The clock is ticking for the town to select a new police chief for the first time in nearly 20 years, with Bill Pittman's retirement looming in November. The job has been posted, the town has issued a community survey to solicit input, and the search is underway with more than 40 applicants who submitted applications.
But at least one local candidate has been informed he's out of the running. Former Massachusetts State Police Trooper Jack Moran had thrown his hat in the ring earlier this year to be the next chief of the Nantucket Police Department. But this week Moran received a letter informing him that he was no longer being considered for the job.
Despite eight years with the Nantucket Police Department at the start of his career, 28 years with the Massachusetts State Police on Nantucket, and decades of living and working in the island community, Moran was not selected as a finalist or even offered the opportunity to interview for the job.
"I really was hoping they would at least give me the opportunity to interview to explain my vision of what I could do, or hope to do, to try to continue to bring the police department forward," said Moran, who also serves as the Nantucket High School varsity hockey coach. "I believe the community knows me well. I think the community trusts me. I think I’ve earned that trust over the years of working here as a Trooper. So I was hoping to be able to give it a shot. I think I could have done some good. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, which is a bummer. But that's fine. That's their prerogative."
While he was disappointed by the result, Moran said that as word had trickled out into the community about his candidacy, it was gratifying to hear from many people on the island who contacted him to offer words of encouragement.
Moran led the Nantucket barracks of the Massachusetts State Police for many years and retired with the rank of lieutenant in 2020.
Since then, Moran has returned to the Nantucket Police Department and has been working as a reserve officer, primarily on details, doing his best to help the department as it faces an ongoing full-time officer shortage.
For Moran, who has many connections to the current members of the Nantucket Police Department - not the least of which is his son, patrol officer Jack Moran - the chance to lead the island police force was an attractive opportunity and one he felt he was well-suited for.
"I love the island," Moran said. "I wish they had given me the opportunity to hear why they wouldn’t grant me at least an interview. That’s their choice and I’m happy they finally let us know. It’s been dragging on for months."
In a response to an inquiry last Friday, Nantucket town manager Libby Gibson and the town's human resources director Amanda Perry told the Current Monday morning that the deadline for applicants was extended back in May to expand the search and update the job announcement to include housing information for potential candidates.
The results of the public survey on the police chief search that was conducted last month will not be released, they said. "The survey results are not intended for public distribution," Perry said. "They were designed to obtain input from residents, which will be used to assist with the search process."
So where does the search stand today? Are there finalists?
"We are in the process of reviewing applications and resumes, determining whether or not specific qualifications are met and notifying those who will not move forward at this time," Perry said. "We will then be obtaining written responses to specific questions, conducting oral interviews and then an assessment center with finalists this fall."
Perry and Gibson also directed the Current to the town web site, where there is a dedicated page regarding the police chief search.
Asked directly about Moran's candidacy for the position and the town declining to offer an interview, Perry sent the following e-mail response:
"The recruitment process is still underway, and we cannot comment on an individual’s candidacy for the position," Perry said. "No legitimate municipal search process allows for that. The Town website outlines the process we are following which has been endorsed by the Select Board and links to the Job Announcement which contains the minimum requirements for consideration. We have a strong applicant pool of individuals with a high level of relevant work experience. Much has changed in policing in the last three years, including enactment of the Police Reform Act which contains fundamental changes in the way Massachusetts municipalities approach policing."
With a huge number of vacancies across most departments, the town's recruitment and retention of municipal employees has been under a microscope over the past year. Additional scrutiny was fueled by the controversy that surrounded the selection of the Nantucket Fire Department chief, in which longtime firefighter and deputy chief Sean Mitchell was passed over for Michael Cranson, a candidate from Rhode Island.
While two local candidates being passed over - Mitchell and now Moran - have prompted questions and concerns, there have been other recent examples across Nantucket's municipal government in which internal candidates have been promoted to leadership posts in recent years. Those include Leslie Snell as director of planning; Jesse Bell at the Nantucket Land Bank; and Noah Karberg at Nantucket Memorial Airport, among others.
Disclosure: Jack Moran has family ties to the author of this story. He is the uncle of Jason Graziadei's wife.