From supporting the role in Jaws to enforcing the law.
Jonathan Searle has been named Oak Bluffs’ new police chief – 47 years after he filmed Steven Spielberg’s iconic shark shocker in the same Massachusetts town that went by the fictional name of Amity in the classic summer blockbuster.
His appointment caused quite a stir as the tiny town’s board of directors announced it had voted 3-1 to offer the longtime community servant the role of chief constable.
“I think the whole thing is pretty funny myself!” Searle, 56, told the Post Thursday amid all the excitement on the island south of Cape Cod.
Oak Bluffs, home to just over 5,000 full-time residents, is part of ritzy Martha’s Vineyard, where 1975’s Jaws was filmed.
In this film, Searle and his real-life brother Steven memorably played two pranksters who caused a stampede on the beach after swimming into the sea with a cardboard flipper.
Searle is originally from Martha’s Vineyard and has chosen not to pursue a film career despite starring in one of the most iconic films of all time.
Instead, the former child actor – and son of Police Commissioner George Searle, who served with the force for 30 years and held the senior police officer role from 1981 to 1995 – joined the PD in nearby Edgartown back in 1986.
“I’m clearly thrilled and humbled and honored to have been offered the position,” he excitedly told his local news outlet, the Vineyard Gazette. “It’s what I’ve been working toward my whole career.”
As he gradually rose through the ranks, the younger Searle most recently helped lead Project Outreach, an initiative in which officials work with recovery coaches to get residents struggling with addiction into treatment programs.
Ironically, “Jaws” revolved around the exploits of a police chief named Martin Brody.
In the film, which grossed a whopping $472 million at the worldwide box office, fictional Brody (Roy Schneider) teams up with marine biologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to hunt down a man-eating great white shark.
However, Searle hopes life won’t imitate art, and says he wants to focus on catching criminals on land – non-lethal marine life that lurks in nearby waters.
But in 2008, news of terrifying shark sightings in Martha’s Vineyard made headlines, forcing Searle to investigate.
A man sparked panic after telling beachgoers he noticed “two giant white sharks swimming” in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard.
But Searle’s investigation found no such sharks existed, with the man – dubbed Michael Lopenzo – identified as a fraud who was later charged with disorderly conduct.
Back then, Jaws superfans noted the irony of the fact that Searle had tracked down a shark imposter after playing one himself in one of the most famous films of all time.