After 26 years on the force, Anchorage's top cop on Monday said he's quitting to focus on improving a family business and, perhaps, start another job in law enforcement.
Rob Heun, police chief for three years, said he told Mayor Dan Sullivan about a month ago that he was eyeing a federal job and he planned to retire from city service.
"It's been a great experience and I have no regrets," Heun said. "There's no bad feelings about leaving."
Heun will remain in his current position until Aug. 15 while city officials develop a transition plan, according to a statement issued by Sullivan's office. Deputy chief Steve Smith will take over the responsibilities while a seven-person search committee, also announced Monday, looks for a Heun replacement.
Heun is the second major department head to leave since Sullivan took office July 1. Last week, fire chief Craig Goodrich retired after he said Sullivan told him he would be replaced. Deputy chief of operations Doug Schrage, 46, took over in an acting role this weekend. A permanent replacement has not been named.
The mayor's office said there is no timeline for finding a new police chief, but that the search committee, which includes former police chiefs Chuck Anderson and Ron Otte as well as experts in community development and business administration, will meet in about a week to come up with one.
The somewhat unusual step of forming a search committee to replace the police chief -- a committee was not named after Goodrich departed -- was taken to find the best candidate, possibly from the Lower 48, said Sarah Erkmann, spokeswoman for the mayor's office.
"The mayor also did not have anyone specific in mind for this job, as he did with the fire chief," Erkmann said. Sullivan is "casting a very wide net for this. This can be done either locally, could be filled from within, or it could come from Outside. There's literally nothing in the pipeline in terms of a person who is being looked at. So it's wide open."
Heun began walking a foot patrol along Fourth Avenue back in 1983 and worked his way up to supervise the swing shift. He was the police union president for 12 years and became deputy chief under Walt Monegan. In 2006, he took over as chief.
Now 55, Heun says he's done with APD but he's not quite ready to retire from law enforcement. He has applied to be the U.S. marshal in the Alaska district -- a position that will require President Obama to nominate him and then the Senate to confirm him. He said he won't know until fall whether he's gotten the job.
Meanwhile, the priority for the summer is working on the High Lake Lodge, a family-owned business in Talkeetna. On Saturday he's attending a class on establishing and maintaining a grass airstrip.
"I need to go up there and work that for the rest of the summer," Heun said. "That's the first thing ... to improve the airstrip up there."
Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.