Edgartown Police add policy requiring intervention

Selectmen also hear bright ideas on how town can save on energy costs.

Edgartown can save $2,500 a year in electricity by simply adding LED lighting and upgraded faucets. — Gabrielle Mannino

Updated 2 pm

Selectmen approved a change to the Edgartown Police Department’s use of force policy Monday. The change comes as nationwide demonstrations rail against systemic racism and police brutality. 

The language added to the policy is called “duty to intervene,” where if one officer sees another officer committing an illegal act, the first officer will step in and intervene.

“Though we always have that expectation here that an officer would step in, it is now clearly enumerated in our policy,” Police Chief Bruce McNamee told the board. McNamee also mentioned the department’s policy, put in place in 2018, that forbids using race as a pretext for any police action, which he said his officers have read over again.

The killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer was the catalyst behind a series of national demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism. Floyd’s death sparked demonstrations and kneel-ins on the Island as well. Island police chiefs issued a joint statement last month expressing their “shock and dismay at the senseless murder of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis.”

Some national and local demonstrations have also called for defunding the police, which does not necessarily mean getting rid of police, but means reducing police budgets and reallocating funds to social services like education, public health, housing, and youth services, with the idea that investing in communities acts as a better deterrent to crime. 

Inquiries about Island police budgets came up at Oak Bluffs and Edgartown annual town meetings.

In other business, it’s time to switch out the light bulbs in Edgartown.

Speaking to selectmen Monday, energy committee member Alan Strahler presented selectmen with an update on the energy audit being conducted by the committee. According to Strahler, a $102,000 investment would yield a $42,000 yearly cost reduction in electricity with state incentive.

The committee performed energy audits on town buildings such as the library, police department, town hall, highway department, water department, fire department, wastewater department, and the harbormaster’s office. The audits were funded by a Department of Energy Resources grant. Audits on the elementary school and Council on Aging have been paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the library alone, by replacing fluorescent lighting with LED bulbs and upgrading faucet aerators, the town would save $2,500 annually. In total, replacing the lights and faucets would cost $8,800, but an $8,800 incentive from Cape Light Compact would cover the cost of the replacements.

“That is to say, the incentive equals the cost, so this is all free, so at the earliest convenience we could do this and start saving $2,500 a year for the building,” Strahler said.

With more than $59,000 in incentives from Cape Light Compact, the program would pay for itself in just over four years. 

This all comes as the town is working to achieve Green Community status, which gives towns a roadmap and financial support if they reduce energy consumption and support renewable energy projects, among other criteria.

Selectman Arthur Smadbeck thanked Strahler and the committee for putting together the data. “It’s an amazing amount of work you’ve put into this so far, and I’m gratefully appreciative of what you’ve done,” Smadbeck said.

Selectmen also approved promoting Officer Will Bishop to sergeant. Bishop graduated from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He has been a patrol officer in Edgartown for the past 10 years, and before that was a traffic officer. 

Several Edgartown restaurants got town approval Monday for outdoor dining as part of the town’s attempt to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edgartown Diner, 19 Raw Oyster Bar, the Port Hunter, Rockfish, and the Wharf will all be using some town property to expand seating outdoors. The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn, Détente, the Atlantic, Seafood Shanty, and Atria will also have outdoor seating, but on their properties. 

The town also received $68,000 in CARES Act funds for COVID-19-related reimbursements. Overall, the town has identified $382,912 as COVID-related expenses. Town administrator James Hagery thanked town accountant Amy Tierney for putting together the COVID-19 expenses and submitting them to the state.

Updated to correct state’s $382,912 for Edgartown.  —Ed.


  1. Defund the police, the only intervening they will be doing is stopping each other from napping; use the saved cash to pay for the energy saving bulbs. That’s a two for the price of one savings! Then everyone can get a nice tax break in Edgartown.

  2. How many Full Time Equivalent police officers should Edgartown have?
    Should they all have guns?
    How many cars?

  3. You’re giving me an opportunity, Fangs. I’m game to debate you, nicely. Anyway, congratulations to our new Sergeant William Bishop. He’s come a long way since he was traffic officer, Willie the Kid. He made my job easy. Willie the Mayor is a charmer. He convinced the Chappy Ferry line hot-heads to enjoy the experience. He made me laugh too. Willie earned his promotion.

    • I look forward to our debate. You were always known as a master debater, I hope your shirts are still well starched to hold you up.

  4. I firmly support the Edgartown Police Department over all the decades I have known them. They are professional and knowledgeable and do their sworn duty to a T….leave my Edgartown Police alone, please. And, if you do not live in Edgartown, please remove your proboscis ( yes, I know, a bit of whimsy and inaccuracy there) from this comment section.

  5. What happens when I (not a police officer) break laws? How about when an officer breaks the law, he or she pays the same price I would, in fact make it double. He or she put their hand on the good book at the state house in front of the public and took a vow to serve and protect the citizens as well as to do anything in their power to up hold the constitution. If these men and woman were truly honorable people they would have always stepped in when a fellow officer wasn’t doing their job correctly and wouldn’t need a new bill to make that possible. I have big doubts that these “brothers and sisters” in blue will do the right thing. Defund. Meet the demands of the public (the people that are supposed to be protected, the same people who pays every officers salary) and start over with newly trained officers.

    • You are clearly not a Police Officer, if you were you would know that by their nature they do not break the law.

      • You clearly do not know any police officers. If you did, you would know that a good amount of them constantly break the law.

  6. Now add body cameras and laws that make it a serious crime to obstruct or tamper with said body cameras.

  7. Defund the police is a fool’s slogan. Nothing wrong with identifying areas of improvement but to tear it down for no reason other than to make a point is foolish. Look, there are lots of ways to improve law enforcement. First, stop making them the “tax collectors” for towns, cities and states. What I mean is quotas, tickets for the sake of tickets is done throughout the US. Stop it immediately. Police Officers should interact with the public when necessary, not when the municipality needs fines to balance their budget. Also, let’s work on changing the entire structure of policing. Stop the quasi military structure, it’s unnecessary today. But, do not think for one minute that police aren’t necessary or we can police ourselves, we can’t. Instead of defunding, let’s try revising. Many of our officers have done the right thing and are willing when called upon to put their lives at risk, let’s honor that. Can they do better, of course, but we can both support and demand change at the same time.

    • By ‘defund’ they do not mean disbanding the police.
      Just not fund things like pepper spray, flash bangs, tear gas, batons, 15 round magazines, water cannons, assault rifles, choke hold training, that kind of thing.

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