Public Safety Lieutenant takes pride in service

Emily Files '14

October 21, 2011

For Emerson College Public Safety Lieutenant Carl Yancey, serving and protecting are two words to live by. The 6’ 7’’, silver-haired officer was a collegiate athlete, a military ranger, and the first African-American to become a Massachusetts State Police Officer. After a total of 35 years serving his country and state, Yancey came to work at Emerson in 2002 as a public safety officer.

Yancey’s career began in an unexpected way. As a student at Delaware State University, he was involved in the civil rights movement, participating in freedom marches and rallies. In 1964, Yancey was arrested for participating in a march protesting segregated busing in Selma, Alabama. His college years were cut short when he went to court for the incident and was given an ultimatum: three years in jail or three years in the army. Yancey chose the army.

Carl Yancey
Carly Yancey spent 32 years as a Masachusetts State Police officer before coming to work for Emerson Public Safety.

The Stoneham, Massachusetts native, who had previously wanted to play professional football, was then set on a different career path. After three years in the army, one of which he served as a ranger in Vietnam, Yancey applied to the Massachusetts State Police force. The Department was actively recruiting minorities at the time and Yancey was the first African-American trooper hired.

“It was rough at the beginning. It involved a few disagreements with people,” Yancey recalled, “but the army prepared me to deal with these kind of situations, because it hadn’t long been desegregated [when I served].”

George Noonan, Chief of Emerson College Public Safety, has known Yancey since 2002 and has worked with him since 2005. He said that Yancey not only paved the road for African Americans in the State Police force, but did it with grace. Noonan explained that he knows many people who served with Yancey in the State Police who regard him very highly.

While in the State Police, Yancey served as a road trooper and as one of the first officers in the Gang Unit. The Gang Unit was created when gang violence increased after the Boston Busing Crisis, according to Yancey. He said his years serving in the Gang Unit were the best part of his career.

In 2003, Yancey retired from the State Police after 32 years of service. Two of his three children were getting ready to go to college at the time, so Yancey looked for another job in Boston to help with tuition bills. He was hired by former Emerson Public Safety Chief Bill McCabe to work as an Emerson public safety officer. Yancey advanced to his current position of evening shift lieutenant in 2009.

Yancey said former police officers have to shift their demeanors to be less authoritative and gentler when they come to a college and start working with students.

Noonan believes Yancey’s personality is very conducive to being a college public safety officer. “He is so cool, calm, collected and very laid back. He knows how to bring the anxiety down in a situation,” Noonan said.

Yancey thoroughly enjoys his job at Emerson, he said, but the time for him to retire for good is around the corner in two or three years. He plans to move to North Carolina, where some of his relatives reside.

Looking back on his long career of serving and protecting, Yancey expressed his happiness. “I’ve done things to help minority people advance, I’ve done things to help other people advance, and I’ve done things to make my mother and father proud of me.”