In Memoriam: Honoring the Career of Mike Bischoff
Joy was a consistent theme in a 2011 Kentucky Law Enforcement magazine interview with then-Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Mike Bischoff. He talked extensively about the joy he felt helping Kentucky law enforcement when they had a problem and didn’t know where else to turn.
His comprehensive law enforcement knowledge and willingness to mentor others is what Bischoff was best known for across Kentucky. After 43 years of service to his community and the commonwealth’s law enforcement, Bischoff passed away on Oct. 17, 2017. He was 68.
Bischoff began his law enforcement career in 1970 with the Fort Thomas Police Department. He rose through the ranks and eventually became chief.
“I knew the day I became a patrolman that I wanted to be chief,” Bischoff told then-writer Abbie Darst in the 2011 interview. “I was one of those goofy kids who said, ‘I’m going to be chief one day,’ and it stuck.”
In 1995, Bischoff began working with KACP’s accreditation program. After his retirement from Fort Thomas in 1998, Bischoff was hired as KACP’s accreditation manager.
“Professionally, Mike’s impact on professionalizing law enforcement in general was significant,” said Shawn Butler, KACP’s current accreditation manager. “Mike had so much to give, especially in the law enforcement profession. As far as accreditation, it was truly his baby in the best way. He was a very patient man, very giving and took his time with people. It was neat to watch him work with departments. He was so passionate about the program; he gave it everything.”
Bischoff could tell a story about the transformation within every police department he helped to reach accreditation, he told Darst. During his time as KACP executive director, he worked diligently to assist agencies with the accreditation process and often answered questions about legislative issues, policies, procedures and testing materials.
“He had a ton of knowledge, experience and contacts with policies and could answer questions about best practices,” said Tom Szurlinski, who worked with Bischoff when he was Florence Police chief. “He was the guy who you could pick up the phone and say, ‘OK, Chief, what about this?’ He really paid attention to things, not just here in northern Kentucky, but statewide and even nationwide.
“He really cared about law enforcement and the people in law enforcement,” Szurlinski continued. “And he showed it – that was genuinely true in his heart.”
Bischoff believed, as KACP executive director, that he wasn’t “doing a decent job unless [officers could] get a hold of [him],” he told Darst.
“I’ve had people call and ask what the noise was in the background,” Bischoff said during the interview. “I tell them, ‘It’s the ocean, I’m walking on the beach.’ They say, ‘I’ll call you back.’ Well, no, I tell them to ask me now because it doesn’t help them if they have to wait a week. And it does not bother me.”
Department of Criminal Justice Training Commissioner Mark Filburn fondly remembered Bischoff as one of the most professional, hardworking, honest and straight-forward individuals he has worked with in his Kentucky law enforcement career.
“He had one of the most impactful careers in terms of what he did for the accreditation program and raising Kentucky law enforcement’s standards,” Filburn said. “He was always striving to make Kentucky the best in the country.”
Fort Wright Police Chief Marc Schworer agreed, noting that in a previous role as Fort Wright’s accreditation manager, Bischoff was a patient and knowledgeable adviser. Through his mentorship, Schworer said Bischoff told him something he never forgot.
“He said, ‘Most accreditation managers will become chiefs someday,’” Schworer recalled. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ and he told me, ‘You will know what it is to worry about liability and how important policies are.’ I had never really looked that deep. He taught me that.”
Bischoff served for more than 20 years as a certified polygraphist and, in 2011, estimated he had administered 3,500 examinations. He received the 2008 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Kentucky Law Enforcement. Bischoff was instrumental in establishing the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, and ACREDNET, a national organization of law enforcement accreditors. Additionally, Bischoff traveled nationally and helped other states establish their own accreditation programs.
Noted widely as having an unparalleled depth of knowledge about law enforcement, Bischoff never stopped learning. He attended Thomas More College, where he earned an associate degree in law enforcement and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He further pursued a master’s degree in polygraph science from New York State University. He graduated with honors from the FBI National Academy.
Throughout his 43-year career, Bischoff amassed an estimated 4,500 hours of training and education.
Butler said Bischoff’s wife, Jackie, indicated her husband’s wishes were that “no fuss” be made following his passing. Instead, he asked that any memorials go to the KACP Foundation in his name.
“I really respected him,” Filburn said. “He was a good man, a gentleman and just a pleasure to work with. He will truly be missed on a personal and professional level.”