Erin Schaible expects her transition from county to city to be a smooth one.
The former Fairfax County Police Department deputy chief of patrol spent the last decade of her 28-year tenure with the county police working out of the department’s administrative facilities near the Fairfax County Courthouse, giving her plenty of time to explore the city that will now be her employer.
The City of Fairfax announced on Jan. 23 that it has hired Schaible as its new police chief.
“I was so honored. It was a huge, huge honor,” Schaible said of her appointment, which took place during a town council meeting on Jan. 22. “I literally had goose bumps. It was very joyous.”
Schaible will succeed Carl Pardiny, who retired as chief on Dec. 1 after 30 years with the City of Fairfax Police Department.
Schaible marked her final day with the Fairfax County police on Dec. 28. She is scheduled to officially assume her new position as the Fairfax City police chief on Feb. 19.
“We’re thrilled to have Erin take over this role,” Fairfax City Manager Rob Stalzer said. “She continues a tradition of exceptional leadership in our department that, first and foremost, is focused on public safety…She’s going to be an incredible asset to our community.”
As the daughter of a man who worked in the field before becoming a U.S. Secret Service agent, Schaible says she was raised to view law enforcement as a positive, noble profession, and her father often brought home exciting stories about his experiences.
When it came time for her to enter the working world, Schaible initially went in a very different direction.
Schaible first moved to New York City and pursued fashion as a career after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in fashion merchandising and design, according to a Dec. 27 post from the FCPD media relations bureau announcing her then-impending retirement.
The fashion industry turned out to be a less-than-ideal fit, so Schaible returned to Fairfax County and decided to apply for a position with the police department after working security at Tysons Corner.
Schaible’s 28 years with the Fairfax County police introduced her to a wide range of roles and responsibilities.
After starting as a patrol officer, Schaible later became an assistant commander at both the McLean and Reston District Stations before being promoted to captain of the Franconia District Station.
When she became a major, Schaible worked in the department’s resource management bureau, which oversees vehicles, court records, and other equipment, as well as a patrol bureau that encompassed two stations, a school resource officer program, and the civil disturbance and gang investigations units.
Schaible’s FCPD career also included stints as a school resource officer, a school liaison commander, the commander of organized crime and narcotics, and deputy chief of administration.
When she retired this past December, Schaible had spent the previous five years as deputy chief of patrol, and she had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.
“I really have been super, super fortunate to have a variety of operational and administrative and patrol-oriented positions,” Schaible said. “I think it will transition really nicely…It will help me enhance things that are already established in Fairfax City, because they have a great department already.”
The City of Fairfax conducted a nationwide search for a successor to Pardiny before settling on Schaible, who stood out for her experience with managing complex investigations, team-building and project management, workplace security, conflict resolution, and crisis intervention and prevention, according to a city press release announcing her appointment.
“Because she’s had so many important positions with the county police, she’s exceptionally qualified to see the big picture of a department and the community,” Fairfax City Mayor David Meyer said. “She’ll continue to help us with cutting-edge solutions to keep our community safe, while also ensuring we attract and keep the best people on her force.”
Schaible will be the first woman to serve as police chief of Fairfax City.
When asked what that milestone means to her, she says she hopes it will inspire other women in law enforcement, but for the most part, she downplays the accomplishment, preferring to keep the focus on her skills and qualifications.
Upon joining the City of Fairfax Police Department, Schaible’s first goal will be to better understand the workforce and community so that she can develop a strategic plan to address their needs.
While making arrests is an inevitable part of a police officer’s job, Schaible believes that police serve as ambassadors of their department and city, so they should take every opportunity they have to interact positively with the community that they serve.
“I really try to be collaborative,” Schaible said. “I think that’s so, so important to have stakeholders, to have people in the community come together and provide input, because it’s their community. It’s a team effort.”