Updated 1:35 pm
Eerik Meisner, who was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant in November, has been terminated by the Tisbury Police Department as of Wednesday afternoon.
Police Chief Mark Saloio said Meisner no longer works for the department, but wouldn’t confirm that Meisner had been fired. He referred questions to the town’s personnel director, town administrator Jay Grande.
“It’s a personnel matter, and I’m not going to comment on it,” said Grande, who is at the Massachusetts Municipal Association annual meeting in Boston. “We do appreciate [Meisner’s] service to the town.”
Typically, selectmen hire and fire police department employees, but the board was not involved in Meisner’s termination. “On the advice of counsel, I can’t discuss this,” Meisner said Thursday.
Meisner returned to the Tisbury Police Department in 2013 to become the department’s lieutenant, after spending about 20 years in Titusville, Fla. Meisner started his career as a special police officer in Tisbury in 2002.
In November, Saloio demoted Meisner to acting sergeant, saying the department’s staffing shortage was such that he needed sergeants more than he needed a second in command. At the time, Saloio said the change in Meisner’s position was not disciplinary in nature.
According to town records, Meisner’s base pay for lieutenant was $112,860 per year. His base pay dropped to $97,380 as a sergeant, but he was eligible for “shift differentials, overtime, and details,” Jon Snyder, the town’s finance director, wrote in an email. “Some weeks, his gross was actually higher as sergeant than it was when he was lieutenant, though most weeks it was lower,” he wrote.
Meisner had applied for the chief’s position, but was not a finalist for the job. Saloio was the lone finalist recommended by a screening committee.
Saloio is working on hiring two additional police officers to help with the department’s staffing shortage. Two individuals are undergoing background checks, and once those are completed Saloio expects to recommend them for hire by the board of selectmen, he said.
Saloio also made staffing changes as a result of a budget shortfall in the department, which is exacerbated by the selectmen’s decision to give former Chief Daniel Hanavan a one-year contract and then hire Saloio just four months into that deal — essentially putting taxpayers on the hook for two police chiefs in one calendar year.
Updated with comment from Grande. -Ed.