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Top 10: Prescott hires a new chief after a long search

Prescott Police Chief Eric Michaels chats with fellow officers after being sworn in on Dec. 18. David Clarey / RiverTown Multimedia

Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.

When Prescott named its new police chief in December, it ended a search that had spanned more than a year and took place across two different hiring pushes.

On Dec. 18, the city swore in then-Sgt. Eric Michaels, an eight-year veteran of the department, to be its chief of police. Michaels' hiring came through the city's second search for a new chief, with the first failing to bring a new chief from a small group of applicants.

Michaels did not apply during the first search. He was one of roughly 40 candidates who applied in the second search and one of six interviewed for the position.

"I just want to keep this going in the direction it's going in," Michaels said to the Herald in a previous interview.

Michaels replaced former police chief Gary Krutke, who died in 2017. After his death the department brought on department officer Rob Funk as interim chief in August 2017, but took him off the role and elevated Michaels for a short time to interim chief in June 2018.

Pierce County Sheriff's Office Investigator Doug Ducklow served as office chief starting in August on a contract basis, ending next month.

An initial hiring search for the permanent police chief included Funk, but no applicant was selected for the position after the search brought in only about 12 candidates. In response to the low applicant interest, the city council increased the chief's pay and upgraded some of the department's administrative systems, said Police Commission member Bill Pryor in a previous interview to the Herald.

"With the initial round [of candidates] we really didn't get that many. The ones we got really weren't that qualified," he said.

While for Prescott's police commission Michaels' hiring brought to a close what had become a lengthy search, it marked an unexpected and fast ascent for Michaels.

"Let's be honest, how many eight-year officers become chief?" Michaels previously said to the Herald.

Michaels said he plans little dramatic change for the department, and instead wants to continue with the changes Ducklow has implemented.

Ducklow has directed the city's department through a variety of recommended changes that stem from an April department review.

Michaels will take several training classes for his new position soon, and said the department has plans in place to hire several new officers to fill vacant positions.

"Chief Michaels is an experienced police officer and probably most important, he knows the Prescott community and is a member of the community," Ducklow wrote in a press release announcing Michaels' hiring.