Police investigate tense confrontation with Edgartown selectmen

Edgartown selectmen Monday listened to Chappaquiddick residents express concerns about a lack of wireless phone service. — Photo by Rich Saltzberg

Edgartown police were called last week to investigate a confrontation between Warren Gosson, a retired Oak Bluffs police detective, and the three Edgartown selectmen outside town hall following the conclusion of the selectmen’s Monday, March 9, a meeting that featured a testy exchange between Mr. Gosson and town leaders.

Selectmen had reached the end of their meeting agenda when Mr. Gosson, a former Edgartown resident, asked to speak about the town’s process for choosing a new police chief. Although the topic was not on the agenda, Chairman Art Smadbeck allowed the discussion.

Mr. Gosson asked selectmen about their plans to bring their hiring process up to professional standards.

“I respect you have your own opinion, I have my opinion,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “My opinion is it has been done very well for all the years I’ve been sitting on the board of selectmen.”

“That’s a lie,” Mr. Gosson responded.

Selectmen Margaret Serpa then recused herself from the meeting, as she does with all police matters because she has relatives in the department, and left the meeting room.

Following another short exchange with Mr. Smadbeck and Selectman Michael Donaroma, Mr. Gosson left the meeting, and followed Ms. Serpa out, according to the police report.

Ms. Serpa told police that as she walked out she heard Mr. Gosson “spouting off” behind her and “he said something to the effect of ‘you’re a [expletive] idiot just like the rest of them,’” according to the report by Sergeant Tom Smith.

Mr. Smadbeck told police that Mr. Gosson later confronted him in the town hall parking lot in a loud and animated manner to talk about police hiring practices. Mr. Donaroma and information technology manager Adam Darack were concerned enough that they remained in the parking lot while Mr. Smadbeck spoke to Mr. Gosson, according to the report.

Mr. Donaroma told police that as he drove away, Mr. Gosson followed him in his vehicle. Near Pease’s Point Way, Mr. Gosson was waving his arms and trying to get Mr. Donaroma to pull over, according to the police report.

“Mr. Donaroma did not feel that this was a prudent idea at this time and location,” according to the report. “He said that he drove out of town and onto the Beach Road. He said that he became aware that Gosson was following him out of town and was ‘riding his bumper.’”

Mr. Donaroma eventually stopped and talked with Mr. Gosson, who continued his complaints about the town’s hiring process.

Sergeant Smith informed town administrator Pam Dolby that the interviews with selectmen would be documented in a police report. Ms. Dolby said she would notify police if there are any further incidents.