What happened to Danielle Clermont when she was a candidate for a job as a Tisbury Police officer in 2017 was wrong. What happened to her when she was a candidate for a job as a Westwood Police officer is disgraceful, and shows a pattern of behavior in the Tisbury Police Department that needs to be rooted out.
Clermont, by all accounts, was a top police recruit as she graduated from the Boston Police Academy. Sponsored by then-Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Hanavan, she was given the opportunity to follow her passion, with no guarantee of a job after she graduated. Still, she proudly wore the Tisbury Police uniform to her graduation, and seemed destined to land a job on her hometown department.
She applied for jobs in both Tisbury and Westwood. She was interviewed by a panel in Tisbury, and when it was apparent that she had done enough to get hired in Tisbury, she withdrew from pursuing the Westwood job. Hanavan told her she was on the select board’s agenda to be appointed. He told her how to dress, and where to go for what amounted to a formality of the select board approving her hiring. The board, which serves as police commissioners, is the hiring authority for the police department, but they rarely go against the chief.
Clermont’s name did appear on the select board agenda, but on the day of the meeting, her name disappeared on the revised agenda. The story she was told is that the town was under a “hiring freeze” — a similar story to what Kindia Roman was told when she tried to rejoin the department. Funny how those hiring freezes just happen to pop up when there’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering.
That’s an awful thing to do to a promising job candidate, and is most certainly a lost opportunity for the department. What happened next is worse, and should be investigated by an independent investigator — similar to what Edgartown did when they investigated allegations against Sgt. Craig Edwards.
With her job prospect having vanished in Tisbury, Clermont went back to Westwood and revived her candidacy there. During the hiring process, someone from Tisbury Police called the Westwood chief about an incident years earlier, while Clermont was a teenager. She appeared in court for the trial of a family friend; when he was found guilty (a charge that was later overturned on appeal), Clermont inappropriately lashed out at the victim in the case. She was found in contempt of court, and went to jail for 20 days.
There was just one problem for the unidentified Tisbury Police officer hell-bent on sabotaging Clermont’s job prospects in Westwood with an unsolicited phone call. Clermont was upfront about what happened in the courtroom when she was interviewed in Westwood, and showed remorse. The police chief there saw her transparency as a demonstration of honesty, and the Tisbury officer’s phone call as character assassination.
Even though the smear attempt backfired and she was hired by Westwood, it’s inappropriate and intolerable.
This would be bad enough if it were an isolated incident, but in a federal lawsuit filed two weeks ago, Kindia Roman, a former Tisbury Police sergeant, alleges that her job prospects in Walpole were also sabotaged. She had been told by that chief, according to her lawsuit, that she should “go ahead” and rent an apartment. That’s when she alleges that Max Sherman, now a Tisbury Police sergeant, called the chief in Walpole, and Roman would be told she was no longer being considered for a job there. When she attempted to return to Tisbury — even though select board member Melinda Loberg said she was happy to see her back at a public meeting — Roman was frozen out. You guessed it, another hiring freeze — this time allegedly so the next chief could hire as many of his own officers as possible.
Eventually, Chief Mark Saloio was hired, and he pushed Lt. Eerik Meisner, a friend of Roman’s, out of the department — first demoting him and then firing him. That federal lawsuit cost the town and the town’s insurance company $400,000 to settle, and further besmirched the reputation of the department.
Now the town faces a legal battle with Roman.
Before he left the department, Meisner had investigated Roman’s claim about sabotage, and found it credible. He brought it to then-Chief Hanavan, and it went nowhere. When Saloio was hired, then he fired Meisner, promoted Sherman, and the Roman investigation was abandoned.
It’s time for the Tisbury select board, which acts as police commissioners, to call for an outside, independent investigation to restore the public’s faith in the department.