BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — In Carole Germano’s 28 years as a Danvers police officer, one day stands out: Sept. 11, 2001.
“When the planes hit the towers, I got called in to do all the composites at Logan Airport,” said Germano, who retired recently as a police lieutenant.
A few months before the attack, Germano had attended an FBI Academy training program on forensic facial imaging. At the time, there were only a couple of people who had gone through this course in the state, Germano said, so the FBI called her to the airport.
She made composite drawings from accounts of airport and hotel employees who had seen the terrorists who hijacked planes flying out of Boston. The drawings helped determine who the terrorists were, where they were located at the airport and what planes they flew on.
Many people watched the planes hitting the towers over and over on TV, horrified and unable to do anything to help.
“I didn’t have to do that,” Germano said. “I was actually able to help, and that made me feel better.” Her drawings helped ID the terrorists.
When she joined the Danvers Police Department as a reserve officer in 1985, Germano, now 55, was only the second woman to be hired. She became a full-time officer in 1987, a detective in 1999, a sergeant in 2006 and a lieutenant in 2007, working as a shift commander until her last day May 7.
“Law enforcement was something I looked at ever since I was a little kid,” Germano said. “I think it was my calling, you know. I remember when I was in sixth grade I was captain of the crossing guards ... I just always wanted to be a police officer.”
Now a Beverly resident, Germano grew up in Lynn; her family moved to Danvers just before she enlisted in the Army in 1978. She served four years of active duty as a medic, and another six in the Army Reserve.
After taking the civil service exam, she jumped to the top of the list in Danvers and was offered a job. While she may have broken barriers by being one of the first women officers on the force, she did so by simply doing her job.
“I think every woman who was on the job at that time was a barrier breaker,” Germano said. “Not just myself. I didn’t go into the position as a barrier breaker, I just went into the position because that was what I wanted to do.”
She had to overcome some resistance from other officers at first, but she did that by proving she could do the job, not complaining to higher-ups.
“I think women now are an essential part of policing,” Germano said. “They bring different traits to the table.”
One of the most high-profile cases she worked was that of serial child molester Christopher Reardon, accused of abusing 24 boys he met through church, Boy Scouts and the YMCA. Germano worked for the state police out of the Essex County District Attorney’s office on the case, and testified before the grand jury at Reardon’s dangerousness hearing. She and other officers worked 15-hour days for a few months on the case, and Reardon eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2001 to 30 to 40 years in prison.
Germano’s retirement follows that of several veteran officers in recent years, including Officer Brian Casparian in March.
“I absolutely love police work,” Germano said. While she has not closed the door to working in law enforcement in some capacity, someday, Germano, who likes art and design, has started her own business staging homes for sale or redesigning them.
“I felt it was important to leave my comfort zone,” Germano said of her retirement. “... I don’t think you can move on until you leave your comfort zone.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.