By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor

Michigan Association of Fire Fighters (MAFF) suffered a tremendous loss April 28, 2019 with the passing of former longtime MAP Executive Board President Rich Heins, who just began working as a MAFF 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 MAFF 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.’”

The news of Heins' passing spread quickly as he played an integral role at MAP and Sterling Heights PD and was well-liked and respected. He was a Sterling Heights Police Officer nearly 30-years, 23 of which he was local Union President for MAP. He was voted MAP Executive Board Vice President in December 2010 and President from December 2012 to December 2018.

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank Rich for his years of involvement and years of leadership. He’s been a real joy to work with,” Timpner said at Heins’ last board meeting in December 2018. “Your dedication to this organization has been outstanding.”

Heins helped start the K9 program in Sterling Heights, serving as their first K9 Officer in 1995. He worked as Assistant K9 Trainer at Oakland Community College and Head K9 Trainer at Macomb Community College from 2008-2014. He owned and operated Skooby Do’s and Don’ts K9 Training at Heins Field in Sterling Heights, which was named in his honor in 2018 by the City of Sterling Heights. Articles about Heins and Chase appeared in The Detroit News and C &G Newspapers in November 2018.

He also served as a Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) Commissioner, representing MAP since 2016.

“It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death yesterday of Commissioner Richard Heins, who represented the Michigan Association of Police,” wrote Timothy S. Bourgeois, Executive Director of MCOLES in an email to members. “Rich had been undergoing extensive in-patient medical treatment for a serious infection and unfortunately was unable to recover.”

Heins leaves behind two sons, Josh, 25, a Marine Corps Sergeant, and Jacob, 23, who has a physical therapy bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and is in the accelerated nursing program at Madonna University.

A memorial service for Heins is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, May 6, 2019 at Heins Field inside Baumgartner Park, located at 13000 15 Mile Rd. in Sterling Heights (between Maple Lane and Schoenherr). Due to limited space, parking is strongly suggested at St. Blase Catholic Church, 12151 15 Mile Rd. (at corner of 15 Mile and Maple Lane) with a shuttle available to the park. A luncheon will follow at Warren FOP Hall, 11304 E.14 Mile Rd. (between Van Dyke and Maple Lane) in Warren.

Please note the memorial service may be moved to the Warren FOP Hall if there is inclement weather.

A memorial donation account has been set up in lieu of flowers. Donations can be sent to 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 additional information, please contact the MAFF office at (248) 509-7160.