The requests from the Edgartown police patrolmen’s union that members take an active role in the search for the new police chief, and that former Chief David Rossi be excluded from the search committee, have been rejected by selectman Art Smadbeck.
At the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Mr. Smadbeck said he opposed the requests and asked that his decision be “memorialized in a letter” to the union.
At the Jan. 8 selectmen’s meeting, Officer Jeffrey Trudel read a letter on behalf on the union stating the members did not believe Mr. Rossi would be objective in his decision. “The patrolmen embrace a transparent and objective process in seeking a new police chief, but we do not think that can be accomplished with former Chief Rossi participating in the hiring process,” he said.
The union had requested replacing Mr. Rossi with Oak Bluffs Chief Erik Blake, and adding a union representative on the selection committee.
Explaining his decision on Monday, Mr. Smadbeck spoke highly of Mr. Rossi, and contended he will be an asset to the selection committee.
“I served with David on the last negotiating committee,” he said. “David’s objectivity is what made that negotiation possible. He was for the department and he was extremely objective. When it was necessary for him to tell the selectmen this was the right thing to do, he was very clear about that. In addition, Chief Rossi was president of the patrolmen’s union for a long time. In past years I had the opportunity to negotiate directly with him on these contracts, and I always appreciated his objectivity. I think it would be very hard to find somebody more objective than David, who also knows plenty about what’s going on inside the department.”
Mr. Smadbeck also explained his decision to not include a member of the union on the hiring committee. “They’re not going to be hiring the boss,” he said. “However, I would be in favor of making an opportunity for the patrolmen’s union, and all patrolmen and sergeants for that matter, to meet with the final candidates in a group forum prior to us making a decision.”
Chairman Margaret Serpa agreed. “I have a slight conflict; David is my son-in-law,” she said. “I think we need to move on and resolve the issues brought up at our meeting on [Jan. 8], and move forward with the plan and the committee that we selected.”
Mr. Smadbeck also addressed an anonymous email questioning the town’s selection of Tewksbury-based Integrity Testing to assist the selection committee and selectmen in the hiring of the new police chief.
“There was a request to look at the three [proposals] that had come in, in addition to the one that we awarded,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “We’ll make these available to anybody who wants to take a look at them in the town administrator’s office.”
On Tuesday, The Times obtained copies of the proposals from town administrator Pam Dolby. In addition to Integrity Testing, proposals were submitted from Plymouth-based BadgeQuest public safety consultants and Pocasset-based Public Safety Consultants LLC.
At the Jan. 8 meeting, Mr. Rossi stated that Integrity Testing submitted the lowest bid. He said the three companies were recommended by the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association.
Integrity Testing bid $9,500 to provide consulting and recruiting services and “conduct a Sole Assessment Center Promotional Process” for one to five candidates. BadgeQuest bid $11,995 for recruitment services, with an option of an Assessment Center for one to five candidates for $7,200 and optional background investigation of the final candidate for $3,000.
Public Safety Consultants bid $6,800 to provide a Police Chief Assessment Center for one to five candidates and an additional $3,100 for executive search consulting services, totaling $9,900. The cover letter to Chief Rossi was dated Dec. 11, and the proposal was labeled “received late.” On Tuesday, town administrator Pam Dolby told The Times there was no request for proposal (RFP) required in the process because the allocation for the consulting services was less than $10,000. She also said that she was not involved with the selection of Integrity Services.
“It went through my procurement officer, and the selectmen had asked Chief Rossi to assist in the process back in November, beginning of December,” she said. “He made the calls, he got the quotes with the approval of the procurement officer. I haven’t been involved in it at all.”
According to the job description posted on the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police website by Integrity Testing, the town is seeking people with experience as police chief, deputy police chief, or captain with a minimum of 15 years experience. Other criteria include no disciplinary issues in the past 10 years, and establishing residency on Martha’s Vineyard within 60 days of employment start date. The position pays between $170,000 and $178,000. The deadline for applications is Feb. 10.
Scalloping on Saturday
In other business, selectmen unanimously voted 2-0 to approve commercial scalloping on Saturdays until the end of the season on March 31. The shellfish committee had voted 2-1 in favor of the change last Tuesday, according to shellfish constable Paul Bagnall. The dissenting voter was concerned about the increased fishing further depressing the price of bay scallops. “We have scallops, Westport has scallops, and the west end of Long Island has scallops,” Mr. Bagnall said. Bay scallops are selling for about half the price they sold last year, which peaked at around $25 a pound.
Mr. Bagnall told selectmen the shellfish committee might make an additional recommendation to increase the daily limit by one bushel or to extend the season past March 31, adding that 25 commercial limits were landed on Monday. The daily commercial limit for bay scallops is three 10-gallon wash baskets.
Two members of the Harbor Advisory Board went before selectmen to float the idea of changing the location of the dinghy dock area during the summer, beginning 2019. Primarily citing safety concerns, Scott Morgan and Skip Tomassian proposed relocating the dinghy dock to the western side of the town dock, where three commercial fishermen currently tie up. “The area of the dinghy dock in the summer is really congested, and it’s approaching a dangerous level,” Mr. Morgan said. “There’s no perfect solution, but what we came up with is the south side of Memorial Wharf. You’d have a lot more room for dinghies, it’s deeper and it’s safer.” Mr. Morgan said at the current dinghy dock, dinghies are often tied up four deep in the summer.
“With a dinghy on the outside row, that’s four or five dinghies deep. Someone’s going to pitch themselves over the side and come up underneath, hit their head, or not be able to come up and find a place to stick their head to get a breath of air,” Mr. Tomassian said. “It’s a wonder it hasn’t happened yet.”
Mr. Morgan anticipates blowback from the commercial fishermen. “We’re asking them to give us three and a half months,” he said. “They still would have their parking passes at Memorial Wharf; they would still be able to load and unload at the foot of Main Street.”
Mr. Morgan estimated the western side of the dock could safely accommodate 100 dinghies.
Both Mr. Smadbeck and Ms. Serpa endorsed the concept.
Ms. Dolby said the change would require public hearings that would take place sometime in late April or early May.
“This isn’t anything that’s going to happen this summer,” she said.