The Chilmark selectmen on Wednesday spent more than two hours grilling three candidates for town police chief, and are expected to make a selection tonight in a meeting that begins at 5 p.m. in the town hall.

Seekonk police Capt. Frank John, Plymouth police Capt. Bruce McNamee and Chilmark police Sgt. Jonathan Klaren were interviewed in succession at town hall, as police chiefs from every Island town looked on.

Selectmen asked each candidate questions related to past accomplishments, leadership qualities, policing strategies and potential vulnerabilities.

Questions for Mr. John and Mr. McNamee focused on the challenges of transitioning to the Island community, while Mr. Klaren’s interview focused more on town-specific issues such as plans to hire a new police officer and the process of working with other departments. Mr. John and Mr. McNamee both expressed a long-term commitment to living and working in Chilmark.

Noting the ups and downs of his own department over the years, Mr. John said that in transitioning to Chilmark he would focus more on learning the lay of the land in his first few weeks. “Take it a little slower than I’ve seen in the past,” he said. “And try to build trust through integrity and honesty, and I think everything will work out from there.”

Mr. McNamee said his initial goals as chief would include getting to know his officers and earning their confidence. He also expressed an interest in commissioning an outside group to conduct a management audit.

Mr. Klaren described a sense of uncertainty in the department since former chief Brian Cioffi stepped down in December, and said his first priority would be meeting with the department as a whole, and then with each member to clarify expectations. He said he hoped to enroll the department in a statewide accreditation program.

Candidates appeared to be caught off guard when selectman James Malkin asked how they might fail at the job.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Mr. John. But after a moment, he added that town politics and a sense of entitlement can create roadblocks. “I have no doubt that any one of the three candidates here could fulfill the job,” he said. “If something were to fail, that’s probably where it could happen, especially coming from the outside.”

Mr. McNamee said he hoped people in Chilmark would give him a chance as an outsider. “My coming here is a commitment. I would be giving up a fairly successful career in another place . . . I wouldn’t be coming here without having given it a lot of thought.”

Mr. Klaren stressed the importance of town support, including from the selectmen, and not taking things for granted. “If you lose support of the community you are probably going to fail,” he said. But he added: “I don’t envision a scenario that I would go out and lose support. That’s a tough question.”

The selectmen also asked each candidate how he would respond if he caught a town selectman speeding down the road.

“Was I appointed unanimously?” said Mr. McNamee, drawing laughter. He then cited a 2011 report that listed about 350 traffic stops and only 67 citations in Chilmark that year. “My agency isn’t quite like that,” he said. “Here, it seems like educating an operator isn’t at all uncommon. It seems like it’s embraced, and I like that.”

Mr. John had a similar response. “You would be stopped, you would be spoken to,” he said, adding that if it was not a recurring problem, a verbal warning might suffice. He also noted the consequences of officials breaking the law in a small community. “All the people are going to see that,” he said. “You are in a fish bowl.”

As far as working with other town departments in the summer, Mr. Klaren offered a number of examples from the past, including the creation of temporary safety zones for the highway department and having officers at Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket Beach every day to help manage traffic. He also highlighted the limitations of living on an Island and the importance of reaching out to other groups and sharing resources.

Mr. Klaren walked the selectmen through a number of policing scenarios, including parking conflicts in the center of town, fireworks on the beach and calls related to domestic abuse.

Candidates had few questions for the selectmen.

Police chiefs in attendance included David Rossi from Edgartown, Erik Blake from Oak Bluffs, Dan Hanavan from Tisbury, Daniel Rossi from West Tisbury, Randhi Belain from Aquinnah, and interim chief Tim Rich from Chilmark. Mr. Rich served on the search and selection committee. Dukes County sheriff Robert Ogden also attended part of the meeting.