With the respectful ceremony of honoring former Chief Gary Krutke concluded, the Police Department of the City of Prescott, will begin a new chapter in their service to the people of that city. In the months prior to his passing, several events took place that may shape how that new chapter will be written and by whose hand.
On June 21st, the personnel committee of the council, chaired by Maureen Otwell and including Joshua Gergen and Darla Hintz, met in closed session to determine sick leave terms for Chief Krutke. According to Robert Funk, the Chief named Funk as Officer in Charge to direct day to day issues as needed in his absence. On July 31st , preceding the death of Chief Krutke,another closed door meeting of the city’s personnel committee, determined that action would be taken to grant power in hiring and firing of city employees by then Officer in Charge, Robert Funk. On August 2nd, longtime administrative assistant Erin Most was fired. Chief Krutke passed away on August 5th. On the 7th, the Prescott Police commission convened for the first time in 2017. Although the city website lists the policy of the commission as open to the public, another discussion was held in closed session, the 5 members of that appointed citizen commission voting unannimously to name Robert Funk as Acting Chief , including the provision of unfettered control of personnel in the police department, including all hiring and firing decisions. According to the minutes submitted by City Administrator Jayne Brand, in both meetings, a four person contingent from the Prescott Police department also attended the procedings. They included Funk, Sergeant Jesse Neely, Mark Schultz and Eric Michaels, one of which represents the Wisconsin Professional Police Asssociation Union as a steward. In a conversation with Mayor Dave Hovel on August 15th, KDWA was told that the Police commission is designed as an autonomous governing body,a statement which is echoed on the city’s website. KDWA attended the 36 minute meeting on August 7th, waiting outside the council chambers until the public was allowed to enter, and asked now Interim Chief Funk to comment on the decision announced by the Police commission.
I then asked about disciplinary actions referrenced in the agenda.
Within 24 hours of that meeting, 2 patrol officers that were hired during Chief Krutke’s administration were also fired for unspecified reasons. KDWA has made individual requests for comments from those on the personnel committee as to whether the Police Commission and the personnel committee made the decisions independently or whether a combined agreement resulted in general knowledge of the action to be approved. Those requsts have gone unanswered as of this report.
In an interview published in the August 17th edition of the Prescott Journal, Interim Chief Funk states that the department’s current state is quote contracted, which he explained will address staffing, internal duties, strategic planning for the future and growth. It is not known in what time frame those decisions will be made, whether or not a search is still planned in the selecting of a permanent Chief or who will be responsible for making those decisions.