At the June 20 meeting of the Derry Town Council, Derry Police Department Chief Edward B. Garone was recognized for his 45 years of service to Derry with integrity, honor, and distinction. June 2017 was even declared Chief Edward Garone Month.
Garone was raised in the tiny town of Bradford, Vermont and was born in the even tinier town of Woodsville, New Hampshire.
During the Vietnam era, he was stationed in Japan while in the Marines but was fortunate not to have seen any combat. He returned home to northern New Hampshire and began his career with the Lebanon Police Department in October 1964. He enrolled in Northeastern University and took classes at the school’s Springfield, Massachusetts campus.
In 1972, Chief Garone bested 38 other applicants for the job of police chief in Derry. He had been a police officer for eight years in Lebanon and rose to the level of captain while there.
“I saw it as a good opportunity for career growth and I accepted the job of police chief in Derry. When I went back to Lebanon, the job of chief had opened up there and I was offered that job as well, but I already accepted the job in Derry so I did not take it.”
At the time, Garone was just 29. He was among the youngest police chiefs in the entire state, if not the youngest.
He and his wife, Blanche, raised their two children in Derry. She worked for 35 years as a nurse at Parkland Medical Center and is active in the Derry Garden Club as well. She recently received a national “Someone Who Makes a Difference” award in part for her work facilitating a children’s garden at The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry.
Their daughter, Vicky, is an elementary school office manager and is married to a recently retired Hanover police officer. “How about that. My son-in-law retired before I did,” Garone said with a laugh.
Their son, Michael, is a 15-year veteran of the Derry Fire Department.
The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry is an organization close to Chief Garone’s heart, too. He says it is his favorite charity and he serves on its board of directors. “Children are our future,” he says, “Sometimes just a small encouragement can influence kids in a positive way.”
The nation’s longest serving police chief was Millard M. Jordan, who served for 51 years and 243 days from 1962 to 2014 in Lawtey, Florida. When asked if he would surpass that record, Garone said, “I’m not sure. I certainly did not think I’d be here this long when I started in 1972.”
He said he is happy working and if he ever wanted to do something else, he would have done so. He noted that it’s been great to work with high quality officers in Derry and to have the support of the community.
When asked about how policing in Derry has changed since the early 70’s, he responded that Derry used to be a “wild and wooly place. It seemed like every time there was an arrest, a fight would break out. There was a lot of marijuana, LSD, and speed around town. The parks were not usable by regular people because of the bands of thugs that controlled them.”
Garone instituted changes in how officers were trained and better command structures. The way he described it in the earliest days of his tenure would be unrecognizable to most people in town today.