From using new tactics to fight opioid abuse to rethinking what constitutes a violent crime, community policing on Martha’s Vineyard requires a special set of skills.

“We’re on an Island. We have to make do with what we have, because resources are not just 10, 20, 30 miles down the road,” Chilmark police chief Jonathan Klaren said this week during a discussion at the Gazette with four Island police chiefs and the county sheriff. “What makes it different on this Island is that we are an Island.”

The discussion was part of the Gazette’s Tuesday in the Newsroom speaker series.

Mr. Klaren was joined by Dukes County sheriff Robert Ogden, Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee, who had been on the job for barely a week, Aquinnah police chief Randhi Belain and Oak Bluffs chief Erik Blake.

Tisbury police chief Dan Hanavan and West Tisbury police chief Matt Mincone were unable to attend.

Chief Blake said what constitutes a serious crime on the Vineyard can be different from the mainland.

“It’s what your community dictates,” he said. “I use the word violent crime in a different context . . . it’s quality of life crimes for people, when you’re not used to certain things.”

Island police have to be prepared for anything, all the chiefs said. And violent crimes can come at any time, Chief McNamee said. “We’re not immune from that here,” he said. “Edgartown residents, please lock your doors for me, lock your cars for me,” he added, drawing laughter.

Chief Belain, who oversees the smallest town on the Island, said the relatively low crime rate comes up every time he is looking for funding at town meeting. “[People say] well it’s Aquinnah, what happens in Aquinnah? Nothing happens in Aquinnah. Well you’d be surprised,” Mr. Belain said. The chief also said with a small department, he often relies on neighboring Chilmark for backup.

Chief Blake offered a sober reminder that tragic events can happen anywhere. A number of Island chiefs and police officers attended the funeral last week for Yarmouth police officer Sean Gannon, who was killed April 25 in Marstons Mills while serving a warrant. Chief Blake said he knows the rural community on the Cape and its police chief well. “They’re devastated,” he said. “It can happen anywhere.”

The opioid crisis was one topic for discussion. The so-called Gloucester model, which aims to help addicts get into treatment as an alternative to arrest, is one that has long been practiced on the Island, Chief Blake said.

Chief McNamee nodded his approval. “I know I’m in the right place if you’ve been doing this so long,” he said.

The Oak Bluffs chief also praised the collaborative programs developed by Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, including one that reserves beds for Islanders at mainland detox facilities.

Chief Klaren said police are trying to attack the problem from both sides.

“Now the approach is following up with the family of someone who has survived an overdose,” he said.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” Chief Blake said. He noted that Chief Belain was the first among Island police chiefs to work on developing crisis intervention teams.

“We all carry Narcan,” Chief Blake said, and Chief Belain reached into his pocket and pulled out a dose of the nasal spray that reverses drug overdoses.

Sheriff Ogden, who as sheriff oversees the Edgartown house of correction, said opioid addiction poses a different problem to his department. He said about 74 per cent of the daily population there arrive with a drug addiction.

“The reality is that the commonwealth of Massachusetts legislature has decided that correctional facilities be ex facto rehab centers, but unfortunately haven’t funded us to that degree,” he said.

Working together was a frequent theme, among different police departments and also other organizations. The Connect to End Violence program through Martha’s Vineyard Community Services is an important partner for law enforcement when it comes to domestic violence, Mr. Belain said.

“The most important job is mutual aid. We have eclectic differences but when it comes to law enforcement and providing services across the Island, nobody does it better than the police chiefs,” Sheriff Ogden said.

The chiefs fielded questions ranging from whether the departments are overstaffed to concerns about safety and climate change. Joyce Dresser of Oak Bluffs praised Island police for being “sympathetic, empathetic, professional, and making me feel safe,” she said. “Thank you.”

Richard Toole asked who has the responsibility for a large puddle that frequently appears on County Road in Oak Bluffs. Collaboration in evidence, Chief Blake said he would send him the highway superintendent’s number.