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An officer to remember: Prescott Police spokesman, lead officer retiring after 30 years of service

Prescott Police Officer David Fuller will retire May 2 after 30 years with the department.  (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Prescott Police Officer David Fuller will retire May 2 after 30 years with the department. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

On May 1, Prescott Police Department will be losing one of its finest. After 30 years of service, Lead Police Officer Dave Fuller is retiring.

“It’s just time to go,” Fuller, 52, said. “Thirty years is a long time in this profession.”

Except for a few years in Texas as a child, Fuller has spent his life in Arizona. The 6-foot-3 son of a police officer went to high school in Phoenix, played football at Phoenix College and briefly attended Northern Arizona University before dropping out to begin his law enforcement career with the Phoenix Police Department in 1987.

His stay with the valley agency only lasted about a year, at which point he transferred to the much smaller, much more rural Prescott Police Department.

“When I first got here, there was either four or five red lights in town,” Fuller said.

For him — as is for many who come to the area — the primary attraction was the ample opportunity for outdoor recreation.

“I love to hunt and fish,” he said.

Like everybody else, he started out as a patrol officer and gradually worked his way up the ranks. Some of his roles over the years have included being a field training officer, serving on PPD’s SWAT team, being a school resource officer at Prescott High School and riding the streets of downtown Prescott as a mountain bike officer.

For the last couple of years, his responsibilities have been a mashup of training and recruitment, public relations and social outreach.

As the primary spokesman for the department, his words are representative of the agency.

“Everything I do has Chief Black’s name on it,” he said.

AN INCIDENT HE WON’T FORGET

Though he’s never had to shoot anyone, Fuller vividly remembers being shot at during a domestic violence situation in 2001.

“We had a horrible night for the Prescott Police Department,” Fuller said.

His patrol unit was the first on the scene and found a frantic woman saying she wanted to get her baby out of a second-story apartment, but her husband wasn’t letting her.

Fuller was the first to enter the residence and saw the baby in a crib in the middle of the living room floor. He called out to the husband, who responded, but stood at a distance, only showing half his body from behind a wall.

“I’m talking to him, trying to get him to come out,” Fuller said, noting that no crime had yet been committed, so he was just trying to resolve the situation peacefully.

Then he heard the woman — who could see her husband more clearly from where she was standing — say “oh my God, no, don’t,” Fuller recalls.

“And then the wall just explodes with gun fire,” he said.

The man had a semi-automatic weapon and was shooting through the wall at Fuller and his unit.

“I immediately scream, ‘get the baby,’ and I start to back up,” Fuller said.

He ended up taking cover in a hallway with one of his fellow officers while the remaining two officers got the woman and baby out of the apartment.

Thinking the gunfight was over, one of the officers who had gone outside went back into the apartment and ended up getting shot several times by the gunman, Fuller said. The other outside officer was then shot as well while helping the wounded officer crawl out of the apartment, Fuller said. Both ultimately got to safety and survived the attack.

But Fuller and the officer he had taken cover with were still barricaded in a hallway and had to move to a back room when more gunfire came through the hallway wall.

Unable to see or engage the suspect, the two of them stayed tucked in the room for about three hours, Fuller said. They were eventually able to jump out of a two-story window after assisting police threw diversionary devices into the apartment.

The gunman was later found dead in the apartment from self-inflicted wounds.

“That’s clearly the most traumatic thing that I’ve gone through in my career,” Fuller said.

Events like this and his responses to them have resulted in Fuller receiving a medal of valor and three life-saving awards throughout his career.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.

‘HUGE LOSS FOR THE DEPARTMENT’

Reflecting on Fuller’s service, PPD Deputy Chief Amy Bonney said Fuller has truly helped shape the department into what it is today.

“David was one of our best and longest-serving field training officers,” Bonney said. “He used his experience to teach a lot of people that policing is not black and white. It’s about people and doing the right thing even if it’s maybe not written down in the policy book.”

As one of the people he trained and worked closely with for many years, she said it also is difficult to comprehend no longer having her longtime mentor and friend in the office.

“It’s going to be a huge loss for our department,” Bonney said.

Moving forward, Fuller isn’t entirely sure yet what the future holds for him, except that he has plenty of family to spend time with.

“Family is hugely important to me,” he said. “I’m just going to jump into retirement with both feet, and then if it’s time-appropriate to go do something else, then I’ll go do that.”

Follow Max Efrein on Twitter @mefrein, email him at mefrein@prescottaz.com or call him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1105.

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