Chief Saloio announces retirement from Tisbury PD

Contract talks had stalled between the chief and town.

Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio has decided to retire effective Nov. 5.

Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio has announced his retirement, effective Nov. 5.

In a letter to town leaders Monday morning, Saloio thanked the town for the opportunity to serve as chief, said it was time for him to move on from law enforcement, and noted his accomplishments in preparing the department for state certification. In the letter, he cited updating the department’s systems, instituting regular equipment and personnel inspections, and “modernizing the agency” as among his accomplishments.

“I am extremely proud of the capable group of officers that we have working for the Tisbury Police Department,” Saloio wrote. “I am very grateful for their consistent and steady support. We have a great group of people within the police department, and I hope that they continue to have your support. I am confident that this organization will build on the significant progress we have achieved in the past three years, and continue to have success and safety in the future.”

In a conversation with The Times, Saloio said the department is set up well for the next chief. “I’m proud of what we’ve done in a short period of time, and hopefully someone will continue with the progress made, and the agency has a successful future,” Saloio said.

Saloio had been in negotiations with the town for a new contract, and it’s unclear what the holdup was in those talks. In recent months, the Tisbury select board had met several times in executive session to talk about the chief’s contract. At a rare Friday night meeting on April 30, the board voted to extend Saloio’s contract on the advice of the town’s attorney as a key deadline approached. That provided the select board six months to continue negotiations instead of voting not to renew it.

Saloio was not at that meeting.

“Sometimes things don’t go ideally as planned, or as I would have hoped, but that did not have a significant influence on what I ultimately decided to do,” he said. “I’ve made the decision to do this for what I believe is in my family’s best interest in the future.”

Town administrator Jay Grande said the retirement wasn’t generated from negotiations with Saloio: “I think this was something he was contemplating, and obviously he made me aware of it.”

Grande said it will be important as the town now works to transition to new leadership that Saloio’s work and initiatives are carried forward. Grande said he was “grateful” he will have Saloio’s input on the future of the department, and that there will be time to consider options. He anticipated the selection of Saloio’s successor would be a “very detailed, very thoughtful process.”

Speaking for town staff and the select board, who were notified Monday, Grande said, “I know we all wish him the best.” 

Asked if there are plans to return to talks with Oak Bluffs about a police merger, Grande said, “There’s ample time” to have that discussion. “I think that’s very speculative at this point,” he added. 

Select board chair Jim Rogers said he wanted more time to assess the situation before providing comment. 

Asked what the sticking point was in negotiations, select board member Larry Gomez said, “We don’t have a sticking point.” He said he could not comment on the board’s discussions in executive session. 

“I don’t know him that well,” Gomez said of Saloio. “He was appointed before I was elected.”

Select board member Jeff Kristal did not return a call seeking comment.

Tisbury Police Union Vice President Charles Duquette said the department has improved under Saloio. “We do appreciate everything he has done for the department,” Duquette said. “We wish Chief Saloio the best in his endeavors personally and professionally.” 

Concerning Saloio’s successor, whoever it is, Duquette said, “the union would like to be part of the selection process.” Duquette stressed it was “important for the union to have a voice.”

Concerning the union, Grande said, “I look forward to sitting down with the group, as the select board does as well.”

The chief’s two-plus years at the helm of the Tisbury Police Department have had their share of controversy. Saloio first demoted Lt. Eerik Meisner to sergeant, and then fired him just months after taking over. Meisner settled a federal lawsuit for wrongful termination, with the town agreeing to pay him $400,000. The department is also the focus of another federal lawsuit by former Officer Kindia Roman, who claims she was discriminated against because she is a Hispanic, gay woman. Saloio is named in that suit.

Saloio’s decision to fire a school crossing guard made national headlines, and the public outcry forced the town to reinstate Stephen Nichols to his post.

Saloio declined to comment on those issues, and instead focused on the positive steps taken during his tenure. The department is in the certification process — the step before accreditation — on key issues like use of force, policy and procedures, hiring, and recruitment, he said. “We have completely updated our agency’s policies and procedures,” Saloio said. “We’ve worked together as a team. We have also maintained a level of staffing in the police department which had not been seen in years, with little or no turnover.”

Other pluses, Saloio said, include being the first department to introduce two hybrid cruisers on the Island and updating the service weapons used by officers, something that hadn’t been done in 20 years.

“We’ve done a complete, itemized, evidence inventory project, which encompassed our entire evidence room and scanning in documents,” he said. “We’ve taken a lot of steps forward in modernizing the agency. I say ‘we’ because I didn’t do this alone.”

Saloio, who was previously with the Sturbridge Police Department, took the helm of the Tisbury Police Department in November 2018 after being the lone finalist for the job. He took over for Daniel Hanavan, who had not been offered a new contract by the select board. Hanavan was given a one-year contract just ahead of Saloio’s hiring, which meant the town was paying two police chiefs for the bulk of the year. Saloio inherited a dysfunctional department that was the byproduct of a meddling select board.

During his interview for the job, Saloio had his sights set on being around longer. “My plans are to be the Tisbury Police chief for as long as the community wants me … I could retire now, but couldn’t collect a pension for seven years.”

Saloio is nearly 51 years old. His contract allows him to give just 60 days notice, but he agreed to stay through November because of what’s expected to be a busy summer season on the Island. “The respectful thing to do is stay on through November and get us through the high season,” he said.

As for what he plans to do next, Saloio said he’s got some options, but nothing is certain. “There are a couple of opportunities post-November that I’m not willing to speak of for now, for understandable reasons,” he said. “The future is optimistic.”

Reporter Rich Saltzberg contributed to this story.


  1. Very satisfied with this development, but dreading what horrors will emerge next from the irredeemably flawed Tisbury Police Department.

    Turn off the lights, close the shop, lock the doors, and end the cycle of incompetence, abuse, liability, unprofessionalism, and naked idiocy this department continually generates.


  2. Retire, hardly he has been shown where the ferry docks and been given a reservation. He has saved himself the embarrassment of forcing the three blind mice to vote him out after all the trouble he has caused. He is solely responsible for the largest pay out to an individual employed by Tisbury, there’s a nice sentiment to ruminate on in his ‘retirement’. We should also not forget he still has at least one more action pending against him and his sergeant sherman, I’m sure that will not end well for them or the town. It should be interesting to watch the rest of the good ship Tisbury break apart on the rocks of idiocy.

  3. After all the damage Saloio presided over in his years in Tisbury, I was thinking an apology to the citizens would be more appropriate.
    Saloio leaves in his wake a lawless department, the legacy of which is a stack of lawsuits still to be sorted out.
    This sounds impolite, but good riddance.

  4. It warms my heart to see the outpouring love for the finest Police Chief the Island has ever known. Will the Selectman commission a statue, perhaps mounted like our Civil War Heroes?

    • Albert, you can guess the legacy of Saloio’s years will be a Prop 2 1/2 over ride to pay off where liability insurance ends, combined with a hike in Tisburys rates to insurers.
      Plus a likely settlement to Sherman to end his contract early, to sweep him out the door.
      Yes, Saloio is the gift that keeps on giving.

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