Tisbury, Mass — A Tisbury School crossing guard was recently “relieved from duty” and has had his personal guns confiscated.
The man allegedly made threats to the school in the hearing of a waitress at Linda Jean’s restaurant in Oak Bluff.
But while the headline sounds ominous, the facts make the accusation laughable.
Stephen Nichols, 84, is a 60-year veteran of the Tisbury Police Department.
He’s also a veteran of the Korean War, a retired constable He’s served as a crossing guard for years and is beloved in the community.
What would make a man like this make a violent threat against the school children he had been protecting — in one form or another — for six decades?
Well, simply put, he didn’t.
He was eating breakfast in the local diner, Linda Jean’s, when he commented to a friend that the school resource officer was often seen leaving school in the mornings.
When he’d investigated it, he found out that the resource officer was leaving — after children were present — to get himself a coffee at the Xtra Mart nearby.
Nichols pointed out that anything could happen while the school security guard was gone.
He said that somebody could come in and shoot up the school while the guard was gone.
Nichols described the situation as the school guard ‘leaving his post.’
And that’s it, folks. A dangerous, violent threat.
When Police Chief Mark Saloio got a call from the waitress at Linda Jean’s, instead of using common sense, he Red-Flagged the 84-year-old veteran.
And he had to do it in the most humiliating way possible.
He showed up on the street where Nichols was shepherding kids across the street and “relieved him of duty” on the spot.
“He came up and told me what I said was a felony but he wasn’t going to charge me,” Nichols said of Saloio.
He and another officer then immediately took the old man in his police car to his house and confiscated his guns on the spot.
When asked what paperwork they provided to demand his license to carry, Nichols said, “No he just told me to hand it over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him.”
Nichols had held the license without incident since 1958. The police department also neglected to give the man any paperwork or receipts for the guns they confiscated.
When faced with public scrutiny for his power-trip, Saloio refused to comment. Saloio said, “There’s nothing that I can legally discuss about the matter. Period.”
Interestingly, the police also refused to release the police report they based their actions on. They cited a “personnel” exemption of the public records law. Technically, the police department hires and trains all school crossing guards, so they used the loophole to keep the report sealed.
In a recent interview, Nichols gave a more thorough explanation of his comments.
He said, “When I was in the United States Army, and it wasn’t just me, it’s anybody who’s in the United States service, if you are on guard duty for eight hours, you didn’t leave that position,” Nichols said. “And I’m just so accustomed to that, that when I see someone who’s suppose to be protecting kids . . . leave the school unguarded — if you’re on guard duty, you stay there.”
Interestingly, the owner of the restaurant where the comments were overheard and mistakenly interpreted thinks the entire thing is “absolutely outrageous.”
The other person in the restaurant that Nichols was talking to when the ‘threats’ were made also said that there was nothing threatening about Nichol’s comments. Instead, the other patron calls the situation, “absurd.”
That patron, Edgartown resident Andy Marcus, said of Nichols, “He loves kids. It’s almost like of all the people…”
Nichols told reporters that he has 11 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
“I would never, ever, ever, harm a child,” he said.
Nichols has retained a lawyer, and we’re hopeful he’ll see his rights restored.
Meanwhile, this joker of a Police Chief should be laughed out of office at the next election.
Move to the big city if you want more action, Pal.
Don’t invent threats to keep yourself busy or make yourself feel like a hero.
And Red Flag laws march across the land, creating more and more victims like Stephen Nichols.