With a search now under way for a new police chief in Edgartown, tension inside the department has bubbled to the surface in a town that has long prided itself on having relatively few internal problems.

Lieut. Chris Dolby, now acting chief, bluntly described tensions within the department. — Mark Alan Lovewell

But there’s unrest in the police department, selectmen learned this week when nearly every officer in the department, from sergeants to patrolmen, crowded the regular meeting Monday to openly air grievances and express opinions about how the search for a new chief should be conducted.

“We have some of the greatest guys and gals, but when we have people that are unhappy in our workplace . . . I considered keeping my mouth shut, but I don’t want to see that,” Lieut. Chris Dolby told the selectmen. Mr. Dolby is serving as the acting police chief following the early retirement of Chief Dave Rossi last month due to medical reasons, but has said he will not apply for the chief job. Mr. Rossi was promoted to chief two years ago following the retirement of longtime chief Antone Bettencourt. Just before Thanksgiving this year, Mr. Rossi had a heart attack and applied for disability.

Selectmen plan to conduct a formal search for a new chief and have contracted with Integrity Testing of Tewskbury to help find and vet candidates.

Rick Stanley, a former police chief from North Andover and Wareham and co-founder of Integrity Testing, attended the meeting Monday.

Sgt. Craig Edwards said there are good internal candidates. — Mark Alan Lovewell

There was discussion about the process — Mr. Stanley told selectmen the search would be tailored to the Vineyard community, and would include vetting candidates in coordination with a community panel appointed by selectmen for the search.

The committee includes Edgartown school principal John Stevens, council on aging administrator Paul Mohair, fire chief Alex Schaeffer, human resources coordinator Kim Lucas, and former Chief Rossi.

Integrity Testing will also conduct tests for finalists, Mr. Stanley said. The top three candidates will be interviewed in public.

Police officers who attended the meeting pointed to turmoil in the department stemming from the last police chief search in 2015. At the time, Mr. Rossi, a patrolman and former school resource officer, was promoted to chief on the recommendation of interim chief Jack Collins who had done an assessment of the department.

On Monday some said the department would benefit from an outside candidate to come in as chief, while others pressed the selectmen for consideration of internal candidates.

“I’m asking the board of selectmen to give us a professional proven police chief that knows what he or she is doing, that is not going to learn on the job and come in and figure it out,” Mr. Dolby said. “We’ve tried that route. It led to this . . . I don’t want to see it continue. A lot of those guys, if they’re honest with you, they don’t want to see it either.”

Selectman and board chairman Arthur Smadbeck explained the new approach. “Last time we decided on a process that many people felt was incorrect, that we needed to have a wider net, needed to do a better job of vetting candidates,” he said. “And so we thought okay, that’s probably what we ought to do.”

Sgt. Michael Gazaille urged selectmen to find an outside candidate. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Some at the meeting had questions about how Integrity Testing was hired and how the town was conducting the selection process. But the heart of discussion came from members of the police department.

Officer Jeff Trudel, president of the Edgartown Patrolmen’s Union, presented selectmen with a letter outlining concerns about the hiring process.

With a few members of the department expressing interest in applying to be chief, the patrolmen said they had concerns about Mr. Rossi participating in the hiring process.

“Inherently, Chief Rossi acting in his capacity as the police chief has formed opinions about each member of the police department,” Officer Trudel said, reading from the letter. “This is not a slight on Chief Rossi at all,” he added.

The union suggested that Oak Bluffs police chief Erik Blake could instead help with the search process. The union also asked the selectmen to allow one of its elected members to sit on the hiring committee, or have an opportunity to meet with the final candidates in a group forum.

“Your letter reflects why we are in the position we’re in and why we’re going in the direction we’re going,” selectman Margaret Serpa said. “The three individuals who are finalists will be interviewed in the open.”

Mr. Smadbeck said the union had interesting suggestions and he wanted to take its letter under advisement. But he gave his full backing to former Chief Rossi. “David’s been kind enough to run this process,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “He’s had

the faith of this board, and town . . . and I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Officer Jeff Trudel, president of the patrolmens’ union, read a letter raising concerns and asking for a seat on the search committee. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Mr. Rossi said he was participating in the process at the request of selectmen. “A lot of criticism was made when I was appointed chief,” he said. “This is fair and equitable.”

Other officers directly addressed tensions in the department.

Mr. Dolby said there have been “a lot strides in the professionalism of our department,” but that the appointment of Mr. Rossi “left some bad taste in people’s mouths. That whole process we haven’t recovered from . . . they’re not happy in our workplace,” he said. “That doesn’t make me happy. That doesn’t make me want to jump into the chief’s position.”

He continued: “Nobody’s put more effort into that place than I have. [Sgt.] Craig Edwards, who’s sitting in the front row, could be your candidate for chief if we do it in the building.”

Mr. Edwards’s wife Christy jumped in. “He should have been (appointed) last time,” she said.

“That’s the bad taste,” Lieutenant Dolby responded. “My personal opinion is if we have a candidate from inside, it’s just going to keep going.”

Some disagreed.

“Yes, we have internal problems that we want to get rectified,” Mr. Trudel said. “We shouldn’t eliminate internal candidates because of that.”

Sergeant Edwards added his view. “I’m not happy about hearing what I heard, that I should have been chief back then,” he said. “That doesn’t sit well with me today because we’re going through the process again. There are some people within the department that have faculties to manage the department going forward . . . I don’t think we need someone from the outside.”

But Sgt. Michael Gazaille said he disagreed “wholeheartedly.”

“We need somebody from the outside. Honestly, including myself, I don’t think anybody right now is qualified to come in and fix problems,” he said. “We need to go outside, get somebody who’s done that, work with the people already working there...[so we] get to the point where the next go round there is somebody in the police department that’s qualified to run it.”

In the end selectmen stayed the course with the search process, approving a job description and deadline for applications.

“There’s a division within the department,” Mr. Rossi concluded, noting that several people in the room had worked together for 30 years. “If the candidate is within, [we go through] this process then he’s the best guy, so be it. And if it’s somebody that’s away that can help us, that’s what we’re doing.”