Internal Investigation Clears Deputy Police Chief In Text Message Incident

Jason Graziadei •

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Nantucket Police Department Deputy Police Chief Charlie Gibson has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an internal investigation of a text message he sent to a former colleague.

During the intense public meeting regarding the contract for Nantucket's new fire chief back in August, former Nantucket Police Department Detective Steve Tornovish took the mic and disclosed an interaction he had with Gibson, the husband of town manager Libby Gibson.

“This morning I received an unsolicited text message from Deputy Chief Gibson of the Nantucket Police Department,” Tornovish said. “It is my belief this text message was designed to be threatening in nature. This text, although poorly written, conveyed a message about my having commented on ‘something you know nothing about.’ Although not explicitly stated in the deputy chief’s text, I surmise that this unsettling communication was about my public opposition to the selection process for the fire chief position. In case anyone was wondering, I chose not to be intimidated. It is disturbing that someone in a position of such significant authority would take this overt action to try to deny me my first amendment rights.”

The Select Board requested that the incident be investigated, and Tornovish pursued the matter further with the Nantucket Police Department. In an Aug. 29 e-mail to police chief Bill Pittman, Tornovish requested that Gibson both apologize for the text message, and also that he volunteer as a driver for the local Meal on Wheels program for no less than 20 hours.

On Thursday, Tornovish shared with the Current an e-mail he had received from Pittman outlining the results of the department's internal investigation into the matter:

"The final disposition in the case is 'EXONERATED' which means that the act which provided the basis for the complaint did occur, but that it was justified, legal, or proper, and that no misconduct was involved," Pittman wrote. The text message "did not rise to the level that would indicate that this was anything more than Mr. Gibson exercising his own rights under the First Amendment."

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The investigation was conducted by Nantucket Police Department Lt. Brendan Coakley, a fact which Tornovish criticized as it resulted in Coakley having to investigate his superior officer.

Tornovish requested that the department preserve all documents and correspondence related to the investigation, and said his next step would be to take the matter to the state Attorney General.

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Tornovish shared the text message in question with the Current, a screenshot of which is below:

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