Mount Jackson continues search for new officer

MOUNT JACKSON– The Mount Jackson Police Department is searching for a new officer to complete its four-man squad.

The search comes following the resignation of officer Rickie Franklin Wilson. On the night of April 23, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office charged Wilson with brandishing a firearm. A repossession company was trying to locate a vehicle at Wilson’s address when Wilson, according to Capt. Wesley Dellinger of the Sheriff’s Office, “allegedly displayed a firearm while the repossession company was at the residence.” The charge led to Wilson’s subsequent resignation.

Mount Jackson Police Chief Jeff Sterner explained that the search for a new officer is difficult due to the small-town nature of the position.

“A lot of candidates are out there looking for advancement opportunities, and we have very little advancement opportunities,” Sterner said. “We hope for experienced certified police officers, but Mount Jackson will hire uncertified people if they fit the right mold we’re looking for. (We’re looking for) somebody who is willing to stay, somebody who is looking for a small-town environment. Someone that’s not going to pick up a year after they get their certification and move on to a bigger department.”

Sterner said that while there are potential candidates, the department is still taking applications through today. The pay scale varies, depending on the certification, but Sterner explained that an uncertified officer would start at $38,000 while a certified officer would start at $41,000.

When asked if the Mount Jackson Police Department, due to its size and difficulty finding candidates, could go the way of the Edinburg Police Department, being taken over by the  Sheriff’s Office, Sterner said that was not a possibility.

“We have a relatively high volume of calls,” Sterner said. “I think this matter was addressed several years ago, where they talked about doing a county police agency, and all the agencies form one big department, and the towns won’t give up their police protection. That’s not something that’s going to happen here. We have projected growth coming in, so it definitely benefits the town to have their own police department on hand.”

Contact staff writer Justin McIlwee at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or jmcilwee@nvdaily.com

Correction: The second paragraph of this story was changed to note that Wilson was charged and not arrested.