He will present the program Wednesday at noon. The brown bag series theme is “Another Place, Another Time.”
“Chris is an incredible presenter,” library director Dr. Shirley Spears said. “He has had rave reviews about his documentary on the Sylacauga Police Department and many of the compliments have come from people who are not Sylacauga natives. His realistic representation of our small town force is in many ways a microcosm of those groups of brave men and women across our nation who lay their lives on the line daily to protect others.”
The department’s history is filled with memorable officers, exciting events and heroic moments, Spears said.
“Chris has spent many hours ferreting out the threads of almost 100 years of service from a long line of officers — the ‘thin blue line’ that has separated our society from anarchy,” Spears said.
Using photographs, memorabilia and great stories, Carden chronicles the nearly 100 years of history of the Police Department.
Spears said the photographs alone make the program worth attending.
“The chronicle of the service of the Sylacauga Police Department will be entertaining as well as educational, with stories of shootouts at the local train station; bank robbers armed with potatoes carved into pistols; and the rare incident of Chief Red Ashcraft helping the United States government retrieve the meteorite that crashed through a roof and struck a napping woman, Ann Hodges,” Spears said.
Carden said his work with the department fulfills a lifelong ambition, saying, “Even as a little boy, I wanted to be a police officer and I’ve always stayed with that dream. While I was growing up, my dad, Butch Carden, operated Carden’s Waffle King on 280 and he also ran the police radio at City Hall.
“My dad allowed me to sit in the radio room with him and I soon became familiar with all the policemen. Capts. Juliano, Denney, Hosey and Brasher would occasionally let me ride with patrol officers and in addition, a local state trooper, Robert Watson, took me under his wing and taught me some of the fundamentals of patrol work. My grandfather Hubert ‘Babe’ Carden was a Sylacauga patrolman prior to World War II and later operated Carden’s Auto Parts on Norton with his brother, Warrior Carden.”
After high school, Carden enlisted in the Army as a military policeman. He attended basic training and MP School at Ft. McClellan. While in the service he was stationed in Germany and served in Desert Storm, the first Gulf War.
Once his military stint was over, Carden came home and went to work for the Talladega County Sheriff’s Department as a jailer. He was there a short time when the Sylacauga Police Department offered him a patrolman’s job in 1994. His first assignment after the police academy was night shift patrol.
Since joining the department, Carden has served in many capacities, including investigator, crime prevention officer, shift supervisor, Northeast Precinct commander, Watch commander and chief investigator.
He was promoted to sergeant in 1999, to lieutenant in 2002 and became the Operations commander and second in command after his promotion to captain in 2009.
He was named Sylacauga’s interim police chief Dec. 1, 2011.
Carden is an active member of First United Methodist Church, where he is a member of the praise and worship band. He is also involved in the Alabama Emmaus Community, is a member of the Alabama Association of Police Chiefs, the FBI National Academy Associates, and the Sylacauga Chess Club.
His wife, Amy, is a registered nurse and supervisor in the home health field. The Cardens have four teenage daughters and live in Sylacauga.
The “Another Place, Another Time” brown bag series is sponsored by SouthFirst Bank.
The refreshment room opens at 11 a.m. and participants are invited to bring a sandwich and enjoy drinks and desserts provided by the library.
Spears said working people are invited to come by on their lunch break to enjoy the program, which begins at noon in the Harry I. Brown Auditorium.