Edgartown police chief is retiring

He joins two other Island police chiefs, including his brother, who are stepping down.

Police Chief Dave Rossi, right, is retiring after suffering a heart attack. Also pictured is Lt. Christopher Dolby who will take over as acting chief. — File Photo by Michael Cummo

Edgartown Police Chief David Rossi announced Monday he’d be stepping down from his position. The decision came after he suffered a heart attack on Friday, Nov. 17, and spent the weekend in the hospital. “During that time, I had to figure out what’s important to me, and that’s family,” he said to Edgartown selectmen Monday at their regularly scheduled meeting. “So I’m going to be seeking to get a disability retirement.”

According to Chief Rossi, heart-related stress comes with the job, and he asked selectmen for their support as he moves forward with the 111F Massachusetts state law that says any police officer or firefighter incapacitated during duty gets leave with pay.

Chief Rossi has a wife, three kids, and will be a grandfather in January. He said he’s confident in his decision, and remains focused on his health and getting better.

“If I move too much or walk too far, I feel it,” he told The Times. “It’s going to take its time, and I’m going to be patient. It’s humbling. It’s not in my personality to slow down.”

He said community engagement is what he’ll miss most about the job, but he plans to stay involved. “What it comes down to, and it sounds corny, but the reason I got into police work is because I really do have an interest in helping people,” he said.

Chief Rossi is the highest paid police chief on the Island at $175,000 per year. He joins his brother, West Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Rossi, who is retiring, and Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Hanavan, who is not being offered a new contract by Tisbury selectmen.

Chief David Rossi has worked for the Edgartown department for more than 25 years, and served as chief since 2015. While on leave, he recommends Lt. Christopher Dolby stand in as acting chief until a new chief is appointed. “He’s the guy, no question,” Chief Rossi said to selectmen. Lt. Dolby has worked for the Edgartown police department since 1991.

Chief Rossi also recommended Lt. Dolby apply for the full-time position, but the lieutenant doesn’t want the job. “It’s not the right timing for me,” Lt. Dolby said, “but hopefully down the road.” Lt. Dolby said he would stand in as acting chief for as long as necessary.

After being promoted from detective sergeant to lieutenant in 2015, Lt. Dolby told The Times his responsibilities became much more administrative, and he oversees many members of the department. “It’s a good job, and I’m very happy with it,” he said. The chief position comes with more meetings, budget management, and a general responsibility to oversee departments and law enforcement.

To fill the position, Chief Rossi requested an outside assessment. Selectmen chairman Arthur Smadbeck agreed, and asked Chief Rossi to help seek out a group.

“It’s an important process,” Chief Rossi said. “I think it’d be good to have someone from the outside look at it.”

“We’re sorry to see you go, but we’re happy to see you here,” selectmen Michael Donaroma told Chief Rossi.

In other business, the board approved a third annual Teddy Bear Trot, to take place on Sunday, Dec. 10, during Christmas in Edgartown. Selectmen also approved closure of the Terrace at the Charlotte Inn from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9. An off-Island resident requested a plot in Edgartown cemetery, which the cemetery commission denied. The individual sent an appeal to selectmen, but selectmen supported the commission’s decision.