Life imitates art as the kid from ‘Jaws’ becomes police chief of the real Amity Island

Universal

Steven Spielberg made his name as a director with Jaws. The thriller scared audiences away from the beaches in the summer of 1975 and was pivotal in establishing the concept of the modern summer blockbuster. Now it’s almost a half-century old, and as a mark of how much time has passed a child actor in it has just become the Police Chief of Oak Bluffs, the town in which the movie was filmed.

Jonathan Searle plays one of the two boys in the famous ‘fake shark’ scene. This comes as Amity Island’s bathers have been convinced to return to the water while the man-eating shark is still out there. Then a fin appears and heads towards two girls – the bathers panic and flee the water… though the culprit turns out to be two young boys with a fake shark fin strapped to their back.

Searle’s iconic screen moment is now just a fun footnote in his life. In 1986, he joined the Edgartown Police Department, slowly ascended through the ranks, and has now been voted the Chief of the Police. Reacting to the appointment, Searle said, “it’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career”.

Edgartown PD doesn’t let Searle forget about his moment in cinematic history. In 2019 they posted a social media tribute to mark the film’s 44th anniversary, saying “anytime we can show off the fact that Sgt. Searle was in ‘Jaws’ is a good day!!”.

In a neat twist in 2008, Searle even charged a man with disorderly conduct for lying about having seen sharks in the area — bringing things full circle to his 5 minutes of fame.

Jaws is available as part of the Amazon Prime subscription and can be rented from all the usual places.