“Those front stairs went on forever,” said Police Detective Paul McCarthy ’86 of Saugus, when asked about his memories of GCC. Detective McCarthy’s route to GCC was less typical than many of the college’s alumni, and the career that followed paved a new pathway to work in Criminal Justice.
McCarthy grew up in Newton, where a Junior High School experience began his journey. A teacher from his Media Communications class was an influence, sparking an interest in videography and digital art. That teacher was also a GCC alum and suggested McCarthy consider enrolling there to study Media Arts. McCarthy enrolled in 1984, taking the first step in what turned out to be his life’s work in law enforcement. “I really enjoyed my time at GCC ,” he said. “I was very involved in Project TEME with Professor Dan LaRose and otherwise pretty much never left the Ed Tech Department run by Tom Boisvert.”
After graduation, McCarthy accepted a job at an MIT research lab, providing technology support to their education programs. That work included government contracts for the U.S. Space Program, which required Top Secret clearance and from there he “got the bug” to pursue work in law enforcement.
His next stop was a part-time position as a Patrol Officer for the Chelsea Housing Authority, which later became full-time after completing the Police Academy. While at the Chelsea Housing Authority Police, he worked with the Suffolk County Drug Task Force for three years, then the North Suffolk Gang Task Force for another five years.
“I never stopped using the skills I acquired at GCC,” he asserted. “It really gave me a competitive edge. When I was on the Gang Task Force, we used a lot of video and electronic equipment for surveillance and I was always the ‘go-to’ guy to set that up.” He recalled a ‘fake house’ the department set up with hidden cameras and microphones for drug buys where he provided all the tech support.
The move from Chelsea Patrol Officer to Detective involved other intersections of his law enforcement and media training. In 2000, McCarthy designed and installed a surveillance camera system for the Chelsea Housing Authority. He later became their Director of Public Safety until he transitioned in 2007 to full time Police Officer for the Chelsea Police Department.
The last step was in February of this year when McCarthy was hand selected with three other officers to staff the new Street Crimes Unit of the Criminal Investigations Division, in response to a rise in street level robberies. This promotion included the change in rank to Detective and McCarthy appreciates the confidence placed in him. “It is a prestigious assignment and I was honored to be selected,” he said.
Paul McCarthy is a proud GCC alum, but a prouder dad. His daughter is a nurse at Mass General Hospital and his son is currently pursuing a career in law enforcement. McCarthy is pleased to be reconnected to GCC through the Alumni Association and is planning a trip back to see the renovated campus and reconnect with the GCC community.