Carney’s expertise goes above and beyond

Seasoned officer begins role as district’s top cop


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

New Jersey native Ed Carney recently assumed the role of district police chief for the Contra Costa Community College District.

By Benjamin Bassham, News Editor

A district police chief has to have some experience under his belt. You start on the street, you get shot at, you get some education, you blow some things up, and 35 years later you can work at all hours as the Contra Costa Community College District’s Director of Police Safety and Emergency Services.

Ed Carney is the district’s new police chief.

District Vice Chancellor Gene Huff said, “We just hired Ed in the spring. He’s a very solid person. He came highly recommended.”

Huff said when he was checking Carney’s references he got unsolicited input from everyone he talked to about Carney’s dedication.

Carney said his career began in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

“I became a police officer at 19. I did not have the opportunity to go to college.”

He said he spent 16 of his 25 years on the force as a street officer in the town he grew up in. “Five years in I realized that if I was going to achieve beyond the street I needed an education.

Over his life he collected a master’s degree in human resource development from Seton Hall University and a bachelor’s degree in human services from Thomas Edison State College and graduated from the West Point Command and Leadership Program.

Carney said he worked with SWAT for 16 years, and rose from entry team to commander.

“For almost all of my 25 years I was a police trainer,” he said

He said he started teaching firearms, then moved on as his education progressed to patrol tactics and executive command training, teaching other officers (usually lieutenant and above) how to lead.

His district biography says he also taught about explosives recognition, and weapons of mass destruction.

Carney said, “Most of my expertise is in teaching patrol tactics. I stayed in uniform.”

He said, “For six or seven years during my time with tactical, one of my areas of expertise was as a hazardous device technician. I trained through military to defuse bombs, and served on the bomb squad.

Carney said he was taking his wife out to dinner for their 10th wedding anniversary when he got a page reporting an explosive device in a garage next to the local mall.

“I told her I was going to swing by to see that it was all right,” he said.

The device proved to be a case of deteriorated dynamite. As dynamite ages it leaks nitroglycerin that puddles around it, and worse, forms crystals that will explode from even slight shock. Old dynamite kills people every year.

The situation was not “all right,” and turned into a 10-hour ordeal. He said, “We successfully removed it to a firing range in a neighboring town,” where the dynamite could be safely detonated. “We miscalculated the amount of dynamite, and blew out a number of windows” in buildings near the firing range.

Sometime during those hours Carney’s wife went home. Carney said he wasn’t popular with the neighbors, with the local police of the city around the firing range, or at home.

Carney said, “In this job your family doesn’t always come first; you put the safety and the good of the community first. It’s probably an example of why I’m no longer married.”

After he left the police force Carney was hired as the executive director of safety and facilities for the three campuses of Camden County College in New Jersey.

It’s a position that combines the jobs of Buildings and Grounds manager and director of police safety and emergency services.

Carney said the division of labor here in the Contra Costa Community College District is an advantage, allowing more hands-on work, rather than central management.

Carney said, “I have been an adjunct professor with Camden College for three or four years teaching criminal justice (online).”

Even now that he’s moved across the country he holds his old class down. “It’s a tough commute,” he joked.

“I preach the value of higher education, and I’m a strong proponent of education in law enforcement,” he said. The better educated police are, the better they can relate to their community. “If you want to command, if you want to move up the ladder, you don’t stop at a bachelor’s degree,” Carney said.

Police Services Lt. Chad Wehrmeister, the acting police chief during the search that led to Carney, said, “He’s a professional on every level, and (he’s) personable. I was on the team that helped find him and hire him. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. Not just in police work (specifically) public safety in a college environment. We’re lucky to have him.”

He said Carney is specialized to the district’s needs.

“He and I, as well as his command staff, frequently work late at night,” Wehrmeister said. “It’s the kind of dedication that’s not just needed, but expected in this line of work. Campus safety does not end at 5 p.m. It’s important for our college community to have access to (police services).”

Wehrmeister said, “He and I have both received emails, or messages, or calls at midnight, and the first thing we both do is call each other at the same time.”

Carney said, “About three years ago one of my three sons moved to Pasadena. I had the good fortune to come out west and visit. I had a great experience traveling north and south along the Coast Highway. I was intrigued by the vast amount of nature. The variety, from here to Yosemite.”

He said, “All my life I’ve been in New Jersey. I realized this was where I wanted to live.

“It was right about that time I started my job search. When the opportunity came along (to work here) I visited and really enjoyed the diversity of the district. The openness to that diversity (fascinates me). People here work together to make things better.”

Carney said he moved to California permanently on Feb. 7 and started (the new job) on Feb. 8.

“I’m very impressed (with the district), he said. “People are very welcoming, accepting of ideas and bring (their own) ideas to the table.”

Carney said, “The next part of my life is here. At no point of your life should you be satisfied with what you’ve accomplished. You grow by changing.”

Huff said Carney works to foster good relationships, and community policing.

“He talks about things that were above and beyond what you’d expect from a chief of police.”

Wehrmeister said, “His attention to detail when it comes to officer safety is really impressive and refreshing.”

Carney said, “I want to make a difference. Here is where I have chosen to make my stand. I have never met friendlier folks.”