Good marks for Tisbury chief in prelim report
Consultant Robert Wasserman, delivering a preliminary report on the town police department to the Tisbury selectmen Tuesday, gave interim chief Daniel Hanavan and the department high marks. In his comments, Mr. Wasserman made recommendations on improving policies and procedures, defining the selectmen's oversight role, and moving forward in resolving some longstanding issues.
The selectmen hired Mr. Wasserman, a West Tisbury resident and international security consultant, to review the police department's operations and management following the May 20 departure of former Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin.
Immediately upon Chief Cashin's departure, the selectmen appointed Officer Daniel Hanavan, a 19-year veteran of the Tisbury Police Department, as interim chief through October 12.
Mr. Wasserman said over the last several weeks he has interviewed many of the department's members and reviewed documentation of procedures and current best practices in departments similar in size to Tisbury's.
"It is clear to me that the officers in this department are competent," Mr. Wasserman said. Each has his or her own view of policing, he added, which generally drives how they spend their time when they're on duty. "That leads us towards thinking about the need for a stronger sense of direction about how some of their time is spent."
While members of the department mostly do a good job in handling situations that come to their attention, Mr. Wasserman said, "In serious situations, major crimes or related incidents, their performance is often exceptional."
Although turmoil in the department has diminished since Chief Hanavan has been acting chief, several issues still need to be addressed, Mr. Wasserman said. He will provide more details in his final report in a few weeks, after he has finished his discussions with members of the department.
Touching on a few of those issues, Mr. Wasserman said the department needs a new set of up-to-date policies and procedures, including clear, modern policies on use of force, pursuit, truthfulness, respect and treatment of persons.
There are several sources to work from, he suggested, such as the Massachusetts Police Institute or the Oak Bluffs Police Department.
Mr. Wasserman also recommended formalizing and enforcing the chain of command within the department. As recommended in his previous assessment of the department several years ago, Mr. Wasserman said promotions should be open to all within the department.
Otherwise, when someone is promoted without the chance for others to have the opportunity, it can be demoralizing to those overlooked. Not following a process reflects on the chain of command and the selectmen in their role as police commissioners.