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Photo by Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor                                                                                                                                                                          MAP Executive Board Vice President Mike Kunath (left of Heins Field sign) was one of the speakers at MAP Labor Relations Specialist Rich Heins' memorial service at Heins Field in Sterling Heights May 6, 2019.


By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Several area police departments were represented by their Officers and K9s during a May 6 memorial service honoring Sterling Heights Police K9 Officer Rich Heins, who passed away after developing serious infections.

Heins began working full-time as a MAP Labor Relations Specialist after vacating his longtime MAP Executive Board President seat due to his March retirement from Sterling Heights PD. He died April 28, 2019 at the age of 54, following six weeks in intensive care at Henry Ford Hospital.

Over 300 memorial attendees passed underneath a large American flag poised atop fire truck ladders at the entrance to Heins Field inside Baumgartner Park in Sterling Heights, where the service was held. The field was named in Heins' honor in late 2018 for his many years training K9s there. During his nearly 30-year career with Sterling Heights, Heins helped start the K9 program, becoming a handler in 1996 and K9 Trainer in 1998.

Rich Heins

Honor Guard members presented his family with a large wreath, folded flag and performed a 21-gun salute. Speakers included family, friends and co-workers like MAP Executive Board Vice President Mike Kunath. Kunath took over Heins position as Sterling Heights Police Officers Association President, a position Heins held for 23 years.

MAP Executive Director Fred Timpner spoke about Heins’ numerous fine qualities as a parent, a Police Officer and as a Union Representative at the luncheon that followed. “He was respected by all on both sides of the bargaining table,” Timpner said.

Heins leaves behind two sons, Josh, 25, a Marine Corps Sergeant currently assigned to Paris Island, South Carolina and Jacob, 23, a student in the accelerated nursing program at Madonna University, completing his post-graduate studies.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are being accepted for the Richard C. Heins Memorial K9 Fund, 1433 Lochridge, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 48302 or by going to any branch of PNC Bank and asking to make a deposit to the Richard C. Heins Memorial K9 Fund. Funds will be used for Sterling Heights K9 Unit training needs and care of K9s on the force or retired. For more information, call the city of Sterling Heights at (586) 446-2489.

By Fred Timpner, MAP Executive Director

The anti-union sentiment spreading across this nation seemed to take hold in the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently ruled workers can decide if they want to pay dues in a unionized workforce in the fredJanus vs. AFSCME case. Yet “free riders” enjoy better working conditions, hours, wages and benefits thanks to the same union they refuse to support.

Unions exist to protect employees’ rights to fair working conditions, reasonable hours and wages. When MAP, MAPE and MAFF members band together to advance their concerns with Employers through collective bargaining, positive changes occur. In fact, unions have been so successful at the bargaining table that some Employers are working hard to weaken them.

The “right-to-work” campaign focused on individuals rights to choose whether to pay dues. When it was implemented in Michigan, proponents wanted workers to believe they were benefitting by having a few extra dollars in their pockets. But free riders not only cost the union money, they cost themselves money in the long run. When you refuse to support the union representing you and your co-workers, it takes away needed funds to protect worker rights, benefits, and jobs.

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Michigan Association of Police (MAP) suffered a tremendous loss April 28 with the passing of former longtime MAP Executive Board President Rich Heins, who just began working as a MAP Labor Relations Specialist.

Heins had just retired from Sterling Heights Police Department in March when serious infections set in following multiple foot and ankle surgeries. After six weeks in intensive care at Henry Ford Hospital, he succumbed to the infections at the age of 54 surrounded by his loved ones.

Rich Heins

“He was a very fine professional Police Officer who was unselfish of his time and talents and he would help with whatever he could to improve the lives of law enforcement officers and their families,” said MAP Executive Director Fred Timpner.

Heins broke his left foot and ankle during a K-9 training exercise in September 2017. He took a year off police work and went through many surgeries. Heins returned to light duty for a short time in 2018, but doctors recommended yet another surgery in early 2019. Suffering with pain and swelling, he decided to retire from police work.

Heins suddenly fell ill in mid-March and was admitted to the hospital. As his health deteriorated, doctors put him into a medically-induced coma. Sadly, he never regained consciousness.

“The nurses were so nice to him in intensive care. To cheer him up they would show him pictures of his dogs,” Timpner said. “But Chase (Heins recently retired K9) has been really missing him. He actually moves furniture around the house.”

So, when doctors realized Heins would be passing soon, the nurses wanted Chase by his side. “Henry Ford Hospital staff put a call out to the family to bring the dog down,” Timpner said. “Unfortunately, Sterling Heights Police sent a K9 Officer to pick Chase up, but before they could get down there he passed away. But I thought, ‘What a class move.’”

By Jennifer Gomori, MAP Editor

Rich Heins has spent his career helping fellow law enforcement officers, from serving as President of his local Union board to Executive Board President of MAP. So, when a duty injury pushed him into retirement, Heins decided to put his skills to work as a full-time MAP Labor Relations Specialist.

Over a year ago Heins, a Sterling Heights Police K-9 Officer and K-9 trainer, was injured during a K9 training exercise. “It was a certification trial,” Heins said. “I set my dog loose for apprehension, ran after him and stepped in a hole and broke my left foot and ankle.”

Labor Relations Specialist Rich Heins

The injury was so severe, the 53-year-old had to take a year off police work while he went through several surgeries and physical therapy. He came back on light duty to train more K9s for 16 weeks in 2018 before doctors recommended he undergo another surgery in early 2019. Heins decided to retire from police work in mid-March and began working as a Labor Relations Specialist.

Heins helped start the Sterling Heights K9 program and his love of dogs and helping other officers led him to become a trainer. “In 1995, I had the first dog, Rolf. There was a Lieutenant at the time that wrote the proposal. I helped him write it and City Council accepted and we got a dog,” Heins said. “I always loved dogs. When I was in college, I had a frat house Great Dane and had dogs my whole life. It was an epiphany, something I always wanted to do.”

Heins worked with two other police K9s during his career – Morgan and then Chase. Chase was retired in November 2018 after serving the department 10 years and currently lives with Heins. Heins thanked Sterling Heights City Councilwoman Deanna Koski for helping make the Police Department’s K-9 program possible nearly 25 years ago. “I believe my career went the way it went because of Councilwoman Koski and being able to establish this K-9 unit,” he said in a C&G Newspaper article.