O.B. Police Chief Erik Blake to retire

The 35-year veteran of the Oak Bluffs police department receives praise from select board.

Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake has announced his intention to retire. - Gabrielle Mannino

Longtime Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake is set to retire on June 30, the Oak Bluffs select board announced at a Zoom meeting Tuesday.

Reading from a press release, select board chair Brian Packish said Blake is retiring after a 35-year career in law enforcement.

Blake began his law enforcement tenure in 1987 when he was hired as a summer special officer for the town. In 1988 he was hired as a year-round officer. In 2000 he was promoted to sergeant, lieutenant in December of 2002, and acting chief in January of 2003. Later, in July 2003, he was made the permanent chief.

“Chief Blake has amassed a significant number of accomplishments and accolades. He proudly served or continues to serve in the following roles: president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association since 2014, International Association of Chiefs of Police executive committee from 2009-2014 and 2019-2022,International Association of Chiefs of Police civil rights committee from 2006-2017,International Association of Chiefs of Police community policing committee 2007-2022, president of the Southeastern Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association since 2008,” Packish said in part.

Blake also helped the police department receive certification with the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.

Blake will work with the board to find his replacement and ensure a “smooth transition,” Packish said.

Additionally, each board member praised Blake for his service to the town.

“We’ve been lucky to have him. We have giant shoes to fill as well move forward,” Packish said. “We wish you all the luck.”

Select board member Gail Barmakian noted Blake’s involvement in other civic causes on the Island. Blake was president of the Island’s chapter of the NAACP.

Select board member Jason Balboni noted the chief’s efforts in helping the town hire a new fire chief. Select board member Emma Green-Beach said she was excited to see how he would continue to serve the community going forward.

“He was a big piece of advancing policing over the last 20 years. His leadership will be missed down there I know by the troops,” select board member and Edgartown Police Officer Ryan Ruley said. “What he didn’t put in the press release was that he was a damn good softball player in the men’s league. The man could hit a softball a country mile.”

Blake thanked the board and reflected on his three plus decades of service.

“Wow 1987, that was 35 years ago. I had a lot of brown hair then,” he joked. “I’ve loved every minute of being police chief and I really believe I’ve left the department in good order and they’re ready to move forward. It’s time for the next generation to take over. I’ve been very proud of everything I’ve done and very proud of the men and women that have worked for me.”

Ruley later said Blake’s decision did not come as a shock to the board and he had been mulling his options for a while.

Blake’s retirement comes weeks after the department was embroiled in controversy over a missing assault rifle that was later found. An independent investigation led to the resignation of longtime Police Sergeant Michael Marchand and also a recommendation by the investigator that the department upgrade its record keeping for firearms.

In other business, town administrator Deb Potter informed the board that construction crews will be pouring sidewalks Feb. 9 through Feb. 11 on Circuit Ave. as part of the town’s streetscape project. People are being advised to not use de-icing chemicals as it can damage the sidewalks. Instead people can use sand for traction. Packish suggested business owners be informed to not pour de-icing chemicals.

The board approved a request by the Oceanview Restaurant to be closed from Feb. 15 to March 8 for repairs.


  1. Congratulations & Happy Retirement.

    The timing seems suspicious though for it to be happening just weeks after the Marchand debacle. My question to the Chief is: are you going to discipline the ACTUAL officer who had the gun at his house off island during the academy? After reading the retirement letter it seems that a Chief with such an accomplished career spanning 35 years should be competent enough to find out where the gun was housed during the time period it was unaccounted for… and then discipline the CORRECT offending officer.

    Don’t leave this mess for the next Chief to clean up.

      • It should be properly signed back in and returned promptly after gun training is complete… and not unaccounted for years later.

        Read up on the previous article and you will see how Special Michael Maliff Made-off with the gun for class and has very little memory about his actions regarding when/if/who he would have returned it to. The gun even had Maliffs name written on it… and yet Sgt. Marchand was shown the door.

        • Signing the gun in and out is the recruits responsibility? How about it’s the department’s administration that is responsible for the record’s keeping of equipment. I’m pretty sure a recruit can not just walk into the department and take a firearm out on his own. Also, since there is no records of the serial number of the weapon how do we know that the weapon that was missing is the same rifle that the recruit had at training?

  2. I commend Chief Bleak for his impending retirement! It is much better than hanging on like a barnacle on a piling, essentially being irritating and not much use. His tenure as the manager of the police department has seen its share of controversies, much like the sister village of Tisbury. Culminating with an unsolved mystery of the missing firearm and the inability to discipline the correct individual for the situation. He has thirty five years of experience and apparently has forgotten most of the basics from the beginning, of course he had help with this from his ‘private eye’ friend… no answers, just more questions for a case I’m sure the Hardy Boys or Scooby Doo Gang in their van could have solved in thirty minutes or less. Let’s hope the town is able to replace this position with someone who will actually lead and turn the police department into an entity of trust, because right now there are about sixteen possible suspects who could have stolen a rifle. If they will steal from the department they will steal from anyone, anywhere.

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