With retirement, McCarthy family’s six decades of service to Greenfield PD concludes

  • Retiring Greenfield Police Lt. Dan McCarthy returns a salute as he walks between his fellow officers on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Retiring Greenfield Police Lt. Dan McCarthy walks up to sign off on the radio before walking between his fellow officers on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Retiring Greenfield Police Lt. Dan McCarthy signs off on the radio on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Retiring Greenfield PoliceLt. Dan McCarthy with his father, former Greenfield Police Chief David McCarthy, at his son’s sign-off with the force. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Retiring Greenfield Police Lt. Dan McCarthy with his wife, Monica. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 12/30/2022 5:54:58 PM

GREENFIELD — Lt. Dan McCarthy took a final radio call and a salute from his brethren at the end of his shift Friday afternoon, and when he is removed from the payroll on Jan. 6, the Police Department will be without a McCarthy for the first time since 1963.

David McCarthy retired as chief in 2003, 40 years after joining the department as a reserve officer, and stood in the parking lot at 321 High St. on Friday as his son joined him in the world of retirement. Deputy Chief William Gordon said the McCarthys leave a legacy “that will last for the life of the Police Department.”

The younger McCarthy formally signed off shortly after 2:40 p.m. and got his final salute from Gordon before exchanging badges and a hug with Lt. Todd Dodge. He walked down the parking lot flanked by colleagues saluting him and kissed his wife, Monica, who was joined by other family members and friends, as well as Fire Chief Robert Strahan. Police Chief Robert Haigh Jr. would typically give the final salute but was unable to attend on Friday.

McCarthy, 56, said he could have retired in December 2020 but was promoted from sergeant to acting lieutenant the previous April.

“So I figured I would transition and I would stay in the position,” he explained.

Sitting in a vehicle, McCarthy appeared to fight back tears as dispatcher Rebecca Jernigan marked the occasion with a prepared statement read over the radio. Jernigan mentioned McCarthy’s career of service started in the U.S. Air Force.

“You’ve dedicated well over three decades of your life to helping others,” Jernigan said. “You are considered to be the current father of this department and have held virtually every position this agency has to offer.”

Jernigan also said McCarthy has served as acting chief when necessary.

“The police officer mold was broken after you were granted the title,” she said. “Never did you change your philosophy on policing, management and teamwork, and all who worked under you felt safe and secure with you as their leader.”

McCarthy joined the department in April 1991. He said he looks forward to working in his garage, where he likes to “putz around.”

He mentioned he hopes his retirement lays to rest any controversy generated during his career. In 2015, McCarthy ruffled feathers when a Confederate battle flag was spotted inside his garage. Some in Greenfield demanded McCarthy be reprimanded or terminated because the flag, associated with racism and white supremacy, was visible to a Black youth who lived next door. The flag was hanging in the garage and visible only when the door was open.

More recently, a handful of residents called for McCarthy to be fired after it was learned that as a sergeant he had filed the original complaint against then-Officer Patrick Buchanan, who was appointed as a provisional sergeant on Jan. 13, 2015. Days after the promotion, Buchanan conducted a traffic stop involving an 18-year-old driver, to whom he issued a warning rather than a ticket.

McCarthy, who was the department’s liaison to Greenfield’s Human Rights Commission, heard about the traffic stop and left a letter for Lt. Joseph Burge, who is now retired, noting he had no issue with Buchanan’s decision to issue a warning until he learned this had been at least the fourth or fifth time the officer had handled a traffic stop in this manner. Buchanan was demoted and filed a lawsuit. On May 6, a Hampshire County Superior Court found that Chief Haigh and the Greenfield Police Department had racially discriminated against Buchanan. The city is now appealing the decision.

“Did I contemplate (retirement) during that whole mess? A little bit, but I didn’t want that to sway my decision,” McCarthy commented on Friday. “I’ve moved on.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or


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