Wanted: Chief of Police.
Life in a small town can sometimes be difficult, especially when your town is less than three years old and is adjacent to two other government jurisdictions.
Thus, when Wilda Feurgeson, city manager of Manassas Park, Va., (population: 9,600) found herself with two openings on her 12-member police force, including the job of chief, she had to take some unusual action.
"In an area like ours you don't want to get your neighbors angry with you," Feurgeson said Monday. "We didn't want anyone to think we were trying to steal their policemen." Manassas Park is adjacent to the City of Manassas and Prince William County.
To make sure no one thought that, Feurgeson did not advertise in the immediate area for a police chief. Instead, she took out a classified ad for one week in The Washington Post.
"We wanted to advertise in The Star too but our budget is extremely limited and we could only afford one Washington paper," Feurgeson expalined. "We advertised both for the chief's spot and for an opening we hace for an officer.
"I'm not really interested in what's traditional. I'm the only woman city manager in the state and there are a lot of men around who don't think I should be in office either. I'm not hung up on what we used to do."
The ad ran for one week and Feurgeson said the applications were just starting to come in Monday. She said she had received six and would interview all applicants "unless someone is obviously not qualified for the job."
One person planning to apply is D.C. Police Officer Joseph C. Akers. Akers, 27, has been a D.C. policeman for six years. He says the salary being offered - $14,097 to $15,977 depending on experience - would mean taking a pay cut, but he's interested anyway.
"I have some ideas that I'd like to try out in a small town, some things I'd like to do different that I've seen," Akers said. In fact, he has drawn up a 10-point plan he plans to submit along with his resume. "It'll knock their eyes out," he promised.
Feurgeson says she's willing to listen to anyone. "I expect the new chief to make changes. I've made changes in this job too."
Feurgeson became city manager of Manassas Park, which was incorporated on June 1, 1975, on Jan. 3 of this year. One month later, Charles Land resigned as police chief. Bill Turpen, a detective, is currently acting chief and an applicant for the fulltime job which Feurgeson expects to fill by April 30.
"I'm not looking for any particular type of chief or a person of any particular age," Feurgeson said. "I'm interested in maturity. In a small town like this you can't afford a chief who's going to go off half-cocked if something goes wrong."
Or a chief who might upset the neighbors.