After 32 years in law enforcement, Vacaville police Chief John Carli will be hanging up his badge.
His official last day is April 16, though he will be using accumulated leave time to step back from active duty as of Tuesday.
Capt. Ian Schmutzler will helm the Police Department until an interim chief is chosen.
“It’s time,” Carli said Friday. “Thirty two years ago this month I applied for Vacaville… I never looked back.”
It’s been a great career filled with an abundance of opportunity, he advised. But, bottom line, it all comes down to one thing.
“People,” he said. “Caring for people. That’s what it’s all about.”
The location, too, has been a blessing.
“Vacaville’s a unique place, he emphasized, pausing a moment while reflecting. “It’s special.”
After all, it’s not only the place where he launched and grew his career,but also where he and his wife, Joanne, made a home, raised their children and their grandchildren.
“It’s about being part of a community. I’ve enjoyed seeing the city grow,” he continued. “It’s a place where people want to thrive.”
Carli was hired by then-Chief Gary Tatum in 1989. He worked patrol, became a K-9 officer and later its supervisor, served as a field training officer and later as a detective in the Investigations unit. He promoted to sergeant in 2003 and would later oversee patrol, the Critical Incident Negotiation Team, firearms instructors, police technology
and the Office of Professional Standards.
Carli promoted to lieutenant in 2010. As a self-described “tech geek,” he led to a Vacaville “first,” that of wearing body cameras, which gained national recognition by the United States Department of Justice.
In 2014, he was promoted to police chief.
Carli said his affinity for technology has led to a revamped computer-aided dispatch system, a new radio system, digital forensics capabilities, an officer safety and wellness phone application that he helped to design and more.
His vision is to keep improving in every aspect, he said, from hiring and training to best practices in policy and more.
Always an advocate, Carli said he can’t help but speak out. That led to a 2016 invitation to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama in the wake of national high profile policing events and civil unrest.
He has also helped shaped legislation regarding use of force and de-escalation techniques; led the city’s homeless roundtable, which brings people from throughout the county together; formed the Community Response Team, which deals with quality of life and homeless issues; among other things.
Under his leadership, the Police Department was recognized as the 2020 top agency in the nation by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation, receiving the “Destination Zero” Officer Safety and Wellness award.
Carli is an Executive Fellow with the National Police Foundation, represents the California Police Chief’s Association as the chair of the California Data Sharing Task Force and is a member of the California Attorney General’s Advisory Committee.
He attributes the success of the department to its staff, who he says has a passion for people.
“This department is made up of some of the finest women and men I know,” he shared, citing their creativity and innovation and caring, their willingness to put on the badge every day and put their lies on the line to protect their community. Especially in difficult times.
Last year was rough due to the pandemic, protests of national police brutality, and more. Challenges remain, he said, though he expressed confidence in his people to keep Vacaville safe.
“I am confident in our command staff. I am confident in our leadership here,” the chief said, adding that he’s enjoyed watching his staff grow and mature.
“It’s been an honor to serve this community,” Carli said. “I will miss just the faces and the cheerful conversations. I love my job, but it’s time to let the next generation do it. They’re ready.”
City Manager Aaron Busch praised the chief.
“Chief Carli has dedicated his career to Vacaville, and we thank him for his unwavering
commitment to community safety,” he said in a press statement. “He brought Vacaville several innovative approaches to public safety and has guided us through a challenging period with exemplary leadership. We wish him a satisfying and relaxing retirement.”
Mayor Ron Rowlett also thanked Carli for his service.
“I’m just incredibly happy for John. This has been a fantastic career and he’s been a wonderful chief,” Rowlett said. “We appreciate everything he’s done and everything he’s going to be doing. I’m just excited for him and his family.”