Edgartown patrolmen’s union will not vote on new chief

Selectmen also vote to extend commercial scalloping to Saturdays at their regular meeting.

Edgartown selectman Arthur Smadbeck defended having former Chief David Rossi on the police chief selection committee. - File photo

The requests from the Edgartown police patrolmen’s union that members take an active role in the search for the new police chief, and that former Chief David Rossi be excluded from the search committee, have been rejected by selectman Art Smadbeck.

At the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Mr. Smadbeck said he opposed the requests and asked that his decision be “memorialized in a letter” to the union.

At the Jan. 8 selectmen’s meeting, Officer Jeffrey Trudel read a letter on behalf on the union stating the members did not believe Mr. Rossi would be objective in his decision. “The patrolmen embrace a transparent and objective process in seeking a new police chief, but we do not think that can be accomplished with former Chief Rossi participating in the hiring process,” he said.

The union had requested replacing Mr. Rossi with Oak Bluffs Chief Erik Blake, and adding a union representative on the selection committee.

Explaining his decision on Monday, Mr. Smadbeck spoke highly of Mr. Rossi, and contended he will be an asset to the selection committee.

“I served with David on the last negotiating committee,” he said. “David’s objectivity is what made that negotiation possible. He was for the department and he was extremely objective. When it was necessary for him to tell the selectmen this was the right thing to do, he was very clear about that. In addition, Chief Rossi was president of the patrolmen’s union for a long time. In past years I had the opportunity to negotiate directly with him on these contracts, and I always appreciated his objectivity. I think it would be very hard to find somebody more objective than David, who also knows plenty about what’s going on inside the department.”

Mr. Smadbeck also explained his decision to not include a member of the union on the hiring committee. “They’re not going to be hiring the boss,” he said. “However, I would be in favor of making an opportunity for the patrolmen’s union, and all patrolmen and sergeants for that matter, to meet with the final candidates in a group forum prior to us making a decision.”

Chairman Margaret Serpa agreed. “I have a slight conflict; David is my son-in-law,” she said. “I think we need to move on and resolve the issues brought up at our meeting on [Jan. 8], and move forward with the plan and the committee that we selected.”

Mr. Smadbeck also addressed an anonymous email questioning the town’s selection of Tewksbury-based Integrity Testing to assist the selection committee and selectmen in the hiring of the new police chief.

“There was a request to look at the three [proposals] that had come in, in addition to the one that we awarded,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “We’ll make these available to anybody who wants to take a look at them in the town administrator’s office.”

On Tuesday, The Times obtained copies of the proposals from town administrator Pam Dolby. In addition to Integrity Testing, proposals were submitted from Plymouth-based BadgeQuest public safety consultants and Pocasset-based Public Safety Consultants LLC.

At the Jan. 8 meeting, Mr. Rossi stated that Integrity Testing submitted the lowest bid. He said the three companies were recommended by the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association.

Integrity Testing bid $9,500 to provide consulting and recruiting services and “conduct a Sole Assessment Center Promotional Process” for one to five candidates. BadgeQuest bid $11,995 for recruitment services, with an option of an Assessment Center for one to five candidates for $7,200 and optional background investigation of the final candidate for $3,000.

Public Safety Consultants bid $6,800 to provide a Police Chief Assessment Center for one to five candidates and an additional $3,100 for executive search consulting services, totaling $9,900. The cover letter to Chief Rossi was dated Dec. 11, and the proposal was labeled “received late.” On Tuesday, town administrator Pam Dolby told The Times there was no request for proposal (RFP) required in the process because the allocation for the consulting services was less than $10,000. She also said that she was not involved with the selection of Integrity Services.

“It went through my procurement officer, and the selectmen had asked Chief Rossi to assist in the process back in November, beginning of December,” she said. “He made the calls, he got the quotes with the approval of the procurement officer. I haven’t been involved in it at all.”

According to the job description posted on the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police website by Integrity Testing, the town is seeking people with experience as police chief, deputy police chief, or captain with a minimum of 15 years experience. Other criteria include no disciplinary issues in the past 10 years, and establishing residency on Martha’s Vineyard within 60 days of employment start date. The position pays between $170,000 and $178,000. The deadline for applications is Feb. 10.


Scalloping on Saturday

In other business, selectmen unanimously voted 2-0 to approve commercial scalloping on Saturdays until the end of the season on March 31. The shellfish committee had voted 2-1 in favor of the change last Tuesday, according to shellfish constable Paul Bagnall. The dissenting voter was concerned about the increased fishing further depressing the price of bay scallops. “We have scallops, Westport has scallops, and the west end of Long Island has scallops,” Mr. Bagnall said. Bay scallops are selling for about half the price they sold last year, which peaked at around $25 a pound.

