Police Chief Bill Pittman To Retire In November

Jason Graziadei •

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After nearly 20 years at the helm of the island’s police force, Nantucket Police chief Bill Pittman has given the town notice that he will retire later this year in November.

Pittman, who was named the island's police chief in October 2004, told the Current Thursday afternoon that he intends to retire on November 30, 2023. Pittman will turn 65 that month, which is the mandatory retirement age for police officers in Massachusetts.

"I can only say that it has been an honor and a privilege to have had the opportunity to be the police chief for a community like Nantucket," Pittman told the Current. "I'm extremely proud of the men and women of this department who come to work every day with the attitude of making our community a better place whether on land or the water. I will work with the Town Manager to ensure a smooth transition for my successor."

Pittman was hired to replace former long-time island Police Chief Randy Norris in 2004, after having served as a lieutenant with the Springfield (Illinois) Police Department.

In nearly two decades leading the Nantucket Police Department, Pittman was instrumental in modernizing the island police force, overseeing the transition from the old downtown police station to the public safety facility on Fairgrounds Road, and implementing dashboard cameras on cruisers.

Shortly after taking the job on Nantucket, Pittman was almost immediately thrown into the national spotlight. Less than six months into his tenure, Pittman found himself overseeing the initial murder investigation following the high profile stabbing death of island resident Elizabeth Lochtefeld on Hawthorne Lane in October 2004. Over the next 19 years, Pittman would lead the department through another murder case in 2009, along with several challenging missing persons cases.

As Nantucket Police chief, Pittman navigated near-constant staffing shortages, along with the major crackdown on Fourth of July beach parties on the island in the mid-2010s that saw him tap Massachusetts State Police Troopers to augment the island's officers.

Pittman also managed the department's response to several controversial incidents, including the 2007 altercation on Broad Street between a group of black teenagers and police officers that prompted a civil rights lawsuit against 10 officers, including Pittman, and an internal investigation. The incident eventual led to Pittman's decision in 2010 to reorganize the so-called "summer special" program by stripping the department's temporary officers of any law enforcement powers, opting instead to create the current community service officer program. Pittman was also at the helm of the initial investigation into the hate crime at the African Meeting House in 2018 before it was turned over to State Police working with the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office. That fallout from that case also led to a civil rights lawsuit against the town that is still pending.

Pittman and his wife Nancy put down roots on Nantucket in 2007 after he signed a new contract with the town and purchased a home in the Abrams Quarry neighborhood off South Shore Road, where the couple would raise two children who both attended Nantucket High School.

Stay tuned for more coverage of this story and Pittman’s tenure as chief of Nantucket Police Department.

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