Lucking To Remain As Interim Police Chief While Unalaska Continues Search For Permanent Hire

Aug 9, 2019

John Lucking was hired on a six-month interim contract set to expire at the end of August. He's agreed to stay on longer while the city recruits a permanent police chief.
Credit Zoë Sobel / KUCB

The City of Unalaska is relaunching its search for a permanent police chief.

City Manager Erin Reinders said officials have decided against offering the job to a candidate who came for an in-person interview last month. The man was never named publicly, but Reinders said he wasn't the right fit.

"The individual we had out really was great, and by no means is this any criticism regarding him," she said. "But we're really kind of focusing on the unique needs of our community and the [city] organization right now."

Unalaska has been without a full-time police chief since the retirement of Mike Holman in January of 2018. Jennifer Shockley served as acting chief for about a year before resigning, which prompted the city to bring back former chief John Lucking on a temporary contract.

That contract is set to expire at the end of August, but Reinders said Lucking is willing to stay on longer while the city continues its search.

"He's definitely committed to the organization, the department, and the community to make sure we have the right person in the right spot at the right time," she said.

Beyond helping with recruitment, Lucking said he wants to stay in his interim post while the department continues investigating a fatal car crash on Mount Ballyhoo.

Police are still working with state authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine why a truck plunged off the mountain in May, killing two local high school students. Lucking said he knows the community wants answers.

"I think we're close," he said. "We're waiting on some outside agency information and reports to come back."

Meanwhile, the city is also restarting its search for a full-time finance director. The department has been led by Interim Director Jim Sharpe since Clay Darnell's resignation in March.

Reinders said city leaders are reviewing their recruiting strategies with plans to repost that job opening — and the police chief's — sometime soon.