Tisbury names John Cashin new police chief
With a show of decisiveness at a special meeting Tuesday night, the Tisbury selectmen voted unanimously in favor of offering Capt. John G. Cashin of the Norwalk, Connecticut, police department the job as Tisbury's chief of police.
"It is an extremely, extremely, exciting honor and opportunity," Captain Cashin said, after town administrator John Bugbee called him with the news yesterday. "I have always absolutely loved the Vineyard and have vacationed there several times. The people have been unfalteringly gracious, and it has always been a wonderful experience."
Captain Cashin was one of three finalists for the job, along with Tisbury Police Officer Dan Hanavan and Lt. Kenneth Harrison of the Weymouth Police Department, narrowed from a field of 17 by a police chief search committee. After public interviews on July 20, the selectmen said they met afterwards and agreed to cut Lt. Harrison from the list.
Captain John Cashin. Photo by Janet Hefler
Before their vote Tuesday night, the selectmen discussed how difficult it was to choose between Captain Cashin and Officer Hanavan.
"I'm tossed about this decision," said selectman Tom Pachico. "I would love to have a local guy, but Dan hasn't had supervisory experience and has no experience in dealing with a town budget for his department."
However, in evaluating Captain Cashin, Mr. Pachico said, "We couldn't find a chink in the armor."
Selectman chairman Tristan Israel said he also was torn in his decision, in the face of a "tremendous outpouring in the community, with people pulling for the local candidate."
Although selectman Denys Wortman made the motion to choose Captain Cashin, he agreed it was a tough decision for him as well, because he considers Officer Hanavan a friend. "But we also have the opportunity to hire a real professional that can mentor Dan and others in the police department," Mr. Wortman said. "I think Mr. Cashin is a people person, besides being a policeman. I think he would be a very positive influence."
Jeff Kristal, who served on the police chief search committee, said yesterday, "We had a no-lose situation with the two candidates - either one of them would have been great. I think the selectmen picked a great candidate who, if he accepts job, would bring a lot of professionalism, expertise, and education to the department and the town."
Captain Cashin currently serves as the investigative services commander in the Norwalk Department of Police Services. Although he is officially retired, the department has a special program that allows him to remain on the job for five years.
Captain Cashin made a strong showing in his interview, injecting some humor into his well-crafted answers to the selectmen's questions. He told them he spent part of the day of his interview walking around Vineyard Haven, and he was caught off-guard by people who started up conservations with him. "Where I'm from, it means they're going to show a weapon very soon, or they're going to be committed very soon," he joked.
Captain Cashin said yesterday that Tisbury seems to have a real sense of community, which he enjoys because it reminds him of his old neighborhood growing up in the Bronx.
"I would like to have an administration based on outreach and responsiveness," he said. "I would like open communication with the community and selectmen, and Tisbury is a small enough town for a relationship like that to be possible."
During his interview last month, Captain Cashin outlined his broad-based field of expertise to the selectmen, gained through working his way up from starting as a patrol officer in his department in 1981. After his promotion to sergeant in 1989, he worked as a detective and patrol supervisor, crime prevention officer, and media relations officer.
Seeking to advance his career, he said, he obtained a master of arts degree in criminal justice in 1989 from the University of New Haven and a Master of Science degree in counseling in 1998 from Pace University. He achieved the rank of lieutenant in 1998 and captain in 2001.
Since January, Captain Cashin has served as an adjunct lecturer at Pace University for undergraduate and graduate level courses, including forensic psychology and police psychology.
When asked during his interview about his management style, Captain Cashin said, "I think my peers and subordinates would describe me as eminently approachable."
After the selectmen decided on Captain Cashin Tuesday night, they agreed they wanted to meet with him as soon as possible. Mr. Israel, anxious to get Mr. Cashin on the job, said, "I'd like to get him up here by Labor Day." Mr. Bugbee reminded him that hiring Captain Cashin is contingent on a background check and a Criminal Offenses Records Investigation (CORI).
Although Mr. Cashin has to sell his house in Stratford, Conn., he said he will make every effort to accommodate the Selectmen and the town, within reason. "I'm pretty certain I can make it up there reasonably soon," he said. "The issue will be finding a place to live up there."
Coming into Tisbury's police department as an outsider, Captain Cashin said he understands the negatives for Tisbury's police officers. "Although I must say they were so gracious the night of my interview, and hopefully we can continue those relationships." He said he hopes to encourage the men and women in the department to branch out through professional training and develop their personal interests.
"I hope to fit in very well up there, and certainly to make a lot of new and long-lasting friends," Captain Cashin said.
The police chief hiring process proved to be awkward over the past several weeks, with the selectmen oscillating between holding public and closed meetings.
At the selectmen's regularly scheduled board meeting last week, Mr. Bugbee announced that he planned to visit the candidates' workplaces in their hometowns to do further research. Although no mention had been made of it during their meeting, the selectmen admitted the next day they had narrowed the candidates to Captain Cashin and Officer Hanavan following the interviews on July 18.
Last week Mr. Bugbee and Acting Police Chief Tim Stobie took a trip to Norwalk to speak informally with Captain Cashin's colleagues and learn more about him. Mr. Israel said the selectmen did not announce the planned trip because they wanted Mr. Bugbee and Mr. Stobie to be able to find out information quietly without just speaking to people listed as references.
At Tuesday night's meeting, the selectmen met in executive session in town hall, closing the meeting to the press but inviting members of the police search committee to attend.
Mr. Israel said the executive session was justified because Mr. Bugbee read a report detailing background information about Captain Cashin that he and Chief Stobie obtained last week in Norwalk.
"We were talking about background information on an individual, which theoretically, if it had been negative, it would not have needed to be out in public," Mr. Israel said.
At the conclusion of Mr. Bugbee's report, Mr. Israel said the selectmen opened the meeting to the public and officially voted to eliminate Lt. Harrison as a police chief candidate. However, members of the press had not been invited back inside at the time of the vote.
In other business Tuesday night, the selectmen also had met earlier at 5 pm in executive session with Tisbury's water commissions. Mr. Israel said the meeting was closed to the public because it concerned employment contracts for water department personnel.