Habekost set to lead Tisbury PD

Grande says there’s no acceleration to Saloio’s exodus.

Sgt. Chris Habekost, shown here attending the 2018 police academy graduation, will be the subject of select board meeting aimed at appointing him interim chief.

The Tisbury select board has posted a special meeting for Wednesday with only one agenda item, the appointment of interim Police Chief Chris Habekost.

The meeting’s a surprise, since the board met on Monday with no inkling of holding a meeting again until July 13. Additionally, Police Chief Mark Saloio, when he announced his retirement, told The Times he intended to stay at the helm of the department through November. 

It’s unclear what changed between Saloio and the town’s leadership. Neither Saloio nor the three select board members — chair Jeff Kristal, Larry Gomez, and Roy Cutrer Jr. — returned calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Reached in Naples, Fla., where he is vacationing, town administrator Jay Grande described Habekost as “a wonderful candidate” who has long served the Tisbury Police Department. 

“I’m really thrilled I have a strong person to put forward to the select board,” Grande said.

Asked why the process of replacing Chief Saloio has accelerated, Grande insisted, “There’s no acceleration.” He said the special meeting was necessary for all parties to be able to meet in person. He further said timing wasn’t his call, describing it as a “select board decision.”

Grande said the meeting will be open and executed with “transparency.”

Next steps, he said, “will all be determined by Chris, the select board, and myself. It will be very organic.”

Asked if the union was on board, Grande said, “I’ve been in communications with the union representation, and everyone speaks highly of him. They support this candidacy strongly.”

Grande said in general terms that appointing Habekost puts the town in a good position to plan what next steps to take in terms of a search for a permanent chief. The select board has had no discussions about that process publicly.

Habekost told The Times Friday he couldn’t immediately comment because he was engaged in an event detail.

Saloio announced his retirement in a letter to the select board on May 17 after he failed to reach a contract agreement with the town. The select board had offered him a one-year deal, which one retired chief described as “setting the table for dismissal.” 

During his time as chief, Saloio prepared the department for state certification, updated the department’s systems, instituting regular equipment and personal inspections as well as “modernizing the agency.”

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.

Grande was asked if the town intends to hire a lieutenant, as well. “We’ve had that discussion, and that’s a likely outcome,” he said.


  1. Well, here we go again…..
    It’s astounding
    Time is fleeting
    Madness takes its toll
    But listen closely
    Not for very much longer
    I’ve got to keep control
    I remember doing the Time Warp
    Drinking those moments when
    The blackness would hit me
    And the void would be calling
    Let’s do the Time Warp again
    Let’s do the Time Warp again
    It’s just a jump to the left
    And then a step to the right
    With your hands on your hips
    You bring your knees in tight
    But it’s the pelvic thrust
    That really drives you insane
    Let’s do the Time Warp again
    Let’s do the Time Warp again
    It’s so dreamy
    Oh, fantasy free me
    So you can’t see me
    No, not at all
    In another dimension
    With voyeuristic intention
    I see all
    With a bit of a mind flip
    You’re into the time slip
    And nothing can ever be the same
    You’re spaced out on…

  2. Maybe now as we near the third anniversary of that black stain on the TPD they have deliberately refused to deal with, Chief Habekost on his first day can reopen this shameful episode.
    Then, Chief Habekost could call up Kindia Roman’s attorney and settle, with an apology.
    Then look up Eerik Meisner’s phone number, delivering to him an apology.
    And let’s not forget those hardworking citizens at Ackee Tree, who deserve better than they have been given.
    I am sure I have missed dozens of first day priorities for Chief Habekost.
    Best of luck in your new post.

    • It’s not up to him to apologize for the actions of others. It’s up to him to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

      • It is up to him to apologize to the people of Tisbury for the atrocious operation of the Tisbury Police Department over the last few years.
        He has been part of the operation for years.

  3. Congratulations to the Times for finding a photo of ‘Acting Chief’ Habekost outside of TPD’s clubhouse.

    I suppose we should be happy that at least Sergeants Gobble & Slewfoot weren’t elevated?
    Kudos to the Tisbury selectman for choosing a compliant careerist over thugs.

    Nice to see that a long career of shuffling papers and sharpening pencils will be rewarded with a sweet bump up to the pension.
    Is there a box to check on the performance review that says “Good Ol’ Boy”?

    The Tisbury Police Department would be a joke, if it wasn’t such a disaster.

    The department needs to be put in receivership, then eliminated, and ultimately replaced by a Martha’s Vineyard Law-Enforcement District REGIONAL police force.

    Wake up, folks: When they say “Protect and Serve”, they’re not talking about YOU.

  4. Congrats Chris, I’m sure that you will lead the department with honesty and integrity!

  5. Chief Habekost would be best choice for the job. He has proven he will not leave and abandon the town or make hasty rash decisions.

  6. Oh, yes a hearty congratulations to Chief Halfacop! It must be nice being chosen to be a stand in until they a ‘new Chief’. This town just passes on the insults!!!! I hope this doesn’t bring anymore lawsuits crashing down on the heads of the taxpayers!

  7. Great choice, I hope he gets the permanent position. A police officer that knows the community is worth his weight in gold

  8. Grande: “there is no acceleration to Saloio’s exodus.”
    Apparently there is no acceleration by the Board of Selectmen to provide meaningful oversight upon that other “exodus”, the growing list of former TPD Officers departing the Water St Station, straight to their attorneys office.

  9. In all seriousness, the simple fact that Sgt. Habekost has somehow managed to survive the idiocy of the Tisbury Police should bring some strong reservations as to his being chosen. He has been a member of the department for over twenty years, he is a ‘leader’ and ‘manager’ within the agency and has been so during much of the nonsense which has brought this department it’s horrible reputation. While many leaders were chewed up and spit, he has remained. This makes him a common denominator in the issues that have plagued this institution. He has had to have been aware of many of the situations, yet based on his continued employment has clearly never taken a stand to stop any of the nefarious issues/deeds. This makes him part of the problem, not a solution, he is simply an ostrich hiding his head in the sand rather than face the actual issues at hand. While we can all wish him luck and praise his longevity the biggest questions remains, as a sergeant, a leader, a manager, what the hell has he been doing to stop any of this nonsense? I believe Mr. Langhamer and Mr. Kozac are correct, time to close up the shop and regionalize. There aren’t any golden nuggets in that building that can change its direction. Shame on the selectmen and shame on the Grande for not doing their jobs. As far as Saloio goes…. He’s running outta here so fast he should be on the US Olympic sprinting team.

  10. You’ve hit the nail on the head with the key issue of “Acting Chief I, Claudius”’s inadequacy:

    What, EXACTLY, was Habekost doing while the Tisbury Police Department was destroying the public’s confidence that they were capable of anything but intra-office backstabbing, creating a toxic culture, gross mismanagement, becoming a DON’T! chapter in a future Human Resources manual, and civil rights abuses?

    Heartening to see more and more members of our community have the courage to say publicly what so many have whispered privately for years: The Tisbury Police Department is an irredeemable flop, incapable of conducting its mission, and powerful people in the Town of Tisbury have allowed, and continue to allow, this s***show to continue, unaware or unconcerned of the harm, not to mention the potentially HUGE liability, these arrogant, entitled, and ARMED Keystone Klowns expose Tisbury taxpayers to, every day they are allowed to continue operating.



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