35 Years of Experience

From the Vineyard Gazette Oct. 20 2016 by Steve Myrick

County Sheriff Candidate: Neal Maciel

Neal Maciel is a third-generation Islander who retired from a 35-year career in law enforcement in 2010. He said he was spurred into a law enforcement career by the death of a high school friend who died in a car accident after a night of drinking.

He worked as a patrolman in Tisbury and Oak Bluffs, before joining the Registry of Motor Vehicles as an inspection officer. He joined the state police in 1992, and after being promoted to sergeant was appointed commander of the Martha’s Vineyard barracks.

He is now retired and operates a driver’s education school at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. He lives in Vineyard Haven with his wife Marilyn.

He is running for office as an unenrolled candidate. He said the decision to enter the race for Dukes County sheriff was difficult.

“I took my time thinking about it,” Mr. Maciel said. “I enjoy what I’m doing now, working with the kids. It really was a very tough decision. The easy decision would be not to run.”

Mr. Maciel ran for sheriff in 2010 and was defeated by longtime sheriff Michael McCormack, who is retiring in January.

“I ran because as a police officer, I had seen over the years a lot of criminals that were being brought over here, being housed over here from off-Island that did not commit their crimes here,” he said.

He said at the time he also felt corrections officers and staff were hampered by low morale, and that inmates were not being held accountable for violations.

“This time, things are even worse,” Mr. Maciel said.

If elected, he said he would put the brakes on the practice of housing violent criminals from off-Island at the Edgartown house of correction. “Why we are doing that, I don’t know,” he said. “This administration seems to do that. I would absolutely stop prisoner transfers. There may be some we have to take, but I’m going to make sure they’re not sex offenders, not pedophiles, they’re not murderers, they’re not career drug dealers.”

While he said he supports rehabilitative programs that help inmates transition back into society, he views the primary purpose of incarceration as punishment.

“I think people need to realize that people sentenced to jail have had many, many chances to correct their ways. The law says you shall be punished,” he said. “Until they change the law, it is punishment. This person has violated the laws of our society and has been told you have to go in a place where you’re not going to be able to harm us or anybody else.”

He would support adopting — as does his opponent — the Gloucester police department program that allows drug addicts to avoid arrest by turning in their drugs and pairing with a recovery specialist for treatment.

“I think it’s a great model,” Mr. Maciel said. People that really want help should have that avenue. I think the sheriff’s department is absolutely the department set up to do that.”

He also spoke about the problems with the first responder radio system, saying he experienced the problems firsthand as a police officer.

“Communications on the Island has been a problem for a long time. There are certain areas where there are dead spots,” he said. “With today’s technology, there has got to be a way that people can communicate just about anywhere on Martha’s Vineyard.”

Mr. Maciel said if elected, he will be approachable and accessible.

“You need some help, I’ll do my best to help you out,” he said. That’s what I think this department has needed for a long time. I’m there for this community, This is my home. It has always been my home. People will know who the sheriff is and they’ll be able to come to him for help.”

© NMFS 2016