West Tisbury lieutenant interviewed for chief

Public officials give strong support; one selectman suggests Lt. Mincone is a shoo-in.

West Tisbury Police Lt. Matt Mincone sits for a public interview in the West Tisbury Public Library Wednesday night. —Rich Saltzberg

West Tisbury selectmen interviewed Lt. Matt Mincone at the end of their board meeting Wednesday at the West Tisbury Public Library as a candidate for chief of police.

Outgoing Chief Daniel Rossi, who announced at the interview he will be departing in April, two months earlier than expected, has repeatedly recommended Mincone as his replacement.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell told the audience at the beginning of the interview that a few months earlier when Chief Rossi announced his retirement, the selectmen were visited by the majority of West Tisbury’s police force. The officers produced a letter of endorsement for Mincone in the hopes that selectmen would appoint him chief, she said.

Throughout the interview, which included questions from the audience, endorsements from public officials rolled in.

Tri-Town Ambulance Chief Ben Retmier said Mincone, who is the MVRHS boys varsity hockey coach, helped Retmier become a youth hockey coach, and said that he has known Mincone a long time. “Myself and our staff and our EMTs and our medics, we support him becoming the chief, and we look forward to a continuing great relationship with that department with him at the head,” he said.

“There’s just something about Matt’s personality that makes him very approachable and very available,” treasurer Kathy Logue said. “Not just in the door is open or whatever, but in a true sense.” She went on to say she had worked with Mincone for several years and “not once have I felt that I couldn’t ask him whatever question I needed to ask him related to an officer or a payroll or a benefit or whatever. And I think that speaks volumes in terms of the way he would work in this community.”

Town accountant Bruce Stone echoed much of Logue’s praise for Mincone. He said that many people may not know how much administrative work Mincone has done the past few years. He asked Mincone if anything about the prospect of ascending to chief made him nervous.

“Sitting here tonight,” Mincone said. He said he has spent the past three weeks preparing for the interview. “It hit me last night — working — that it’s happening tomorrow. I just sort’ve had to rely on the experience that I have and the involvement that I have. I actually stopped by Skip’s [Manter] house and talked to some other people. I had a good talk with Danny [Rossi] this morning. They thought I was prepared, so it comforted me to sit here and hopefully not show that I was as nervous as I was to start.”

Asked by selectman Kent Healy if he would be in favor of an all-Island police force, Mincone said West Tisbury would be loath to give up its sovereignty and identity.

Mincone told the audience that he first worked in Aquinnah as a summer police officer in 1992. He then worked in Chilmark for a time before becoming a special officer in West Tisbury. He joined the force full-time in 1995, and has held every rank the department has other than chief.

Asked what skills he has to maintain a close relationship with other town departments, among other things, Mincone pointed to his sense of humor: “Not a lot of people know it, but I have quite a sense of humor, and I’m willing to listen, and when there’s a time to joke about it we’re going to joke about it, and when there’s a time to get to work, then we’re going to do it,” he said.

Rossi told the audience that Mincone deserves special credit for years of work he’s put in to move the department toward full accreditation.

Mincone said full accreditation, which is a step up from baseline accreditation, puts in place a cycle of refinement for police policies and procedures that will keep the department constantly improving.

At the close of the meeting, Mitchell said the selectmen will make a decision by Feb. 7.

“It’s probably no secret what it’s likely to be,” she said.

Selectmen chairman Skip Manter, a West Tisbury police sergeant, recused himself from the interview but sat in the audience. There are currently no other known candidates for the position.