GREELEY, Colo. — A Greeley police officer credits his job and his hobby as a blacksmith with helping him win a reality TV show on The History Channel.
Officer John McNerney is a Greeley K-9 handler. He says his dog, Cairo, is a secret weapon.
“It’s absolutely amazing how much the dog just helps us apprehending people and everyone being safe. He has surprised me beyond my imagination by how much he solves problems on the streets. We’ll have people who are hard-core criminals fighting us, don’t want to give up. The dog will find them and when they find out the dog is here, they’ll be like, ‘alright, I’m done’,” McNerney said.
McNerney also has a secret talent. Before he was an officer, he was a blacksmith and horseshoer.
“I really got into it. I competed as a horseshoer all over the country,” he said.
His talent is not a secret anymore. He was recently on the The History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” reality show.
“It was fun to have a project, a time constraint and the judges watching and all the cameras there,” McNerney said.
He went up against some of the best bladesmiths as they tried to recreate some of history’s most iconic swords. He had to make Gen. George Patton’s saber.
“It was the last saber that was issued to the U.S military,” McNerney said.
A panel of judges put the contestants through several rounds, testing their weapons for durability and design under the bright lights and time constraints.
McNerney says it wasn’t nearly as difficult as his days of horseshoe competitions.
“I got a lot of experience for being under the gun, competing really hard. That experience helped me with ‘Forged in Fire’ because I didn’t have to make a complete horseshoe. I just had to make a pointy thing and attach it to something. This is a lot easier than making a horseshoe,” he said.
Moreover, McNerney says his work as a police officer helped keep him calm under pressure.
“Everyone was excited. You’re on national TV and there’s stress of you don’t want to lose in front of everybody type thing. It’s not as stressful as what is happening on the real street, so that experience and training helped me in the competition. The other guys were so excited, they couldn’t think straight. I was able to focus in and get to work,” he said.
He won the competition and earned $10,000.
He said of his coworkers at the Greeley Police Department, “I think they’re all proud of me. Of course, they make fun of me. We’re cops, right? So we tease each other pretty good.”