In eight years, Prescott's new Chief of Police Eric Michaels advanced from working as a part-time patrol officer to holding the department's highest position.

It's a fast-paced ascent for the Iowa native who never imagined becoming a chief of police this early in his career. On Dec. 14, Michaels was announced as new chief of police, beating out five other out-of-state interviewed finalists and bringing to a close a more than year-long search by the city's police commission to find a new leader for its 12 other department members.

"Let's be honest, how many eight-year officers become chief?" Michaels said. "It just shows that if you work hard you can pretty much do whatever you want."

There will be little dramatic change for the department, he said. Many of the department's shifts have been ongoing since an external department review was done in April.

That review found outdated policies, no governing document and a need for a clear job description for the chief, among others. Current interim police chief Doug Ducklow has been working to improve on those points since he started in August.

"I just want to keep this going in the direction it's going," Michaels said. "That assessment set the basis for what Doug and I have started laying a foundation for."

The department is planning on hiring three new employees within the next month to round out the staff, and Michaels said they have already found the employees, pending final approval.

Ensuring training is a priority for the new hires and existing officers is one of his goals, he said.

Ducklow's interim term ends next month, giving Michaels time for his own training in leadership and other classes catered around his new role, he said.

In a press release announcing the hiring, Ducklow said Michaels "embraces the philosophy of community policing."

"Chief Michaels is an experienced police officer and probably most important, he knows the Prescott community and is a member of the community," he continued in the release.

Michaels' hiring brings to a close a search by the city to find a new police chief that started after former chief Gary Krutke died in 2017. It was the second hiring push by the city after an initial hiring process failed to bring a new chief.

The city's police commission interviewed six candidates out of roughly 40 total applicants, and City Administrator Jayne Brand previously said that only one interviewed candidate, Michaels, was internal, of the six.

The city had moved to a single finalist on Dec. 10 and four days later announced Michaels' hiring.

An outstanding Herald public records request for the names of the chief of police finalists has yet to be fulfilled by the city.