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The Alcona County Sheriff’s Department will be under new leadership with the retirement of Sheriff Douglas Atchison, who has been in the position for 12 years.

Undersheriff Scott Stephenson was appointed to the position of sheriff by the Alcona County Election Commission on Thursday, April 18. The election commission is comprised of Probate Judge Laura Frawley, Alcona County Prosecuting Attorney Tom Weichel, and Alcona County Clerk Stephanie Eller. Stephenson will take over the position, effective upon the retirement of Sheriff Douglas Atchison, on May 1.

“Although we are sad to see Sheriff Atchison leave, we have a great amount of confidence that undersheriff Stevenson will carry on the fine traditions of the office of the Alcona County Sheriff with the utmost integrity and respect,” Frawley said.

Atchison was born and raised in Alcona County and graduated from Alcona High School in 1979. He has been employed by the Alcona County Sheriff’s Department for 36 years. Atchison began his career in law enforcement upon his graduation from the Macomb Police Academy in 1981 and worked for the City of Harrisville Police Department until 1983 when the department disbanded.

Then Sheriff Ed Schroeder hired Atchison as a deputy in the spring of 1983 and he worked road patrol until he was appointed undersheriff in 1993. He was appointed as sheriff in 2007.

“Law enforcement is an ever-changing playing field and it requires a periodic change in leadership to maintain the best quality service to the public,” said Sheriff Douglas Atchison.

“Sheriff Stephenson will provide an outstanding level of commitment and dedication to the people of Alcona County. He brings with him an ease to approach personality and puts forth a professional level of leadership. I am proud to have Sheriff Stephenson take over as sheriff of Alcona County.”

Stephenson, who lives in Barton City with his family, was born in Alcona County and raised in the Tawas area. He graduated from Tawas High School in 1992. He has been an employee of the sheriff’s department since fall of 1997 when he was hired to work part-time as a corrections officer in the county jail. He came to the position following graduation from Michigan State University with a degree in park recreation and tourism management with an emphasis on nonprofit management and law enforcement.

He moved into a full-time position in corrections in the spring of 1998 and worked in that capacity until January 2001 when he entered the Kirtland Regional Police Academy. He graduated three months later and was hired as a deputy for the Alcona County Sheriff’s Department. He was appointed to sergeant in August 2002 and 16 years later, he was appointed to the position of undersheriff in July 2018.

Stephenson will take over as Alcona County Sheriff after he is sworn in next Wednesday. “I am very thankful for all of the support I’ve received. My wife and family have been really cool about this along the way. They’ve been great. Doug (Atchison) has been very supportive during this entire process. The staff here have been great – deputies, sergeants, dispatchers, corrections and jail personnel – they have been very supportive. So has prosecutor Tom Weichel, commissioner Carolyn Brummund and judge Laura Frawley,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said he will make the appointment of undersheriff shortly after he becomes sheriff. “I’m not looking to change anything in the department. In my perspective things are going smoothly. We aren’t having any issues … we don’t have deaths in the jail, we don’t have use of force issues, we don’t have any law suits, we don’t have any pursuits causing property damage… This is not by accident. It’s because of good management on the part of Douglas Atchison. Not having these problems is a good thing. Not being in the news is also good,” Stephenson said.

According to Stephenson, the biggest challenge he faces is the budget. “We keep doing what we do with less and less (money). When I promote someone from the ranks to be the undersheriff to take over my position, that will leave us short two positions. It looks like I will only be able to hire one person, at this time,” Stephenson said.

He explained one area that he is going to focus on is “victim concentrated crimes” like sexual assaults, elder abuse, domestic violence and child abuse and neglect cases. “These are common cases for us, and I want to see the (deputies) improve on reports and investigations in these true victim associated crimes. Improvement in these areas will help secure prosecution.

“This isn’t glamorous police work… we have a lot of these cases that don’t make the news because of their nature. When someone breaks into a home or cottage – that makes the news and people are up in arms about it. The true victim crimes are difficult (to handle) but, there is a lot of training available,” Stephenson said.