Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio came before Tisbury selectmen Tuesday night side-by-side with Acting Sgt. Jeff Day and West Tisbury Police Chief Matt Mincone to praise the restraint Day exhibited Aug. 9 when he and West Tisbury Sgt. Matt Gebo refrained from shooting a knife-wielding assailant and instead employed nonlethal force.
Saloio recounted Day’s encounter off State Road, when the man allegedly threatened to kill Day and Gebo. As The Times reported August 10, instead of firing bullets at Long, Day and Gebo discharged Taser darts, and were able to knock down Long without maiming or killing him.
Saloio pointed out the choice not to use deadly force was all the more notable because not only did the man allegedly threaten the officers outside in a brief standoff, but previously he told a dispatcher he intended to “kill the first police officer that came through the door.”
In a portion of Day’s official letter of commendation, Saloio highlighted the fact that the man was amazed at the officers’ restraint.
“During your conversation with the subject after he was detained,” Saloio read to the board, “the subject actually remarked, ‘I cannot believe you guys are being so nice to me when I just tried to kill you.’ The professionalism, composure, and awareness you displayed during this incident is nothing less than exemplary. You protected yourself, the community, and importantly the person at the center of this incident, suffering from mental illness. Your actions and professionalism in fact saved a life, and you are in line with the best, most noble aspects of our profession.”
Mincone spoke briefly and said he’d known Day for a long time, and was proud of him for many different reasons. Micone emphasized cooperation between the two police departments was an important and positive factor in the incident.
Board chairman Melinda Loberg said she was nearly brought to tears after reading a report of Day’s performance. She lauded him for keeping his mettle in what she described as a job with highly unpredictable everyday situations.
“Good leadership brings about good results,” selectman Jim Rogers said. “Thank you two chiefs as well.”
“It’s incredible what you did,” selectman Jeff Kristal said.
“I’d also like to commend Acting Sgt. Day,” Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling said, on his actions, “and I’d like to remind the board … that it wasn’t that long ago that the Tisbury officers didn’t have the choice of nonlethal means … and had that [option] not been available, that evening would have turned out a lot differently. It’s important that we give our officers the tools they need to perform the job safely, and that was not always the case here.”
Day received several rounds of applause from an audience that included several members of the Tisbury Police force.
Mincone later told The Times Gebo will be honored with his own letter of recommendation Wednesday afternoon before West Tisbury selectmen.
New building department takes shape
The board unanimously voted to appoint Edgartown assistant building inspector Reade Milne as temporary Tisbury building commissioner, with an end date of Dec. 31. The move follows the recent appointment of local building inspector Ross Seavey, and fills, for the time being, the hole left in the department after the departure of longtime building inspector Ken Barwick, who singlehandedly served as commissioner and inspector.
The new team will be helpful in moving along building permit and occupancy permit applications, town administrator Jay Grande said. Grande thanked Edgartown, and Edgartown town administrator James Haegerty in particular, for helping Tisbury procure Milne’s services.
“Let me just stress the temporary,” Milne said in a tongue-in-cheek manner following Kristal’s suggestion she should be appointed for six years; “don’t get too comfortable.”
She went on to say she was pleased to come on board: “I’m happy for the opportunity to work with Ross and the town — looking forward to developing that relationship,” she said. “I think that to have a rapport with other inspectors on the Island can be a good thing.”
Selectman Jim Rogers told Seavey, who sat in the audience next to Milne, that his set office hours were going over well in the construction community. He asked if Seavey has any pressing software needs in the office.
“At this point I think we’re on a nice pace,” Seavy said. “I’ve already started to integrate some basic technology that’s sped things up in the office. We are no longer using typewriters, and that alone has given Lynn, the administrative assistant, a lot more time.”
In other business, Loberg, who is soft-spoken and has been criticized for being difficult to hear at board meetings, acknowledged amplified sound might be helpful in the Katharine Cornell Theater.
“[A]s people from our audiences have repeatedly told us, we need microphones,” she said.
“What was that?” Grande asked jokingly.
Kristal, who speaks many decibels above Loberg, kidded about the microphone idea. “I don’t need a microphone, I don’t know what’s wrong with everybody else,” he said. “No, a microphone would be great.”
Rogers took the opportunity to point out the theater could use climate help, too. He suggested procuring some aesthetically appropriate mini-splits.
On behalf of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Task Force for Climate Change and Island Climate Action Network, Tisbury planning board member Cheryl Doble and Tisbury energy committee member Bill Straw gave a slide presentation meant to highlight climate change challenges for the Vineyard, and Tisbury in particular. The two stressed Tisbury must find ways to become more and more self-reliant, because outside money will never come in the amounts necessary to implement the mitigations necessary for the coming decades. They pointed out conservative estimates place many areas of Tisbury center under water in the coming years, including Lagoon Pond Road and Beach Road. Among other things needed in the near future, they said, was a precise survey of Vineyard Haven Harbor in order to plan for the future properly.