Updated Sept. 28
Following a public records request by the Martha’s Vineyard Times, Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren has unearthed previously unavailable records focused on Jeff Day, a former Chilmark Police officer and Tisbury Police sergeant. In response to earlier records requests by The Times, town officials, including Klaren, claimed the records could not be found.
The records provide greater insight into a vehicle search allegedly manipulated by Day. As The Times previously reported, Day allegedly stole a .25 caliber pistol while at the Chilmark Police Department. Similar to that incident, Day’s truthfulness was called into question regarding the vehicle matter.
Day resigned from the Chilmark Police Department in July 2012, after he was questioned by former Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi about the pistol and the vehicle search. Day went on to work for the Tisbury Police Department. Day left the Tisbury Police Department in May of this year in the wake of allegations of untruthfulness and false arrest, and with a Brady-Giglio motion hanging over his head in Edgartown District Court. Based on case law and sometimes simply known as the Brady rule, Brady-Giglio requires prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence, including evidence regarding the credibility of a witness that would be helpful to a defendant. The Times has pursued Day’s records both in Chilmark and Tisbury. Tisbury previously resisted handing over Day’s internal investigation records, but ultimately capitulated after appeals were made to the state’s supervisor of records. Chilmark claimed not to have the records. The Times first requested the records by email in June 2020, and then again in July 2020. Additional requests were made by phone.
In a June 16, 2020, email to The Times, Chief Klaren wrote that he “was not in possession” of internal investigation material focused on Day.
“I have checked the internal investigation (IA) folder left behind by the previous police chief, and there are zero papers mentioning Jeff Day,” Klaren wrote.
Klaren also wrote that personnel files of former officers “were sent to the town hall prior to my becoming chief.”
He suggested contacting the town clerk or the town administrator.
On July 14, in response to a request for small-caliber firearms records, Klaren sent a photograph of the pistol Day allegedly stole and then returned. The pistol was in a clear evidence bag.
Also on July 14, 2020, Klaren reiterated his position on Day’s records — he didn’t have them.
“I am not in possession of Jeff Day’s personnel file, or any previous full-time Chilmark Police officers, for that matter,” Klaren wrote, “I did review the Internal Affairs (IA) file left behind by the previous chief, and that file does not contain any document(s) involving Jeff Day.”
In a series of emails in July and August 2020, Chilmark town administrator Tim Carroll wrote that emails relative to the matter, specifically emails between former Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan and Chief Cioffi regarding Jeff Day, depending on their date, either couldn’t be found or had been deleted.
In October 2020, town clerk Jennifer Christy told The Times via email her department had no internal investigation records of Jeff Day.
This August, The Times learned public records watchdog Andrew Quemere appealed a fee estimate from the town of Chilmark over a request for police internal investigation records. The Times requested those records, and received Jeff Day’s internal investigation material.
In September, The Times asked Klaren and other town officials how the records materialized.
“That’s a fair question,” Klaren emailed. “This is what happened on my end: After I was appointed chief in 2017, I was told that all the police department’s personnel files were taken from the police station and brought to the town hall. There [was] an Internal Affairs (IA) file left in the chief’s office, but it did not contain any documents on Jeff Day.
“The DA’s office made the same request as [The Times] did for Jeff Day’s records, and received the same response. In October 2021, while I was looking for a new citation book in the records/storage area at the police station, I discovered a file box that contained the police department’s personnel files. This box contained Jeff Day’s file. I made a copy and sent it to the DA’s office (it was my understanding they had an upcoming court date). It was unbeknownst to me that the records that [The Times] had previously requested were actually stored in the Chilmark Police Station.”
Bottom line, The Times had to request the records again in order to receive them, even though the chief found the records he once told the newspaper he didn’t have.
What the records show
Among other things, Day’s Chilmark internal investigation records contain a Chilmark Police report concerning the 2012 towing of a vehicle that “upset” former Chief Cioffi, according to a 2014 letter Cioffi sent to former Tisbury Police Chief Dan Hanavan. Cioffi suggested in the letter that Day duped the owner of the vehicle, and “lied” both to him and to a West Tisbury Police corporal about circumstances relative to the towing of that vehicle. Specifically, Cioffi outlined an allegation that Day kept a vehicle owner from retrieving her car, and instead had it towed so its contents could be inventoried, and in doing so, apparently compensate for warrantless vehicle search that might have lacked probable cause.
According to the letter, a woman had loaned her car to a man named Jason Willoughby for a short period of time, and he hadn’t returned it in a timely manner. In light of this, she informed the Chilmark Police Department. West Tisbury Police, who assisted, found the vehicle with Willoughby at the wheel, and arrested him for driving with a suspended license and drug possession. The woman subsequently expressed thanks for the recovery of the vehicle, but questioned why it was towed at a cost of $200, according to the letter.
“She stated that the vehicle was towed by the police, and that Officer Day advised her that because it was used in a crime (narcotics found inside during search) that it was required to be towed,” the letter states.
Cioffi rang the West Tisbury Police Department and learned, according to then-Cpl. Garrison Vieira, “that Officer Day advised him that he had no contact information for the owner, as her cell phone was in the vehicle,” the letter states.
However, Officer Elizabeth Gebo (who appears in related records with the surname Elwell), told Cioffi that Day and West Tisbury Police Det. Rusty Ventura had concerns over evidence “and whether it was found correctly,” according to the letter. Gebo told Cioffi, according to the letter, that she had misgivings about towing the vehicle. She also said Day had given the vehicle owner a ride home to an address “just up the street.”
