West Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Rossi is retiring effective June 2. In a letter to the board of selectmen dated Nov. 1, Chief Rossi wrote that “after 25 years of service to the town, I feel that I have accomplished the goals I’ve set out for myself and the police department.” In the same letter, Chief Rossi told the selectmen Lt. Matt Mincone, a 23-year veteran of the force, is his recommendation as successor. He commended Lt. Mincone’s service record, and wrote that he was the right choice for “making a seamless transition for both the department and the town.”
Chief Rossi was elevated to his position in 2010 when Chief Toomey retired, first as acting chief, and then full-time chief, after beating out a deputy police chief from Connecticut, a New York City MTA lieutenant, and Sgt. Skip Manter (who withdrew from the final round of consideration) in a selection process.
Prior to landing the job, Chief Rossi received the written recommendation of eight fellow officers, Leo DeOliveira, Daniel Durawa, Matthew Gebo, Daniel Gouldrup, Sgt. Matthew Mincone, James D. Neville, Russell Ventura, and Garrison Vieira.
“I love my job,” the Chief told The Times in a telephone interview, [but] you know when it’s time to go.”
After 27 years as a police officer, Chief Rossi said, he is ready for more time with his grandchildren and more time with a rod and reel. Longtime friend and fishing companion, former Chilmark Police Chief Tim Rich, was supportive of the decision to retire, the chief said. The chief will be joining Mr. Rich, Walter Smith Plumbing owner Robert Smith, and Lt. Mincone shortly in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine — a trip they make every year in search of bass, pike, and relaxation.
The chief is also looking forward to spending more time with family. “I have no problem babysitting — we have a ball,” Chief Rossi said, in reference to his granddaughter in West Tisbury. He’s looking forward to another grandchild in West Tisbury this January. The chief also has two granddaughters in Jackson, N.J., whom he plans to visit more frequently, he said.
Some of his fondest memories over his long career are from his time as a resource officer at the high school. It was important to him to dissolve barriers between law enforcement and students, he said, to ensure students were comfortable sharing their thoughts with police. Chief Rossi also served as assistant coach under football Coach Don Herman from 1998 to 2008, a job he said was very rewarding.
One of the most humorous instances of his career occurred while on patrol in his cruiser, he said. He pulled up to a small dead deer and decided to put it in the back of the cruiser to dispose of it. As he was motoring along, the deer sprung to life, utterly startling him. He said it was just like a scene from the Chris Farley movie “Tommy Boy.” The cage dividing the interior of the cruiser kept the frantic animal from flying into him. He drove the deer to naturalist Gus Ben David.
“I’m trying to figure out how the youngest brother got to retire early,” Edgartown Police Chief David Rossi said. It was his brother Dan who pinned the chief’s shield on him in 2015 when the Edgartown selectmen appointed him to that position. As Chief David Rossi pointed out, it was a reciprocation.
“I remember pinning the shield on him when he graduated from the police academy up in Needham,” he said. “Basically, I’m very proud of my brother Danny.”
“I look forward to spending more time with him on the golf course,” Chilmark selectmen chairman Bill Rossi said. “I’m very proud of him.”
Selectman Rossi said he thought there was little chance of his brother sitting idle in a porch rocker after retirement.
Chief David Rossi agreed. “He won’t sit at home and do nothing,” he said.
“He just loves to be on the water,” said his wife Jane Rossi, who serves as West Tisbury planning board administrator. “I think that’s where he’ll spend most of his time. I’m very proud of him. He deserves it.”
Chief Rossi said he might like to work as a harbormaster’s assistant in the future, and without stating where, emphasized that his roots run deep up-Island.
In his letter to the selectmen, the chief noted that the West Tisbury Police Department is on track to become accredited by the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.
During his telephone conversation with The Times, the chief reinforced a proud belief about the department that he’d previously put in his letter to selectmen. “I feel we have one of the best, if not the best, department on the Island,” he said.