Viewpoint: Prescott police, city value honesty and integrity
By Mike R. Bondarenko, former Prescott Police Chief
I can no longer remain silent about the allegations against the Prescott Police Department. I must speak out.
I served as chief of police from 2006 to 2014. I had the honor of succeeding Chief Scott Brownell, who is one of the finest and most dedicated law enforcement officers I have ever known, for nearly eight years. I then had the honor of turning the department over to my friend, the late Chief Gary Krutke. Sadly, I was unable to attend his memorial service because I was out of state, but I mourn his loss to this day. Few days go by that I don't think about him. I miss him very much.
My tenure as police chief in Prescott was the highlight of my 38-year law enforcement career. I absolutely love the city, the people, the mayor and council and the men and women of the police department. It was only because I reached the age of 62 in 2014 that I believed my retirement was in the best interests of the city.
Lately, allegations of impropriety against the police department, particularly against Interim Chief Robert Funk and Sgts. Mark Schultz, Eric Michaels and Jesse Neely, on a number of issues have appeared in the local media. I know each of these fine law enforcement officers personally and can vouch for their honesty and integrity.
I worked with Funk for nearly eight years. He worked for me as a patrol officer and then as a detective. I promoted him to detective sergeant. He is an absolutely outstanding law enforcement officer and one of the most ethical and honest officers I ever had the pleasure to work with. Funk would never do anything that was not in the best interests of the city and the police department. You can rely on him. I guarantee it.
I hired Sgts. Schultz, Michaels and Neely as patrol officers and then made Schultz and Michaels patrol sergeants. I saw great potential in each of them. They are outstanding law enforcement officers. I am gratified that former Chief Krutke chose to promote Neely. I would have done so had I still been chief. You can rely on them. I guarantee it.
It would appear from recent events that there were human resources issues inside the police department. While I commend the local media for bringing these issues to public attention, which serves a great public service, it also appears to me that these issues have now been resolved. It is pointless to continue to dwell on them. It's time to move on and rebuild the police department, a process that seems well underway.
Mayor Dave Hovel, City Administrator Jayne Brand, the Police Commission and the men and women of the police department have always had the best interests of the city at heart. They deserve your respect and support. I guarantee they are doing the best job they an under very difficult circumstances. I can only imagine how difficult it is to replace the police chief and three full-time employees all at the same time.
Therefore, I hereby humbly offer my expertise to assist the city with the selection of the next full-time chief of police in any way I can. I owe it to you, Prescott, for the confidence and support you affrded to me for nearly eight years. Thank you for letting me serve you.