Ed Garone took on the Derry Chief of Police job in May 1972, 42 years ago, and on Wednesday, Oct. 15, marked his 50th year in law enforcement.
His wife, Blanche Garone, brought a decorated cake to the police station, and his family was present as well as some Derry officers to help recognize his years of service in a low-key celebration.
Derry Police Captain George Feole said that to the best of his knowledge, Garone, 71, is the longest serving chief in the country. He handed out a copy of a news article that said a Groveland chief, T.R. Merrill, had been the longest serving chief in the country in 2012, serving there from 1969. The article states that in 2008 the Peace Officers Association named him the longest serving chief in the nation.
Feole also said the Guinness Book of World Records states that, “Thomas E. Hawley of Howard, Wis., served as Chief of Police for the city of Green Bay from Aug. 17, 1897 to June 1, 1946, a total of 49 years.”
“It is my opinion that Chief Garone is now the longest serving chief in the country,” Feole said.
Garone said he was surprised by the Oct. 15 celebration and claimed that little or none of his success would have been possible without his wife’s support.
“It is so good to be able to go home and have a safe haven,” he said. “My children, Vicki and Michael, never gave me a moment’s trouble growing up and have always made me proud. Fifty years – and such a great ride, especially the 42 and a half years here in Derry. My thanks to all of those who have gone before for making my career that much easier. I have been able to get good people and train them, and that makes my job easy.”
Garone, who is from Bradford, Vt., said he spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining the Lebanon Police Department in 1964, where he worked his way up to be the second in command.
“I learned about fairness from (Lebanon) Chief (Ben) Thompson, and when to be stern and when to be not so stern, and the second chief I learned from was Charlie Reynolds, who taught me organizational skills and that fairness and equality for everyone is important,” Garone recalled.
Garone said he wanted to further his career and thus applied for the Derry chief’s post, along with 49 other candidates. He was hired, and the rest is history.
Asked why he chose law enforcement Garone said that as a young high school student he had been taken under the wing of a Vermont State Trooper. He said he was impressed by the trooper and his uniform and when he went into the Marines, he liked that uniform and structure and made the decision to become a Vermont State Trooper.
“I was in the process of applying for that position when the Trooper tracked me down and suggested it would be a better job and a better opportunity for me to apply for the opening at the Lebanon Police Department,” he said. “I took his advice and applied and in a very short time Chief Thompson told me the job was mine if I wanted it, which I did.”
For Garone the public service aspect of law en-forcement is what he likes best. He said being able to do things for others is what pleases him the most, and he admitted that as a police officer he is in a unique position to do things for people that no one else can do.
“I find it a pleasure to work with people,” he said. “My success, apart from what my family has contributed, can be attributed to the attitude those chiefs instilled in me – that I should treat people the way I would like to be dealt with.”
Garone’s family is a great source of comfort and pride for him. His daughter, Vicki, is married to Frank Moran, a Hanover Police captain who just recently retired. Vicki works as a school secretary and their daughter, Maureen, is a sophomore at Keene State.
His son, Michael, has been a firefighter with the Derry Fire Department for 14 years. Michael and his wife, Rebecca, have two children, Aiden, 11, and Alex, 8.
Derry has changed in many ways since Garone arrived as police chief. He said the town has almost tripled in size, but the most important change is how the police department is viewed.
“When I arrived the townspeople looked at the department with disdain,” he said. “Over the years this has changed, and I feel we’re well respected today. The government of the Town has gone through a number of changes since I have been here but throughout has been very supportive of the Police Department.
“When I first arrived, everyone wanted to fight their way in and out of a police cruiser but that has subsided and relatively speaking, knockdown fighting is rare,” he added. “We have been through LSD and marijuana and now we are facing a heroin epidemic, which is probably as bad as any problem we’ve seen. We are on track to see eight people overdose on heroin this year, twice as many as last year. That is a societal and public health problem but we as police get locked into it as the clean-up crew. I am hoping more money will be found to be put toward prevention and treatment.”
Garone told those gathered for the celebration that he was honored to work with the men and women of the Derry Police Department and assured them that he has no plans on going anywhere. And in response to a direct question about whether he planned to retire, he said he had no plans to do so.