WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Fitting with the name of the county he lives in, a Weld County man is being recognized as one of the best talents in forging. Greeley police officer John McNerney recently won $10,000 on the History Channel’s reality show “Forged in Fire.” The show documents a series of timed challenges involving metal crafting metals in to items like swords, tools and more.
McNerney is a nationally recognized K-9 handler, but he grew up around horses and making horseshoes. He started a career in forging but moved on to law enforcement, making forging his hobby on the side.
“It’s more enjoyable now that I don’t have to make a living with it,” McNerney told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “Being able to create something with your hands, and with forging the fire and steel is pretty cool.”
A film crew recorded content in the garage of his rural Weld County home’s garage. He was also taken to another location to compete in-person with other contestants. He won episode two of season seven, after forging a tribute to General Patton’s saber.
McNerney said he was encouraged to take on the show by his family, and his three sons.
“I got three boys that I am raising, and they encouraged me to enter this competition,” McNerney said. “All the sounds, and the smells, and everything was very familiar and a lot of fun.”
McNerney credited his career in law enforcement for helping him win on the show. He said training under pressure in law enforcement allowed him to compete under the pressure of the show with ease.
“We didn’t know what we were going to make until they literally unveiled it. We ended up having two hours to make the weapon,” McNerney said. “Being a police officer, we train to be able to think and make decisions under pressure. And, when I was on the show, everything was under pressure.”
While it was fun for McNerney to test his skills under deadline, and among others, he said one of the best parts of the experience was the message is sent to his young children.
“I really wanted to show my boys that you can go out there, you can compete, and you can win,” McNerney said.
This isn’t the first big win for the officer. McNerney and his dog Cairo were recognized with two awards for outstanding service by the National Police Canine Association in 2018, according to the Greeley Tribune.
“Each quarter, the organization presents two awards — one to recognize a canine-handler team for finding drugs, and another to acknowledge a team for more general police work. It is rare for the same canine-handler team to earn both awards in a quarter. It is rarer still for the team to win both awards for calls they handled in a single night, as McNerney and Cairo did,” the paper reported.
McNerney and Cairo were featured in a YouTube video about the Greeley Police K-9 Unit in October.