Almost two years before he made the scathing comments about the Tisbury police which cost him his job, police chief John Cashin launched a similar broadside, aimed at his former colleagues on the Norwalk, Ct., police force.

It was on July 26, 2007 and Mr. Cashin was almost 10 months into his tenure as Tisbury chief when he elected to speak to The Hour, a daily newspaper in his former town, damning the force there for insubordination, lack of discipline and immorality, and calling for a complete shake-up of the department.

He told the paper he had left the force in Norwalk after 25 years because he could no longer tolerate the culture of the place, and was going public as a “last ditch effort to get somebody to wake up to what’s been going on in that department for years.”

“I think whoever is going to lead that department has got to pick up the carpet by the ends and shake everything,” he said.

Mr. Cashin aired many of the same complaints in both cases: personnel dramas, a subset of officers whom he thought should be disciplined or fired, and a culture of impunity.

And his comments were remarkably similar in tone as well as in content. They were dramatically expressed.

“If you could walk the halls invisibly, it would be very easy to hear the unrest, the apathy and the discord that resounds throughout that building,” he said.

“I will tell the truth and I’ll accept the consequences for it.”

And in Norwalk, as in Tisbury, town officials were not impressed.

Norwalk mayor Richard Moccia suggested Mr. Cashin should keep his criticisms to himself and “worry about handling where he is now.”

But Mr. Cashin was no longer employed by Norwalk, and there was little the mayor could do but complain. When Chief Cashin did the same thing in Tisbury, it cost him his job.

Yesterday the chairman of the selectmen, Tristan Israel — the only member of the current board who was serving in July 2007, said he was unaware of any specifics of Mr. Cashin’s outburst to The Hour.

“I vaguely recall there was some issue there, but I never knew any details, and I’d actually forgotten it until you reminded me,” Mr. Israel said, adding:

“I guess it’s something that looks more significant in retrospect.”

Mr. Israel and the other selectmen and town officials spent last week scrambling to deal with the consequences of Mr. Cashin’s comments and subsequent ousting. An acting chief, Daniel Hanavan, was appointed and a consultant, Robert Wasserman, was engaged to conduct a “structural assessment” of the police department.

This week saw them moving more deliberately to formalize the changes, assuage the concerns of a shaken police department, re-establish communication with the officers and ensure that various players were talking to each other — but not to the media.

Thus one selectman, Geoghan Coogan, accompanied by town administrator John Bugbee, was dispatched on Tuesday to attend a meeting with members of the department at police headquarters.

Originally the meeting was to have been on Friday with the whole board, but under the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, that would have made it all public.

Mr. Coogan briefly allowed media into the meeting, to take a few pictures and hear some preliminary remarks, before asking them to leave while he discussed issues with police.

Mr. Coogan was blunt about his desire to keep police matters more private in future.

“The reason there’s only one of me [meaning the selectmen] up here,” he said, “plain and simply is we were going to hold an open meeting but the cameras wanted to be here and turn it into a three-ring circus. And we’ve got enough — for lack of a better term — crap going on.”

He then introduced acting Chief Hanavan to the press and introduced the idea of the Wasserman inquiry to the force.

Mr. Coogan told the officers that Mr. Wasserman, who found the department dysfunctional when he last reviewed it in 2001, would come back as “kind of a supervisor, and help us to see what’s going on . . .

“He’s not doing another report or whatever you want to call it. He’s going to act as, just kind of help us to try to get correct any issues we’ve got and kind of help us move forward.”

Asked later for clarification of Mr. Wasserman’s role, Mr. Coogan said his assumption was that “he is going to do a written report, but not as full-blown as his previous one.”

Mr. Bugbee also was vague on the details of what Mr. Wasserman would do. He explained that Mr. Wasserman had agreed to work with the town, but then left for London before the details could be worked out.

One thing Mr. Coogan, Mr. Bugbee and acting Chief Hanavan were clear on, however, was that the first step in Mr. Wasserman’s investigation would be individual interviews with all the police and selectmen.

Mr. Coogan’s private meeting with the police lasted about 45 minutes. Mr. Hanavan said later that Mr. Coogan urged all present to be “open with your feelings and share your thoughts on the department.”

The acting chief said the matters raised by former Chief Cashin were not addressed in any detail; the major issue on which officers expressed concern was the long delay in negotiations between the town and union over their contracts.

“It’s generally a three-year contract and historically, for the last few times the patrolmen’s contract expires and it’s a year or two before the selectmen will sign a new one,” he said, adding:

“That is frustrating a couple of the officers.”

The contract expired on July 1, 2007. Negotiations stalled and last winter the parties went to mediation. That failed too, and they now are going to arbitration. That process began last week and is likely to take another year.

Asked what was discussed other than the pay issue at the Tuesday meeting, Mr. Bugbee said: “The damage that can occur when private concerns are made public,” and the need for better communication to “bridge the disconnect” between the town and the police.

He said future such meetings are planned — maybe three or four times a year.

Some other loose ends are yet to be tied up. There is still no final settlement between Mr. Cashin and the town. Likewise, Mr. Bugbee is still working on formalizing pay and conditions for the acting chief.

And a sexual harassment and discrimination case brought by one officer late last month remains under investigation by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

The town has yet to make its formal response to the allegations.

And the man thrust into the middle of it all, Dan Hanavan — who was a finalist for chief along with John Cashin in 2006 — confirmed he would try for the top spot again.

“Yeah,” he said yesterday, “I think I’ll go for it. Unless I get burned out by October.”