance and wisdom.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: My favorite quote is one from Theodore Roosevelt when he was New York City Police Commissioner in 1910. In my view, this quote speaks volumes about the law enforcement profession and the importance of always trying your hardest, never giving up and not letting the fear of failure stop you from trying.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Q: Describe a special memory you have of Hesperia.
A: I remember the old Village Market, which was the only food store in Hesperia, before the Stater Bros. finally came to town. I also remember, prior to the overpasses being built, having to wait for trains to pass by before crossing the tracks on Main Street and Bear Valley Road. I think there was only one stop light in town back then and life — and traffic — just seemed to move a little bit slower. Although traffic on Main Street today can move pretty darn slow! Thank goodness for the Ranchero Underpass Project — thanks to all of the city staff who have worked so tirelessly all of these years to make this vision a reality.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say?
A: I would like the citizens of Hesperia to know that their Police Department is committed to always looking for new and innovative ways to improve public safety and increase the quality of life for all of those in the High Desert who call Hesperia home. It takes a cooperative effort between law enforcement and the public to accomplish such important goals. The members of the Hesperia Police Department are dedicated to developing these important partnerships because, in the end, we are all one community and in it together.
Who would you like to see profiled in an upcoming Q&A? Drop us a line at Editor@HesperiaStar.com.