New Block Island police chief addresses chaotic summer, goals for the future

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WLNE) — Block Island Police Chief John Lynch began his new position two weeks ago, but already has several objectives for the upcoming summer.

The island dealt with a string of arrests last summer stemming from unruly behavior, excessive drinking, and large gatherings.

Lynch served six years as chief of police in Wilton, Connecticut.

“Where I come from in Wilton, it’s almost the exact opposite in the summertime,” said Lynch. “Most people go away — a lot of them apparently to Block Island.”

Lynch told ABC 6 News Wednesday his top priority at the moment is to increase his staff.

He added, “In the summer, we look to hire part timers to assist because you go from 1,000 to 20,000 people.”

The New Shoreham Town Council voted unanimously this fall to “enforce local and state liquor laws, including the active enforcement of laws against underage drinking, open containers of alcoholic beverages, public intoxication, and antisocial behavior.”

Lynch agreed this has to be prioritized, explaining, “I’ve known Block Island as a vacationer and a visitor to be a family island. It’s not Bourbon Street. If people are coming and upsetting that balance and you do get a shift.”

Large events on the island also brought crowds often too large for the community.

“Block Island is not a place that can hold large events,” said Lynch.

Lynch noted the department is already working alongside the ferries to ensure more organized travel this summer.

The department also requests assistance from Rhode Island State Police. Last summer, the state provided the service of three officers for the season.

“People want to come here to visit. They want to enjoy themselves, they let their hair down — sometimes a little bit too much. But it’s our responsibility to do that safely,” Lynch concluded.

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