Chief Steve McCarthy at borough hall in November, 2011. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


Red Bank Police Chief Steve McCarthy died Monday morning following an extended battle with cancer. He was 50 years old.

McCarthy died at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he had been hospitalized in recent weeks, Mayor Pasquale Menna confirmed.

“I have lost a good friend and invaluable partner,” Menna said in a statement released at noontime. “The police department has been deprived of the spirited leadership and unstinted dedication of the most consummate law enforcement professional in the state. His fellow borough employees have lost a colleague who was a true friend. The residents of Red Bank have been deprived of an intelligent, gracious, gentle and efficient public servant.”

“The whole department is beside itself with grief,” police Commissioner and Council President Art Murphy told redbankgreen. “Everybody in [borough hall] is taking it very hard.”

steve mccarthy 121112Chief Steve McCarthy in his office last December. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

McCarthy was diagnosed earlier this year with anaplastic thyroid cancer, a fast-moving and incurable cancer.

A resident of West Long Branch, McCarthy leaves behind a wife, Mary Ellen, and two children, Matthew and Jenna.

The son of a Jersey City cop, McCarthy grew up in Eatontown. Days after graduating from Rutgers with a bachelor’s degree in the administration of justice in May 1986, he joined the Red Bank police as a patrolman.

Over the course of his 27 years with the department, McCarthy held line and supervisory jobs in the patrol, records and detective divisions. He became a sergeant in 1996, a lieutenant in 2003, and was promoted to captain in June, 2007.

For several years before succeeding Mark Fitzgerald as chief, he served as the department’s spokesman.

McCarthy was widely praised for his gentle nature and quiet manner of winning respect.

“The chief was more than the police chief,” said Murphy. “Everybody in borough hall confided in, from public works to finance. He was good to everyone. He knew how to handle pressure, that’s for sure.

“We had a lot of plans for that guy,” he said.

Murphy said the “toughest 45 minutes” of his life were accompanying McCarthy to Menna’s house last spring to tell the mayor that the chief had incurable cancer.

“Nothing rattled him,” Murphy said. “He was a good example for everyone at borough hall.”

At McCarthy’s swearing-in at borough hall in January, 2010, then-Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw said McCarthy’s most distinctive quality was his “heart” for both people and the quality of work. “What separates him is how much he cares,” Warshaw told the standing-room audience.

Captain Darren McConnell has been named to serve as interim chief, officials said.

Borough flags will be flown at half-staff in McCarthy’s honor, Menna said.

Here is Menna’s full statement on McCarthy’s passing.