Closing the books on a three-decade career in law enforcement, Lt. Joe Carrillo has retired from the Oakdale Police Department.
He spent 28 years with Oakdale, after initially starting his career with the Stanislaus County Marshall’s Office. He spent two years there, working around the court system and then moved on to Oakdale, going to work for his hometown police department.
He never felt the need to leave – until now, though retirement is what beckons, as opposed to moving to a new department.
Friday, Sept. 6 was Carrillo’s last day on the job and the department feted him with a special gathering that included cake, a compilation of photos from the years and remarks from a variety of contemporaries.
He thought his career path would go a different way, perhaps entering physical therapy or becoming a paramedic, but he said law enforcement ultimately became the choice.
He said among his most memorable cases worked locally was an embezzlement case where “I got to help out some elderly people” when an arrest was made, helping some senior citizens regain some financial security in their later years.
As is the case with many officers in small departments, Carrillo wore many hats and filled a variety of roles. He also spent some time with the SDEA, Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency.
“I had the opportunity to work some federal drug cases,” he said of his time with SDEA.
Through the years, Carrillo has also served as a K9 officer, a Field Training Officer and was a SWAT team member. He worked in investigations for several years and started a narcotics unit at the OPD as well as serving for a time as the Police Officers Association, POA, President.
He also has worked with a number of chiefs during his tenure and said each one has brought specific skills to the department.
As far as major budget cuts during the recession, when several officers were laid off and the department budget reduced, he credited the residents of the community for continuing to support the officers and said those remaining in the department also served as a support system for each other, helping to see each other through the lean times.
“Right now we’re at full staff on patrol,” he said of the state of the department. “We’ve also hired some homegrown products as well.”
He said the department has improved its resources and cooperates well with neighboring agencies and has a lot to offer.
Basically, he added, it comes down to leadership.
“If that leader is grounded in law, policy and procedure and is service minded, it’s going to work,” Carrillo said.
Married, Carrillo and his wife Janelle have four adult children and five grandchildren. He noted his wife’s support through the years as being key to his success.
A 1986 graduate of Oakdale High School – where he played football, basketball and baseball – Carrillo said he is looking forward to spending more time with family in his retirement. He also said he feels the department is moving forward and is confident that voters in Oakdale will support the upcoming Measure H, which will continue to provide funding for emergency services. He pointed to grant money the department has for expansion and equipment upgrades as being important for the future.
“I see nothing but good things for the department,” he said.
He also doesn’t plan to be a stranger to his former workplace.
“I have no regrets at all, I’ve had a charmed career, I really have,” Carrillo said. “I’ll miss my police family but I’ll definitely keep in touch.”