Ex-child actor who appeared in Jaws as boy wearing fake shark fin is named police chief of the same Martha’s Vineyard town where classic 1976 movie was shot
- Jonathan Searle, 56, was voted in 3-1 as Oaks Bluffs police chief on Monday
- ‘I’m finding the whole thing quite funny myself!’ he said. ‘It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career’
- The child actor is best known for his role in the highly successful horror movie Jaws, where he played a boy who donned a fake fin to scare beachgoers
- Despite the success of the movie, Searle went forewent a film career and would later join the Edgartown Police Department, where he currently works
- The Martha’s Vineyard native will start as chief at the end of June, when the current chief retires
A former Jaws star went from terrorizing the town of Amity to policing its streets in real life.
Jonathan Searle, 56, once donned a fake fin to scare Oak Bluffs beachgoers in the classic horror film set on Martha’s Vineyard. Now the actor has been named the town’s police chief, 47 years after filming took place in the same location.
The small, ritzy town of 5,000 full-time residents appointed him chief with a vote of 3-1 on Monday. Searle was the one of two natives of the island who made it to the final list. He also ran against former NYC and Newport lieutenants.
‘I’m finding the whole thing quite funny myself!’ he told the New York Post about being named Chief of Oaks Bluffs.
‘I’m clearly elated and I’m humbled and honored to have been offered the position,’ he told the Vineyard Gazette.
The child actor will begin his new position starting at the end of June, after current Chief Erik Blake retires.
Searle has lived on the island off the coast of Massachusetts his whole life, with his own father being named Edgartown police chief from 1981 to 1995.
He decided not to pursue a movie career after his unforgettable appearance in Jaws. Eventually, he would join the Edgartown Police Department in 1986, which would lead him to his biggest role yet: chief.
‘It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career,’ he told the Vineyard Gazette.
Jonathan Searle, 56, (right) once donned a fake fin to scare Oak Bluffs beachgoers in the classic horror film Jaws, set on Martha’s Vineyard, now the actor has been named the town’s police chief, 47 years after filming
Searle (right) is most famously known for his role in Jaws, where he played a boy who donned fake fin to scare beachgoers in Oaks Bluffs
The town’s board voted him into the new position 3-1 and he was once of the two natives of the island that made it to the final few. He will begin his new position at the end of June, when the current chief retires (pictured: Searle filming a video for Edgartown PD, where he currently works)
As a young officer, Searle spent most of his time rising through ranks and helping with Project Outreach – a program that paired officers with recovery coaches to help get addicts into treatment programs.
And now, as chief, he knows a thing or two about how to stop a bad cop. The iconic horror film centers around a police chief exploiting the town. The film, which made nearly $500million at the box office, sees the chief pair up with a marine biologist to hunt the man-eating shark.
Amazingly, during his time on the force, Searle even had to track down a hoaxer, who claimed to see two great white sharks lingering off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in 2008,
His investigation determined there wasn’t a shark in sight and the man, Michael Lopenzo, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Being police chief won’t be all fun and games and shark hunting for Searle, who will face the ongoing problem of the department losing its officers.
‘If we can’t hold on to officers we have that are here, we aren’t going to survive,’ Select Board Member Jason Balboni reportedly said, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times. The new chief is meant to ‘rebuild’ the community, the board said.
Searle, who describes himself as a ‘people person,’ reportedly said he wanted to enhance those who work under him and share the wealth of knowledge and guidance throughout.
With ‘structural deficiencies’ within the police rank, largely dealing with ‘issues around leadership,’ Searle will be charged with the task of being ‘an agent of change’ the board said.
Searle is a native of Martha’s Vineyard and will be policing Oak Bluffs come the end of June
‘There is a lack of equity and very clear fracture within the department, where you have a very favored group,’ board member Brian Packish admitted, the Martha’s Vineyard Times reported.
‘What I believe we need to do, is not continue to do what we’re doing,’ he said. ‘I think we need change, we need leadership that’s going to bring that change. I think we have gotten a little off track to where I, and people in the community that I talk to, feel the same way.’
Recently, a gun went missing inside the Oaks Bluffs department, which ultimately lead to the resignation of Sergeant Michael Marchand.
Balboni said Searle will be ‘for the best for our department, for the best of our town, [and] for the best of our future.’
In the movie (pictured), the police chief and a marine biologist hunt down a man-eating shark. In 2008, a man on the island claimed to have seen two great whites, causing Searle to investigate the incident, much like the movie. However, he later determined there was no sharks
The iconic horror film had lines of people waiting to see it, bolstering nearly $500million at the box office
The current Chief of Edgartown Bruce McNamee had nothing but warm praise for his outgoing officer, telling the Vineyard Gazette: ‘I know he’s going to serve the community of Oak Bluffs as well as he’s served the community of Edgartown.’
‘He’s definitely leaving behind big shoes to fill,’ McNamee told the Martha’s Vineyard Times.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Searle for comment.
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