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Edgartown Police Chief Will Retire

Vineyard Gazette of Edgartown, Massachusetts

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After more than 30 years with the Edgartown police department, including five years at the helm, Edgartown police chief Antone Bettencourt will retire in May.

"It's time, you know, that's the bottom line," Chief Bettencourt told the Gazette Thursday afternoon. "It'll be 32 years for me here, I started just a couple weeks after I turned 18, and I never left.

"I want to go out with a smile. Right now I still love the job, so it's time to just walk away."

In a letter sent Wednesday to town officials, Chief Bettencourt said his last day of work will be May 2.

Arthur Smadbeck, chairman of the Edgartown selectmen, said the board will discuss the chief's retirement at its Jan. 20 meeting.

"He's had a wonderful tenure and he has given a lot to the town over his 32 years," Mr. Smadbeck said. "We're going to miss him. I do know that he's built and is leaving a great police department that is quite deep in talent, and I'm sure [that] will be a credit to his long and distinguished career." He also said:

"My first reaction is always oh, no, he's a great chief. We're losing Tony. He's got to do what's best for him and his life. He's been a great chief and he's given 32 years of his life in service to this town."

Mr. Smadbeck said the board will likely hire a labor attorney to interview the members of the department and make a recommendation to the board.

"We'll probably get the process going as soon as possible," he said.

Tony Bettencourt, as he is known to most, is a Vineyard native. He was appointed to the top post at the town police department in June 2010, following the retirement of the previous chief, Paul Condlin. Mr. Bettencourt's father, Antone Sr., was Edgartown fire chief.

Chief Bettencourt joined the police department in June 1982, shortly after graduating from the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. He looked at the job as a summer gig.

Despite early plans of being an appliance repairman, he ended up taking a full-time job in January 1985. He worked his way from seasonal officer to full-time special officer and then detective, sergeant, and lieutenant.

"Other than parking control, I went through everything, which was kind of cool," he said. "I liked it."

Chief Bettencourt said his early beginning at the police department is part of the reason he is planning an early retirement.

"I started when I was 18,1 missed a lot of that part of my life," he said, add ing that his friends went to college or were working construction jobs. All my friends were banging nails, making more money than me, and I was getting hollered at in the police academy.

"My goal was to get out a bit earlier than the average person," he said. "I just want to enjoy the later part of my life."

During his time as chief, he managed logistics for the town's popular and crowded Fourth of July parade. He also worked with Edgartown School principal John Stevens to create a school resource officer program at the Edgar town School. "It seems to be a growing trend," he said, "and we kind of did it on our own."

The chief said he is also proud of the department's marine program, which has grown through grants and donations. The department has added officers and changed rank structure; he said. The department budget he recently submitted to selectmen includes improvements for the police department building. "I still care about what goes on here," he said. "I'm actively working."

"This town is blessed with a great department," he said. "Over the last four and a half years, I've built on it."

Chief Bettencourt said he hoped to spend more time with his family, including his wife Erika and their daughters, ages 20,18 and 15. He said he'll stay on the Island and in Edgartown, a town that he loves.

"I love this town," Chief Bettencourt said. "I'm not leaving this town, and I think my goal would be after the summer, maybe I'll get involved in some kind of board, I'd like to get involved in something. You'll see me around."

One place Chief Bettencourt will be found is the family business, the Dairy Queen on upper Main street that he and his wife own. "I'm going to spend a lot of time there," he said. "That job's totally different than this one, it's kids and everybody's happy all the time. I'm looking forward to that change, spending a lot of time with my family.

"I'm going to miss it when I watch the cruisers go by the store," he added. "It's time to let somebody else come in."

Copyright 2015 Vineyard Gazette, Edgartown, Massachusetts. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 16, 2015

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