Upon speaking with Vieira in person, Cioffi was told again Day allegedly didn’t know where the vehicle owner lived, and, according to the letter, that Vieira “did not want to tow the vehicle …”
Day’s police report and a memo from him to Cioffi both clearly indicate Day knew the vehicle owner’s home address, as it is provided in both documents.
Cioffi later spoke with Day and informed him Gebo and Vieira’s accounts conflict with his. Eventually, according to the letter, Day admitted he fabricated inability to contact the vehicle owner and lack of knowledge of where she lived “because if West Tisbury towed the vehicle, they could use the tow inventory and the narcotics that were located in the vehicle would definitely be covered for the purpose of a good search.”
“At the end of the conversation, Jeff admitted to lying to me and to Cpl. Vieira,” the letter states.
Prior to receipt of the records discovered by Chief Klaren, The Times only had a batch of records from the Tisbury Police Department. Included in those records was the aforementioned letter from Cioffi to Hanavan. However, some of the last sentences in the Tisbury Police Department copy of the letter are redacted — not so in the Chilmark Police Department version. That section of the letter states, “I advised Jeff this was twice in the last week that he had been untruthful and that untruthfulness was unacceptable in law enforcement. I advised Jeff that he was being placed on administrative leave pending notification to the selectmen and our town’s labor attorney. Jeff agreed to the untruthfulness and stated that he was not opposed to resigning.”
The last line of the letter is unredacted in both the Chilmark and Tisbury copy of the letter: “The following day Jeff resigned from his position with the department and turned in his equipment.”
Day’s July 26, 2012, resignation letter doesn’t give a reason for leaving.
In a 2016 Tisbury Police Department transcript previously acquired along with other internal investigation records, Day tells Hanavan, “I left Chilmark because I decided not to work for that chief anymore.”
Also in that transcript, Day denied admitting to being untruthful in Chilmark, and denied he lied to the West Tisbury Police.
Day’s 2014 internal investigation in Tisbury shows Cioffi and former West Tisbury Chief Dan Rossi told Hanavan a defense attorney was poised to challenge Day’s truthfulness.
Two years later, in 2016, following a hearing, Tisbury suspended Day. The suspension was for more than five days, former Tisbury Police Lt. Eerik Meisner previously told The Times. Records show, however, that Tisbury Police Lt. Bill Brigham believed the suspension was only five days. Redaction-free IA records swiftly provided by the Tisbury Police Department ahead of The Times press deadline on Wednesday show Hanavan placed Day on administrative leave right at the end of his March 29, 2016, interview with him about the Chilmark matters. In an April 13, 2016, unredacted memo to town administrator Jay Grande, Hanavan wrote that discipline “up to and including termination” should be considered for Day if the allegations against him bear out. Three years later, in 2019, Day was promoted to sergeant. However, his time at the department proved to be short-lived thereafter. For reasons that haven’t been disclosed, Day was placed on administrative leave in February. He subsequently resigned. His final day on the force was May 6, 2022.
Day didn’t immediately respond to a voice message seeking comment.
When asked if he had any reservations about Day’s records in Chilmark, select board chair Jim Malkin said, “Having heard Chief Klaren’s explanation of the situation, I am satisfied with his finding — that he was unaware of that box of documents.”
POST Commission told Day’s untruthfulness ‘unfounded’
The Tisbury Police Department has categorized former Tisbury Police Sgt. Jeff Day’s alleged untruthfulness was “unfounded,” according to a spreadsheet and letter provided to the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission. Tisbury Police Chief Chris Habekost told The Times that the untruthfulness allegation that prompted Day’s investigation is considered unfounded because that’s the determination former Lt. Eerik Meisner came to in 2014 at the conclusion of his report. Further investigation of Day in 2016 by former Chief Dan Havanan about the same topic, untruthfulness regarding a gun theft and a vehicle tow, failed to conclude, and didn’t adhere to the department’s internal investigation format, Habekost said. In a letter to the POST Commission, Habekost’s colleague, Lt. Bill Brigham, wrote in part, “He received a five-day unpaid suspension as a result of this apparent [second] investigation, which followed the one in 2014 conducted by the Tisbury Police Department, which was initiated to investigate untruthfulness when Mr. Day was employed as a police officer for the Chilmark Police Department. The finding of the 2014 investigation was unfounded.”
Brigham told The Times not all Day’s internal investigation files were in their proper folder when he first reviewed it, and that he later discovered a memo from Hanavan to town administrator Jay Grande that outlined more investigation material. The memo was in a different folder, Brigham said. Brigham said he informed the POST Commission of this additional material, but the commission hasn’t asked him to send that material.
Habekost said the progress and determination of the 2016 investigation became opaque once town and labor attorneys got involved. “We have sort of a secret deal behind closed doors,” he said.
Based on the information available, Habekost said, the second investigation “wasn’t technically completed.”
In a June 30, 2014, memo to Hanavan, former Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi wrote that Day had admitted to lying. Day denied this in a 2016 transcribed interview with Hanavan.
Day’s other spreadsheet, entry “False Arrest,’ is categorized as sustained. The entry stems from Day’s 2021 arrest of a man in the center of Vineyard Haven. The arrest was based in part on the way the man walked, which Day deemed similar to a man who had an arrest warrant. It was the wrong man.
Updated with additional information from the Tisbury Police Department.