Tisbury officer's weekend behavior reviewed by town selectmen
File photo by Ralph Stewart
Tisbury selectmen said this week that they are reviewing the actions of police officer Kelly Kershaw following widely circulated reports that the off-duty officer partially disrobed and joined a male exotic dancer on stage before hundreds of people Saturday evening, at the Dreamland nightclub in Oak Bluffs.
Officer Kershaw is currently on paid medical leave from the Tisbury Police Department. On the night of November 20, Officer Kershaw blacked out while on duty and drove her Tisbury cruiser into a tree. At the request of Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles suspended Ms. Kershaw's driver's license because of an unspecified medical condition.
Several video clips taken Saturday evening of the performance by Men in Motion, a Boston based exotic entertainment group that performs in strip clubs, casinos, nightclubs, and private parties throughout New England, have circulated electronically and generated comments on social media sites.
Tisbury selectmen, who also serve as police commissioners for the town, commented reluctantly and in sparse detail about what action they are taking, or intend to take, in the wake of Saturday's events. Selectmen have consulted with the town's labor attorney, and at least one selectman has viewed a video of Ms. Kershaw's actions that night, The Times has confirmed.
"The selectmen are aware of the incident," selectman Jeff Kristal said Wednesday. "We are looking into it, to see if it's cause for any disciplinary action. If these allegations prove to be true, it does not reflect well on the town."
"I'm aware of the incident," selectman Jonathan Snyder said. "All I can say is we're taking appropriate action. It's always a concern, because our employees do represent the town at all times."
Chairman Tristan Israel told The Times, "We have been made aware of the matter. We will be looking into the issue and wait until we have all the facts in front of us."
Mr. Israel said he is aware of the video. He said it is important to not pass judgement until all the information is in hand. "It's important to be fair," he said.
Speaking generally, Mr. Israel said all town employees and elected officials must conduct themselves in a manner that reflects well on the town and sets a good example.
The town's police policy manual puts it this way: "Officers shall not engage in any manner of misconduct or offensive behavior that brings the department into disrepute or reflects discredit upon the officer as a member of the department, or which impairs the operation or efficiency of the department or officer."
Police chief Dan Hanavan was off Island at a training workshop Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Ms. Kershaw said she has not been contacted by the police department or town officials about the incident. She said she is aware of the video and still images of her that are circulating.
"I've become aware of it," she said. "I can't comment on anything. I'm not quite sure how that's news. I'm not going to comment."
Many people, many cameras
Hundreds of people attended the Dreamland performance Saturday. Mobile phone cameras were widely used.
One video recording shows Ms. Kershaw standing on stage between two other women, who are seated. She suddenly removes her pants, sits down in a chair, and raises her arms in a triumphant gesture acknowledging the crowd. A moment later, one of the male performers picks Ms. Kershaw up and walks around the stage simulating a sexual act.
The voices of unidentified patrons could be heard on the video remarking that Ms. Kershaw is a police officer.
Thin blue line
Following the show, Ms. Kershaw left Dreamland with friends and went to Season's Pub on Circuit Avenue. According to owner Michael Santoro, the bar manager on duty, Melissa Kalagher, described what occurred in a written report. Ms. Kershaw neither asked for, nor was served alcohol.
Off-duty Tisbury special police officer John Parker, who was at the bar, approached the manager and told her Ms. Kershaw was vomiting in the bathroom and needed to leave.
When Ms. Kalagher checked the ladies room to offer assistance, Ms. Kershaw said she did not need help. Ms. Kershaw returned to a table, where the manager asked a waitress to bring her a glass of water.
Mr. Parker once again approached the bar manager and told her Officer Kershaw needed to leave. According to Mr. Santoro, "At this point, Melissa determined that Kelly was under control sitting with her friends and drinking water, resting and waiting for a ride."
Mr. Parker asked the security person on duty at the front door to call the Oak Bluffs police. The doorman repeated that the situation was under control. Mr. Parker then called the Oak Bluffs Police, according to Mr. Santoro.
The Oak Bluffs officers who arrived also determined that the situation warranted no action by them and that there was no need to take Ms. Kershaw into protective custody, according to Mr. Santoro. Ms. Kershaw's ride arrived and she left soon after without incident.