Town Council appoints new police chief

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 2:45pm

Late Thursday afternoon, January 19, the New Shoreham Town Council, by a unanimous vote, appointed John Lynch as the new police chief of Block Island pending his Rhode Island certification as a police officer.

The New Shoreham town charter requires that the town manager makes a recommendation to the council and that they then provide their “advice and consent.”

Lynch hails from Wilton, Connecticut where he has served in the police department for almost 38 years, and as chief for the past 6. He will be retiring at the end of this month, and after a brief two weeks will start on Block Island February 13.

Becoming certified in R.I. involves taking courses on specific state laws related to motor vehicles, driving under the influence, and others. During Thursday’s meeting, Lynch said he was already taking courses at the Police Academy.

The search committee for a new chief started in late August and was made up of Town Manager Maryanne Crawford, former long-time First Warden Ken LaCoste, Kim Gaffett, Keith Lang, R.I. State Police Captain Peter Chabot, who was interim chief on the island this past summer, and Molly O’Neill. O’Neill has served on the New Shoreham Police Advisory Commission and was just elected to the Town Council in November.

Crawford said there were “a number of applicants” and the search process resulted in the interviewing of five individuals. Three candidates were “brought back” and given a tour of the police station and the Chief’s House, an old brick home that is part of the Coast Guard Station complex, “so they’ll see where they’ll work and where they’ll live.”

Lynch is no stranger to the island, having visited many times during the summers with his wife. “When this opportunity came up we were very excited,” he said. Since applying for the job they have returned to visit the island a half-dozen times. “We were amazed at how the spirit of community is so important here.”

Block Island has been without a permanent police chief since last May, when Matthew Moynihan left to become chief of police in South Kingstown, after only a year on the island.

I’m not going to go hungry for a while, because I realize my plate is full here,” said Lynch. “So, I’m very humble and honored to be here.”