Ever wonder what a want ad would look like for a police chief? Pretty dull, judging by the ad posted over the weekend by Fairfax County for its police chief position. The pay is not bad — $113,046 to $171,973 — and the benefits are good, but it’s understood that the hours are lousy and lots of people will complain at you from all sides at all times.
So Fairfax, with the largest police department in Virginia, has finally begun its search for a new police chief, six months after former Chief David Rohrer announced he was moving over to the county executive’s office. The county waited until its search for a new fire chief was completed. The first acting police chief, Lt. Col. Jim Morris, has already removed himself from the competition by taking the vacant Vienna job. The new acting chief and early frontrunner is now Lt. Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., a New Yorker who has been on the Fairfax department for 24 years. As deputy chief he has been overseeing both patrol and strategic planning, and his resume includes stops in budgeting, internal affairs, the police academy as well as station commander and creator of a number of employee support programs.
In addition to the online posting of the vacancy, the ad will be placed in various police trade websites. The application deadline is May 3, but you must have spent ten years as a lieutenant or above at a department comparable in size to Fairfax, which with more than 1,350 sworn officers is about the 30th largest department in the U.S. A panel of government officials and civilians will narrow the applicants and interview the finalists, county spokeswoman Merni Fitzgerald said, then make a recommendation to the county board of supervisors, who have the final say.
Fairfax has never hired an outsider in its 72-year history. Lt. Col. Tom Ryan is the other deputy chief, and Majors Erin Schaible, Sharon Smith and Cindy McAlister might be candidates to be the county’s first woman chief. But former top Fairfax commanders such as Steve Sellers, now chief of Albemarle County, and Frank Kitzerow, now chief in Jupiter, Fla., could also be contenders.