Mr. Bagnall told selectmen the shellfish committee might make an additional recommendation to increase the daily limit by one bushel or to extend the season past March 31, adding that 25 commercial limits were landed on Monday. The daily commercial limit for bay scallops is three 10-gallon wash baskets.

Two members of the Harbor Advisory Board went before selectmen to float the idea of changing the location of the dinghy dock area during the summer, beginning 2019. Primarily citing safety concerns, Scott Morgan and Skip Tomassian proposed relocating the dinghy dock to the western side of the town dock, where three commercial fishermen currently tie up. “The area of the dinghy dock in the summer is really congested, and it’s approaching a dangerous level,” Mr. Morgan said. “There’s no perfect solution, but what we came up with is the south side of Memorial Wharf. You’d have a lot more room for dinghies, it’s deeper and it’s safer.” Mr. Morgan said at the current dinghy dock, dinghies are often tied up four deep in the summer.

“With a dinghy on the outside row, that’s four or five dinghies deep. Someone’s going to pitch themselves over the side and come up underneath, hit their head, or not be able to come up and find a place to stick their head to get a breath of air,” Mr. Tomassian said. “It’s a wonder it hasn’t happened yet.”

Mr. Morgan anticipates blowback from the commercial fishermen. “We’re asking them to give us three and a half months,” he said. “They still would have their parking passes at Memorial Wharf; they would still be able to load and unload at the foot of Main Street.”

Mr. Morgan estimated the western side of the dock could safely accommodate 100 dinghies.

Both Mr. Smadbeck and Ms. Serpa endorsed the concept.

Ms. Dolby said the change would require public hearings that would take place sometime in late April or early May.

“This isn’t anything that’s going to happen this summer,” she said.



  1. It seems interesting that when Tony Bettencourt retired he stated on record that he was leaving a good department that was in good shape. But at the January 8 selectmen’s meeting Chris Dolby stood up and said that the department is now a mess with infighting and ill will. So somewhere between when Tony retired and David and Chris became leaders of the department it went downhill significantly and rapidly. If it completely fell apart under the directorship of David Rossi and Chris Dolby, why are they having anything to do with finding the next chief? Here’s an article confirming what Tony Bettencourt said when he left. https://www.mvtimes.com/2015/01/15/edgartown-police-chief-tony-bettencourt-will-retire-may/

  2. The Edgartown polish is looking a bit thin. Family members of the town leadership are promoted over current Sgt’s in dept, then said department declines into a state of turmoil. This is not about anything except poor leadership. Wait hold your horses everyone, now lets have poor leadership pick new leadership.Have the selectman even tried speaking to some of the officers other that their own family members. I have a feeing they could shed some light on some of this. I cant wait to watch Edgartown’s true colors emerge from the shadows. At this rate my tisbury peeps are looking a bit more professional. i’d love to stay and watch but i’m busy watching my own trashcan fire a few towns over.

  3. Mr. Smadback’s justification for his decision is absolutely absurd. It is acknowledged that the police department is in turmoil. An environment of fragmentation and animosity has come to a head under the leadership of Chief Rossi and Lt. Dolby. Mr. Smadback ignores all of this and still promotes Chief Rossi’s involvement on the search committee, because of a personal connection. Impropriety and nepotism are pervasive within the town leadership and police department. A selectman’s son-in-law is promoted from patrolman to Chief and an administrator’s son is fast tracked to the next in line. The town leadership is ethically compromised.

    • Did you complain when a former Chief’s son got hired? Or when the former harbormaster’s son got hired? Or when the former town clerk’s son got hired? Or when the son of the fire chief got hired? Or when the son of the town accountant was hired whose stepfather was the secretary to the selectmen? All of whom have served the town well, as did Chief Rossi and Lt. Dolby. Its a small island, and you will find that people with ties to the department might be related to others here. Sounds like selective amnesia.

  4. The police requirements of the future will overwhelm a department perpetuated by the selection process we have heard discussed thus far. As a civilian I am worried.

  5. Ok, enough is enough. In terms of nepotism your vast knowledge of Edgartown and/or 3 minutes of research wasn’t enough time for you guys to figure out that Margaret Serpa is former Cheif Tony Bettencourt’s aunt, this however seems to be easily dismissed and it doesn’t aid your current argument. Furthermore selectmen are elected officials, if you don’t like them get together go out and vote. In regards to the previous transition of Chiefs, Bettencourt had no clear successor or lieutenant in place, creating the catalyst that would lead to Chief Rossi. Rossi was a seasoned veteran with the highest education level on the force who was well-regarded by the community. Besides being a good candidate for Chief one may wonder why he wasn’t promoted from patrolmen in the first place. To conclude Jack Collins, whom the town independantly hired, determined after an exhaustive study that Rossi was the best candidate. … Probably not a far stretch for some of your guys brains. The department is not in turmoil, there have been no scandals, they received federal accreditation, day to day operations seem to be going fine, and they also received a FREE make over to their building saving the town hundreds of thousands of dollars. Quite simply there is no turmoil, just some veterans on the force who are scorned like middle schoolers who weren’t picked first for the dodgeball team. Time to pick up and move on instead of unfairly dragging people names through the mud.

