Wanting a full-time presence on-Island, the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) are looking for a place to permanently house an environmental police officer, but for now Sgt. Scott Opie is taking the reins and enforcing laws on Martha’s Vineyard.
Town officials, shellfish wardens, legislative aides, business owners, Island police, harbormasters, residents, and other stakeholders packed into the Martha’s Vineyard Rod & Gun Club Wednesday to meet Opie and newly minted environmental police Col. Shaun Santos.
After hearing concerns about a lack of Environmental Police presence on the Island, Santos told the various stakeholders that Opie will be on the Island part-time for four days a week, barring training or a court appearance. Down the road, Santos said, he wants a full-time officer living on the Island, but how quickly that will happen is still up in the air.
“Ideally I’d look for some type of lease situation in the short term. With an eye toward having a permanent residence built over here,” Santos said.
Opie is still working on getting some equipment on the Island, but does have a vehicle and a boat that will allow him do his job, and also assist other agencies on the Island.
Along with housing issues, another difficulty in having an Island-based officer is the lack of Island residents who take the test to become an MEP officer. Even if an Islander took the test to become an MEP officer, they would most likely get sent around the state, according to Santos.
“I want to be here. I’m excited to be here, and I hope you just give me enough time to earn your respect, and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together,” Opie said.
Several of the stakeholders also offered a helping hand to get a permanent MEP presence back on the Island.
“We’re here to help in both the short term and the long term,” Paul Bagnall, Edgartown’s shellfish constable, said. “Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard.”