Edgartown selectmen appoint Jack Collins as acting police chief

Mr. Collins will oversee the department and the search to replace retiring police chief Tony Bettencourt.

Soon to retire Edgartown Police Chief Antone Bettencourt advised selectmen Wednesday morning to appoint Jack Collins as acting police chief while they begin a search for his replacement. — Photo by Michael Cummo

In a special Wednesday morning meeting, Edgartown selectmen voted to appoint labor counsel Jack Collins acting police chief, effective on a date to be determined later. Mr. Collins will take over the reins from police chief Antone (Tony) Bettencourt, who last week announced his plan to retire in May.

Selectmen, acting on the advice of Chief Bettencourt, will ask Mr. Collins, who was not present Wednesday morning, to help guide the search and make a recommendation on Chief Bettencourt’s replacement. Mr. Collins is a seasonal resident of Chilmark, where he is also a special police officer. He has served as special labor counsel for Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, and is the president of the Massachusetts Association of Chiefs of Police.

“My recommendation is that you hire Jack Collins to be acting police chief,” Mr. Bettencourt told the board at the Wednesday-morning meeting continued from the previous evening. “He’ll be able to make a more educated decision, because he’ll be working with the officers. He won’t be a threat to the officers; he’s not looking for a police chief’s job.”

Selectman Michael Donaroma said the appointment will help the board make a decision.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Mr. Donaroma said. “He doesn’t want the chief’s job. I know it will definitely help me with the interview process, having someone like that looking over the process.”

The chief said he had discussed the matter with Mr. Collins, and he is agreeable to the appointment as acting chief.

In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Collins said he was looking forward to the assignment.

“I’m flattered and happy to have the opportunity to provide that service to the town,” Mr. Collins said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the people of the Edgartown police department, usually as a trainer. This will be different. I’m very happy the initiative came from the officers.”

The appointment will become effective when Chief Bettencourt leaves the department. While his retirement is effective May 2, he expects to finish his tenure as chief some time in March by taking accrued vacation time. He said he has not yet determined that date.

Chairman Art Smadbeck said he was surprised after reading Chief Bettencourt’s resignation letter.

“I truly understand that for you, it is the right time,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “Congratulations on your 32 years of dedicated service to the town; that’s more than most people give to their community.”

Selectman Margaret Serpa recused herself from Wednesday’s meeting because of a conflict of interest. Chief Bettencourt is her nephew.