Someone phoned the police department and the line was busy? Impossible? Not in Manassas.

"This is like 'Mayberry RFD,' " laughed council member Maury Gerson. "Imagine, if you can, trying to call the police and getting a busy signal. This happens all the time. I couldn't believe it."

Enough is enough, Gerson decided, after hearing another busy signal on the police department line recently. He appealed to the City Council last week to install two more phone lines in the police department.

"Will you please hold?" the council asked Gerson.

"We want to wait until the end of the month," Mayor Edgar Rohr said. By then, Rohr said, council member Stuart Vetter, a retired telephone company executive, will be back from vacation.

"He'll figure it out . . . he knows all about phones," Rohr said. "I don't think it's a problem that can't wait. There is time to find out what we're going to get for what we're going to pay."

Gerson figures that installation charges and service fees for a year for one new line for incoming calls and another for outgoing calls would be about $925.

"Now we have three incoming lines for the public and the population is 16,000," Gerson said. "In the daytime we've only got one dispatcher and the police investigators are tying up the lines calling out. At night there are two dispatchers but they can't put through calls if there isn't another line.

"If someone's house is broken into and he calls the police and gets a busy signal, that $900 is a good insurance policy," Gerson said. "This is absolutely ridiculous. I was born and raised in the Bronx, and I'll tell you, every time I get a busy signal at the police station I can't believe I'm here."