The Oak Bluffs Police Department has recovered the Bushmaster M-4 rifle that was found to be missing in October, according to a press release. The matter is still being investigated.
“As previously reported, on or about Oct. 25, 2021, it was determined that an Oak Bluffs Police Department M-4 patrol rifle appeared to be missing. Chief Erik Blake has reported that the weapon has been recovered, and is therefore not an issue to public safety. As this is still an ongoing investigation and an ongoing personnel matter, no further comment is available,” the release, signed by select board chair Brian Packish, states.
The rifle was checked out nearly three years ago, and was discovered missing after a routine inventory.
After the gun was designated missing, the town launched an independent investigation, and placed an unnamed police department employee who checked out the gun on paid administrative leave. The select board’s last three meetings have included executive sessions to “discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual, and not to reconvene in open session.”
The Times has asked about those proceedings, but has been told they remain confidential.
Police Chief Erik Blake previously told The Times the gun was semiautomatic and a “.223 caliber patrol rifle,” and is commonly referred to as an assault rifle.
The Oak Bluffs rifle was the second gun to go missing from an Island police department that has come to light this year.
In Tisbury, records uncovered by The Times reveal a Glock handgun went missing from the Tisbury Police Department armory. A former sergeant and a former chief each said the other was last to be in possession of it. While former Tisbury Police Chief Mark Saloio suggested the town should hire an outside investigator to get to the bottom of the situation, the town didn’t do so.
His successor, Tisbury Police Chief Chris Habekost, later told The Times he didn’t think the situation warranted an outside investigation. That gun hasn’t been found.
Records requests made by The Times also revealed the Tisbury Police Department hired a Chilmark Police officer who allegedly stole a gun that had been turned in to the Chilmark Police Station for destruction. An internal investigation found that officer lied to Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan about the incident. The officer was given a suspension, and later promoted to sergeant, after which he falsely arrested a man, based largely on the way he walked.