A .40 caliber Glock pistol is missing from the Tisbury Police Department. The pistol, which is town property, was reported missing “on or about July 2017,” according to a memo obtained by The Times through a public record request.
The memo is from recently sidelined Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio. Chief Saloio recently announced his retirement from the Tisbury Police Department after a short tenure. He planned to stay at the helm until November, but the town’s select board installed Sgt. Christopher Habekost as acting chief on July 7, and placed Saloio on administrative leave in good standing.
Dated Oct. 19, 2019, Saloio’s memo was sent to Tisbury town administrator Jay Grande. Saloio informed Grande that he learned about the missing pistol through a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) inquiry that came via the Dukes County Sheriff’s Department.
“There is an unaccounted-for firearm, registered to the Tisbury Police Department, somewhere in the public domain,” Saloio wrote.
Saloio recommended hiring an “outside investigational firm” to look into the matter. It’s unclear if such an investigation ever took place.
When asked about the missing gun, Grande said, “I believe it was resolved in some manner to the satisfaction of the police chief or chiefs.” However, as Grande continued to talk, he admitted to being unsure about the matter.
When portions of Saloio’s memo were read back to him, Grande said, “Obviously I would rely on his recommendation.”
Grande was unable to say whether an external investigation was undertaken, and insisted it would have been up to Chief Saloio to move forward on such a thing. He said he would confer with Habekost on the matter.
Habekost couldn’t immediately be reached by phone for comment. Habekost also hasn’t responded to a number of general and specific email questions sent to him on July 5.
One of those questions was about the missing firearm.
Saloio told The Times on Monday that the town wasn’t interested in hiring an outside investigator, and to his knowledge, an outside investigation never took place.
Reports from a former Tisbury sergeant and a former Tisbury chief conflict on who last had possession of the pistol. The reports, also obtained through a public records request, show former Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan denied he ever took possession of the pistol, while former Tisbury Police Sgt. Tim Stobie stated the weapon was brought to the chief in his office.
Reached Monday, Stobie, who retired from the department in 2017, told The Times he gave the pistol to Hanavan, and Hanavan “wore it for a few years.” Stobie, who had been the armorer for the department, said, “It wasn’t me.”
In police departments, armorers manage and maintain firearms and equipment.
Reached on Friday, Hanavan, who retired in 2018, initially had nothing to say. “I’m going to have to go with no comment on that,” he said.
Later, Hanavan called back to say he would comment on Monday, and did. “I decided not to use that gun because it was too small, and I put it back in the armory,” he said.
Hanavan said he never shot the pistol. “I never took the gun out of the station,” he said.
Stobie’s report, which is dated August 23, 2017, indicates the pistol was provided to Hanavan in 2015. The report was approved by Habekost, a sergeant at the time, who ultimately became the department’s armorer. Hanavan’s report, which is also dated August 23, 2017, indicates that in 2013 he and Stobie “discussed the possibility” of equipping Havavan with a smaller Glock pistol.
Hanavan’s report states Stobie told him, “I don’t know where the gun is” in June 2017. Both reports show a request was made by Hanavan to report the pistol lost or missing, and that the deed was accomplished. Stobie’s report indicates that he reported the Glock to NCIC, via the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services. Hanavan’s report was approved by former Tisbury Police Sgt. Kindia Roman. Roman has an active federal lawsuit against the department, Saloio, and Tisbury Police Sgt. Max Sherman. The suit alleges discrimination, among other things.
In his memo, Saloio informed Grande that the pistol was previously issued to former Tisbury Police Chief Ted Saulnier.
In a follow-up memo to Grande sent in November, 2019, Saloio wrote that he had instructed the department sergeants to look through “the entire interior of the [p]olice department in search of the missing firearm.”
Saloio told Grande the pistol was not located. He noted a similar search had been conducted in 2017.