Keeping Tisbury's officers in the town's ranks
For several years, Tisbury has struggled to close a revolving door in keeping the police department fully staffed. The town has hired police officer candidates, sent them for police academy training, and paid them while attending, only to lose new officers - some within a matter of months - to other departments on and off Island that consequently reap the rewards of Tisbury's investment.
Town officials and police department personnel agree it is a combination of factors that contribute to the exodus, including the challenges of Island life and the high cost of living, and are seeking a balance in addressing both with wages and benefits.
At a selectmen's meeting on October 7, Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin recommended making conditional offers of employment to police officer applicants Dustin Shaw, who worked with the Oak Bluffs department as a teen, and Joe Ballotte, who joined Tisbury's department as a special officer in 2007. The move to fill an existing vacancy and one left by the resignation of Tisbury police officer Nicholas DiCicco in August brought the department's ongoing staffing issues to the forefront again.
Mr. DiCicco, who worked as a special officer in the summer of 2006, was tapped by Chief Cashin to come back as a special in July 2007, with the approval of the selectmen. In addition, the chief recommended moving Mr. DiCicco into a vacant full-time officer's position after he completed the next available police academy program. The selectmen agreed to pay the cost of his academy training as well.
However, after Mr. DiCicco finished the program, which ran from January through April 2008, he served only about four months as a full-time Tisbury police officer before resigning on August 29 for a job opportunity in Worcester, where he is from.
Chief Cashin's announcement about Mr. DiCicco's resignation at a selectmen's meeting on August 27 did not sit well with the board, particularly Tristan Israel, a selectman of more than 12 years. "I'm very disappointed the individual is leaving," he said. "I hate to keep putting people through the academy and getting burned - but we can't force people to pay us back."
Selectman Denys Wortman suggested the town should be competitive in attracting people who want to serve the town instead of trying to force them to stay.