The Chilmark select board voted Wednesday to approve Sgt. Sean Slavin as the new police chief.

Mr. Slavin has spent the last 26 years in law enforcement, having held positions in each of the up-Island police departments, and started with Chilmark in 2009.

“I think I just like the idea of helping people,” said Mr. Slavin speaking to the Gazette Thursday about why he was drawn to police work. “Once I got to the Vineyard and got a taste of law enforcement, I just enjoyed the work.”

Mr. Slavin first came to the Island in 1997, after graduating from University of Massachusetts-Amherst, serving as a traffic officer in what was then the town of Gay Head. After graduating from the police academy, he returned to the newly-renamed Aquinnah police department.

It was around this time when he met his wife, Dardanella Slavin, a chiropractor and Chilmark native.

After a couple of years off-Island, Mr. Slavin returned to work with the West Tisbury department, and his family moved to Chilmark after securing an affordable housing lot in the town.

“Working all three up-Island towns with different chiefs has given me a good feeling for what works and what doesn’t...I’ve taken good and bad from all of them,” Mr. Slavin said at the select board interview on Tuesday.

The search committee had chosen three candidates for interviews, the penultimate step in a months-long hiring process initiated after chief Jonathan Klaren announced last fall his plan to retire.

In addition to Mr. Slavin the board interviewed Det. Jesse Burton of the Chilmark police force and Sgt. Garrison Vieira of the West Tisbury police force.

During a short period of deliberation on Wednesday, the select board emphasized the strengths of all three candidates and the value of the interview process.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” said board member Jim Malkin. “I think Sergeant Slavin’s experience with the citizens and the town gave him the edge.”

Among his priorities, Mr. Slavin said at the interview he wanted to do outreach after noticing an uptick in telephone and internet scams affecting the elderly. He also hopes to improve communication with other town agencies and encourage public transit to Menemsha.

“I wouldn’t say there will be any big changes, but obviously I’d like to put my own spin on the department,” he said to the Gazette. “It’s obviously a big responsibility...I look at it as a new challenge”

Mr. Slavin said that the biggest challenge for the department would be recruiting and retaining officers.

“When I first got here, there was no problem hiring people” said Mr. Slavin, who explained that hiring difficulties on the Vineyard were reflective of a greater trend across the nation.

Still, Mr. Slavin feels up to the task.

“The town has given me so much, my wife growing up here, getting affordable housing, giving me the ability to raise my kids in such a special community...I think it’s time for me to give back, and this is the way I know how.”