STEPHENS CITY — The town has resumed its search for a new police chief.
Stephens City is seeking a successor to former chief Charles Bockey, who retired on Aug. 30. The town began its search for a new chief in November, but the COVID-19 pandemic halted the process earlier this year. Maj. Steve Hawkins from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office is currently serving as the town’s interim police chief.
“With COVID-19 we put a pause on the search as we have many applicants from out of state and did not want to encourage interstate travel,” Town Manager Mike Majher told The Star.
Vice Mayor Jason Nauman said during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting that he, Mayor Mike Diaz and Majher have tentatively scheduled panel interviews and assessments to be conducted by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.
Diaz said he wanted to reiterate that the town has just resumed the search process and that an applicant hasn’t been selected.
“I have already had one person reach out to me saying that we have already selected a chief,” Diaz said. “I want to make sure that it is 100% understood that we are resuming the process for selection. We do not have one selected at this time.”
Nauman said the hope is to have a new chief in place in September, with the selection made by the end of August, barring any coronavirus issues.
Majher told The Star that the pool of applicants is down to five, including town officer Bill Copp. A panel that includes Diaz, Majher and Nauman will recommend to council their preferred pick and provide council a list of the top three candidates. The council will ultimately vote on who is hired.
In addition to the interim chief, the town’s police department currently has two officers and an administrative assistant. Just over 2,000 people live in Stephens City. Bockey was earning $70,000 annually when he retired.
Also at the meeting, council member Tina Stevens suggested the council adopt a resolution in support of people of color and equity in response to recent protests against racism and police brutality that emerged in wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis. Stevens noted that the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors last month adopted a resolution supporting the fair and equal treatment of African Americans and condemning systemic violence toward members of the Black community. See said she would like Stephens City to do something similar.
“I think eventually we’ll have to say something,” Stevens said. “I did on my [Facebook ] page. Because people are always asking, ‘So how does Stephens City feel? Are they going to do a resolution? Shenandoah County already did one. Where do you guys stand?’ That’s something we’ll have to address as council.”
Stevens was directed to begin the process of drafting a resolution during the town’s Ordinance Committee meeting.
In other business, Majher and several council members reminded town residents that for trash to be collected curbside, residents must place their trash inside the trash cans provided by Waste Management. Waste Management, which started providing garbage disposal services for the town last week, will not accept trash that isn’t located inside a can.