Officer Mark Santon will stay on the Tisbury Police Department

Tisbury police officer Mark Santon waits for Tuesday's hearing to start. He has been reinstated.


Tisbury Officer Mark Santon is back on the job after being out on paid administrative leave, town administrator Jay Grande said.

Santon, a 25-year veteran of the force, was the subject of a closed-door disciplinary hearing before the board of selectmen on Wednesday. He was placed on paid leave after female prisoner nearly choked herself to death, according to town officials and court records.

“The personnel matter has been resolved,” Mr. Grande said.

The woman who was arrested and attempted suicide told The Times on Wednesday that her arrest triggered a panic attack that caused her to black out, leaving her with no recollection of what happened while she was left in the police cruiser.

Selectman Tristan Israel told The Times he believed selectmen dealt with the matter fairly and that he was satisfied with the outcome, after a nearly four hour hearing. “We thoroughly vetted the event and took decisive action with regard to the situation,” he said.

The town has not yet released a copy of the investigation report, which was done by an independent investigator.

According to a police report from the Jan. 27 incident, Officer Santon was taking the woman to the Dukes County jail in Edgartown after she was arrested on a charge of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, following a car accident near the Vineyard Haven ferry terminal. The woman produced a Brazilian passport instead of a driver’s license at the accident scene, according to the report.

While Officer Santon was inside the jail, the woman wiggled out of one of her handcuffs and wrapped a string from a hooded sweatshirt around her neck, according to the police report. When Officer Santon and a sheriff’s deputy emerged from the jail to transfer her into county custody, they found the woman unconscious and without a pulse. She was revived and taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
The Island-wide practice of bringing prisoners to the jail and leaving them unattended while the officer checks in with the deputy on duty — which could leave the prisoners unattended for “five to 15 minutes” — needed to be changed and that leaving a person unattended was “unacceptable,”

Mr. Israel said.

“That’s a glaring error in protocol,” Mr. Israel said.