Tisbury, Oak Bluffs move forward on police consolidation study

At a joint meeting Tuesday, Oak Bluffs and Tisbury selectmen agreed to get information and help from the state Department of Revenue on how the two towns might join police departments.

In a memo to the boards, town administrators from each town outlined the progress of a joint committee that met over the past two months to explore shared police services.

“In the end, it was agreed that a consolidated force could in fact be accomplished if the towns wish,” the memo concluded. “There is enough evidence that the committee has examined that we feel confident that if approved, the two towns could successfully take this step. However, there is a significant amount of work that must be done before the question can even be posed to each town.”

Gathering information from the Department of Revenue to clarify legal issues and economic issues related to such a consolidation is at the top of a list of tasks suggested in the memo.

Some tasks on the list: A cost-benefit analysis by both boards of selectmen, public meetings, a possible independent study, legislative approval, town meeting approvals, and renegotiation of union contracts.

“Financially, it may work out for both towns,” Oak Bluffs selectman Greg Coogan said. “Not in the short run, probably more in the long run.” Mr. Coogan is a member of the joint study committee.

The joint study committee has interviewed the police chiefs and union representatives from both towns. The memo notes that there are concerns among both groups, and there are those who see a consolidation as a valuable opportunity.

“It is critical that the joint committee have clear direction going forward, as they consider further exploring the aforementioned options,” the memo writers observed.