HELENA, Mont. -- Helena Police Chief Steve Hagen is stepping down, marking the third time in as many years the Capitol City will be looking for a new chief. However, he is not alone.

Ironically, Helena Fire Chief Ken Wood also announced his retirement late last week, saying he wants to spend more time his family. Both men say the timing is coincidental, with Hagen saying he planned to step down once he reached 30 years of service with the department.

Chief Wood’s last day will be Sept. 30, while Hagen is stepping down effective on Nov. 5, and the City of Helena is preparing to find their replacements.

Hagen was originally named the interim chief back in 2019 after Chief Troy McGee retired from the force, and it now leaves the city in a position of finding a third police chief in as many years.

City Manager Rachel Harlow-Schalk told the Mayor and City Commissioners she will work with Hagen on the transition plan and share the recruitment strategy for the position, as it gets closer to opening up this fall.

"We are sad to see Steve retire and at the same time, excited for him to enjoy the next chapter of his life,” Harlow-Schalk wrote in an email. “For now, Chief Hagen has shared he is focused on the work of today and transitioning his team from a solid footing."

Ironically, both Wood and Hagen also became interim chiefs for their respective departments around the same time, in March 2019, and both were subsequently named to the permanent positions later on.

With both positions, the city manager plans to name interim chiefs and then fill the positions through recruitment processes, but has not determined yet when the processes will open. 

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