Steil's family immigrated to Canada from Germany when he was eight years old. Starting a new life in a new country meant the family could not bring many items, including Steil's bicycle. And, they did not have the means to buy a new one.
He began to collect bottles and saved every penny he could. Finally, after two years, Steil was able to buy a brand-new bike. That very same summer, the unthinkable happened. The bike was stolen.
Steil's mom took him to police headquarters, and a nice police officer helped him look through the lost and found with no luck.
"I remember going downstairs, accompanied by a police officer who was so kind and so considerate to me," remembers Steil. "He helped me look through all the bikes to see if I could find mine. He left such a huge impression upon me as a 10-year-old boy. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the bike, but at that point, the fuse was lit. It was shortly after that that I decided when I grow up, I want to be a police officer."
Steil was part of Recruit Class 66 and became an EPS member on October 5, 1981. Since then, he has had a very successful career in Downtown Division, Traffic Flow Detail, Collision Investigations, and Communications Branch. He was also part of a nine-month UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone in 2003.
Now Const. Steil is based at Southwest Division in Pawn Detail. His specialty is reuniting people with their lost or stolen items. And, he's exceptional at it.
"He always finds the owner just through his sheer determination," says Inspector Shane Perka. "The number of pictures and emails that I've seen of him reuniting a person with their bike is amazing. The people's lives that have been changed because he's been able to retrieve their property is outstanding."
Steil's impressive police work has returned a stolen bike to its owner with even the most minuscule amount of details—like a single digit of a serial number.
Steil will also check the bikes for quality assurance before handing them back to their owners—usually with a quick whip around the parking lot. It's because of that regular visual of Steil on a bicycle that the team at Southwest gifted him an EPS-issued bike helmet and bell as part of his service celebration.
"When I look back, especially the last 10 years, it has just flown right by. Did I ever have designs on working 40 years? Never planned for it," says Const. Steil. "In my life as a police officer, I've experienced a lot of things. What I've found is that it's the people that you work with that make the difference in your career and your daily life at work."
During the celebration, Steil spoke directly with solid words of encouragement to a group of patrol members as they readied for their shift out on the streets of Edmonton.
"Times are tough. I'm going to encourage you through these times because you guys are the front line. We... the rest of us, we're behind the scenes. When someone needs help, you're jumping into the frame. I'm going to encourage you to stand tall and stand strong. Lean on each other and give the citizens of Edmonton your very best every day. You never know when you meet someone how you're going to impact them. That person may become a police officer or a firefighter or someone else. Our roles are not small roles. We impact people's lives every day. Be safe out there."
Thank you for all that you do for the people of Edmonton, Const. Steil. Congratulations!