Chilmark police chief abruptly resigns

Former Chief Tim Rich to step in.

Chilmark police chief Brian Cioffi in November 2016 announcing his resignation as chief. – Edie Prescott

Citing a desire for career change and for more family time, Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi informed town selectmen on Friday that he planned to resign. On Tuesday, selectmen accepted Chief Cioffi’s resignation.

On Wednesday night, selectmen — chairman Warren Doty, vice chair William Rossi and clerk Jim Malkin — voted unanimously to name Tim Rich as acting Chilmark police chief.

Mr. Rich, 61, previously worked as a Chilmark police officer for 34 years, starting as a “summer cop” when he was 21, according to executive secretary Tim Carroll. He went on to become police chief, a position he held for 30 years, until retiring in 2009.

Brian Cioffi was a Chilmark police office for 10 years before stepping into the chief’s role upon Mr. Rich’s retirement.

In a Dec. 16 letter to chairman of the selectmen Warren Doty, Chief Cioffi wrote, “My family and I have decided that it is time for me to pursue other business opportunities. This is not an easy decision, but I am convinced that this is the right time to make a change if I am ever going to utilize my college training in forestry and my lifelong ambitions of working in an outdoor position, while hopefully spending more time with my family.”

Mr. Cioffi asked selectmen to waive the 30-day notice clause in his contract. “I hope that in light of the relatively slow time of the year, and in the spirit of the season, you would consider waiving or at least shortening that provision,” he wrote. Mr. Cioffi said that he would help with the transition while the town finds a permanent replacement.

The chief wrote, “I have enjoyed my time with the Police Department, and value my relationships with all the other dedicated department members. Their commitment to the principles of Community Policing that I tried to instill in them have made me proud.”

Mr. Cioffi did not attend the Wednesday evening meeting.

In choosing Mr. Rich, selectmen cited Mr. Rich’s deep experience, and the fact that he would not need to obtain any police training. Mr. Rich is currently a “group 4 retiree” of the town, which means that his work will be restricted to 960 hours a year — about the amount of time needed to search for a new chief. Selectmen also acknowledged that they were putting the cart before the horse: Mr. Rich will start work immediately, but details about his employment, including pay, are still to be worked out by Selectman Rossi.

And there’s the other detail of a uniform: The six-foot, eight-inch Mr. Rich no longer has one.

“I am humbled that the selectmen have the confidence in me to step in under these circumstances,” Mr. Rich said. “As I did when I was the chief for more than 30 years, I will do it to the best of my ability.” Mr. Rich added that although the current trend is for police chiefs to have unlisted phone numbers, that his number is in the book, and always has been.