NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. — After less than a year on the job, the police chief on Block Island is stepping down.
Chief John P. Lynch submitted his resignation letter to the town on Wednesday, which said his last day would be Oct. 2. Lynch, who was brought on to lead the department in February, cited personal reasons for his resignation. Since arriving on the island, Lynch’s family has welcomed a grandson, and he needs to care for his aging parents in Connecticut, he wrote.
Lynch did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Globe on Thursday.
Town Manager Maryanne Crawford anticipates announcing a recommendation for a temporary replacement during the town council meeting on Oct. 2.
Block Island, where fewer than 1,000 full-time residents live on the island during the winter months, has long struggled to keep a police chief. In June 2022, former chief Matthew C. Moynihan, who previously worked as a Rhode Island state trooper, left Block Island to lead South Kingstown’s police department.
When Lynch arrived in February, Block Island was still dealing with the aftermath of a turbulent summer that made national headlines. In August 2022, a rowdy reggae festival at Ballard’s Beach Resort led to brawls on the resort’s property, and fights took place in town and on late-night ferries back to the mainland. The altercations led to multiple arrests, and some attendees filed a suit in August against Ballard’s and the ferry company, alleging events were not kept under control.
Lynch has had to navigate a string of challenges this summer despite a tourist season partly dampened by sustained rainy weather.
In August, a Hartford police officer was arrested on sexual assault charges in an alleged incident at Ballard’s. Separately, a former Block Island police officer was accused of assaulting a 20-year-old man when he was arresting him earlier this summer. The officer was placed on leave that night, terminated in early August, and was recently indicted.
Also last month, a devastating fire destroyed the historic Harborside Inn, which is still in the process of being torn down. No one was injured in the blaze, but visitors were displaced in the late-night hours of Aug. 18. Multiple fire crews from the mainland had to be chartered by the ferry company throughout the night to control the flames.
Prior to heading to Block Island, Lynch retired as the police chief in Wilton, Connecticut, where he had worked since 1985.
While working for Wilton Police, Lynch started as a dispatcher in 1985 before he was promoted to patrol officer, and then lieutenant. In 2009, he was named captain, and then chief in 2017. Along with leading the department, Lynch also served as a member of the volunteer fire department, according to the Connecticut Post.