    • You must have missed the meeting where Lt. Dolby stood up at a selectmen’s meeting and said the department is a mess and no one from here can fix it. If everything you say is true, why spend so much money to look outside the department for a new chief? I don’t know if they need an outside chief or not but people are finally tired of perceived nepotism. It isn’t toys and games to the excellent officers who are passed over for promotion because their parents and in laws didn’t work in town hall. It isn’t sour grapes when you commit your life to protecting your community and get passed over time and again because you weren’t born to the right family or don’t suck up to the right people or are held hostage when you are unjustly removed from duty for the same behaviors that have gotten others successfully promoted. The system is broken. They have no official hiring policy because it has to remain fluid so whatever relative they want in – when it can legally happen – happens…

      • Why are you commenting as though the “the excellent officers who are passed over for promotion” aren’t being offered the ability to apply? It was pretty clear to me at the last meeting that they are encouraged to apply and are not excluded in the process.

        • The local officers certainly can apply but which one has these “preferred” items included in the job posting:

          • Experience as Police Chief, Deputy Police Chief or Captain with a minimum of fifteen (15) years’ experience as a Police Officer preferred.

          The applicant should have certifications in Incident Command System (ICS) training and experience in Emergency Preparedness Management, Planning, and Execution. ICS 400 preferred.

          Local applicants are at a disadvantage simply by virtue of the fact that this department doesn’t offer Deputy Chief or Captain positions and no one has ever needed ICS 400. The former fire chief is the only one that ever had ICS 400 specifically.

      • And some of us are tired of unfounded and unproven accusations of “perceived nepotism”. Throw the argument of nepotism aside, can you make a rational argument as to why Rossi or Dolby weren’t qualified for their promotions, if not the best candidates. I’m not going to vote for candidate A, who is less qualified than candidate B, because candidate B is related to a person in power. Unless Edgartown decides it wants have 5 chiefs and 5 lieutenants at the same time there are going to be veterans upset, simply an issue of having this many positions and this number of officers.

  6. Edgyouth, you must be the son or daughter of someone in the “clique.” Leave the conversation to the adults, and get your facts straight before commenting in a public forum.

    It’s pretty obvious that the last experiment with leadership didn’t work. Rossi is obviously a great guy with a lot of experience, but probably wasn’t fit to be a police chief. A seasoned veteran isn’t always fit to be an administrator. If you were paying attention to the selectmen, they admitted that the Jack Collins process was flawed and a “mistake.” Again the selectmen publicly admitted that the new process needed to cast a “wider net.”

    If the department isn’t in turmoil, why would Lt. Dolby publicly plead to the selectmen for help? Also, the department is not federally accredited. They received certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Program.

    The work done in the front of the police Station was a donation from a wealthy summer resident who couldn’t stand the sight of the front of the building. How does the way the FRONT of the building look have anything to do with the men and women who work inside?

    Maybe some of the officers aren’t pleased with the promotional process over the years, but that doesn’t give you the right to criticize and insult them calling them middle schoolers who weren’t picked for the dodgeball team.

    Do you have any idea what their job entails? We have a great group of officers protecting our town and I respect each and every one of them. I would pick most of them for my dodgeball or chess team. In a time of crisis or need I wouldn’t want anyone else showing up. They always carry themselves with professionalism. I’m sure all they really want is a transparent process to find the best candidate to fix some of the internal issues, and lead the department into the future. Is that really too much to ask?

    • Thank you for your lesson in maturity. Although inexperienced in life I think I can see the futility in getting into an argument with an adult who creates a username of theresastormbrewin. I’m all for a more transparent and wider hiring process, and guess what, after its done there’s going to still be a bunch of “adults” kicking and screaming about it. Good luck

      • Indeed. If everyone just presented themselves honestly, by name, the civility quotient would rise geometrically – perhaps something to which the younger generation might attain – once we grumpy old men are gone.

  7. No, thank you for your extremely valuable insight. I’m sure you have influenced so many readers of this thread. I’m sure someday you’ll be kicking and screaming begging for the assistance of EPD. I hope they are the ones you picked for your dodgeball team.

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