VACAVILLE — It would be an understatement to say that Lt. John Carli was simply “pleased” at his appointment to the top law enforcement position in Vacaville.
“I can honestly tell you, inside I was doing backflips,” he said. “It was very surreal.”
Vacaville announced his appointment as police chief Wednesday after a search that brought in 39 applicants with Carli, a 25-year veteran of the department, being the lone internal applicant. He will take the helm April 16.
He called the interview and selection process “grueling” yet also “humbling and demanding” with time for self-reflection in the midst of what he called “a lot of qualified candidates”
“I never took the process lightly,” he said. “For me it was a real accomplishment to be considered a finalist.”
City Manager Laura Kuhn said the three top candidates were all strong, viable candidates but Carli “came out on top.”
“We got to the end of the process and it was easy to make the decision,” she said.
Kuhn said she was not surprised he applied because it was a natural next step for him. Carli started in 1989 as a patrol officer with the Vacaville Police Department. He worked pretty much every position in his 25 years.
As a lieutenant, Carli said he filled the role of second in command for several years under the man he’ll replace, Chief Richard Word.
While hiring from within did not shave down the application and interview process, it did eliminate a lengthy background check, which allowed for the hiring announcement earlier than planned. It will also allow for a more seamless transition, making it easier not just for Kuhn but for the Police Department as well, she said. There is “lots of internal support for him,” she said.
“We know what we’re getting,” she said of Carli. “He is a very smart man who has great people skills . . . (and is) well-liked in the department.”
Interim Chief Randy Ulibarri has led the department since November, when Word retired. Word spent 29 years in law enforcement, nine of those with Vacaville.
Kuhn said Ulibarri will stay with the department until the end of April to keep the department running while Carli focuses on backfilling needed positions due to his internal promotion.
Carli reminisced briefly Wednesday about being hired as a “young kid” by former Chief Gary Tatum. He said Tatum gave him “a chance” and since then he and his family – his wife and two grown daughters – have set down roots in Vacaville, roots he wasn’t willing to dig up, he said. Remaining in Vacaville and serving the community are important to him.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity and recognize what a privilege this is,” he said.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.