With nearly 60 years of law enforcement experience between them, friends and co-workers Sgt. Val Chaban and Lt. Steve Carillo retired together Tuesday, fulfilling a pact made last year.
“We’re friends,” said Chaban, who spent 26 years with the Lodi Police Department. “We worked on SWAT for a long time. We were on the same shift for years together. Rode (motorcycles) together. There’s a lot of experience between us.”
In 1982, Carillo, who is retiring after 22 years with the Lodi PD, began working as a volunteer firefighter with the Marina Department of Public Safety in Monterey. The following year, he enrolled in the Marina Police Academy, and later worked as a dog handler in 1987. While with the Marina DPS, Carillo received the distinguished service award after he ran into a house that was on fire and rescued two children.
Carillo worked with the Marina DPS until 1991, when he joined the Lodi Police Department.
He continued working as a dog handler until 1999, when he became a motorcycle officer. In 2002, Carillo left motors after being promoted to patrol sergeant. Then, in 2004, he became Lodi’s first full-time motorcycle sergeant.
In 2007 Carillo was promoted to lieutenant, and in 2008 he enrolled in the FBI National Academy. There, he was awarded the Life Saving Award after performing CPR on a classmate who had a heart attack and wasn’t breathing.
From 2009 until he retired, Carillo worked as a support services lieutenant. During his career, Carillo received the Meritorious Service award for interrupting and capturing two armed robbers. Carillo was also honored with the Officer of the Year award in 2002 and the Chief’s Award.
“It’s been a great career,” Carillo said. “I’ve had more than my fair share of opportunities and it’s been great.”
Chaban graduated from the San Joaquin Delta College Police Academy and spent two years as a Delta College police officer before joining the Lodi PD in 1987.
In Lodi, he served as a motorcycle officer and member of the Honor Guard from 1990 to 1993. From 1993 to 1995, Chaban worked as a narcotics detective before joining the Combined Rural and City Narcotic Enforcement Team.
In 2001, he was promoted to corporal. He was assigned to personnel and training in 2008, and later became acting sergeant to oversee the Special Investigative Unit and General Investigative Unit from 2010 to 2012. In 2012 Chaban was promoted to sergeant and oversaw the field training officers.
He was selected as Officer of the Year in 1996 and also received the Life Saving Award from the Lodi Police Department for pulling a victim out of an area occupied by an armed suspect. He was also honored with the Meritorious Service Award.
After retiring, Carillo plans to spend more time with his family and the golf course. Meanwhile, Chaban will patrol the Lodi parks as a part-time police officer.
“I’m going to go out there and I’m going to put my spin on things and make sure there’s a better quality of life for people who enjoy the parks,” Chaban said. “That’s my ultimate goal.”
Carillo and Chaban recently answered a series of questions from News-Sentinel reporter Kristopher Anderson.
Why did you want to become a police officer?
Carillo: I never wanted to be a cop as a kid. My grandfather was a New York City police officer in the 1920s. My father was reserve officer for the Marina Department of Public Safety. My friend joined the police academy, and I figured if he can do it, I could do it. Who would have thought it’d last 30 years?
Chaban: I never wanted to be a police officer. It wasn’t until I was 21 and I was shot by a gang member. And from that point on, it made me re-evaluate where I wanted to be. It was that tragic event, and sometimes things like that tip the scales.
What factors have contributed to your success?
Carillo: One of the things I’ve been very lucky with is I’ve had support at home all the time. My wife has never given me grief about my assignments ever. I’ve been on-call since we’ve been married until last year, and she’s never given me grief. That’s the reason my career has been as successful as it’s been. I’m very lucky to have her.
How do you see the department changing over the coming years?
Chaban: Our experience levels are drastically affected, not only by us leaving, but also by the hiring of new officers. Obviously there’s going to be that learning curve. There are going to be those hurdles that the department is going to have to contend with. But it’s not impossible. They can keep it going. It takes time to get everybody up to speed. It’s unprecedented times for us.
After more than two decades, what are your thoughts on the Lodi Police Department?
Carillo: This is the best police department that I’ve ever seen or worked for, because it’s like a family. Everybody is a family. Everybody is going to help you out one way or the other. We say hi to everybody. I’m very honored to have worked here.
Chaban: This is a special department. When I worked on the task force, I worked with other agencies in the county, if not outside the county because that was part of my duties. And I’m going to tell you we provide a service that is unlike any other to the citizens here in Lodi. It’s unprecedented. They get an excellent service (from) excellent officers. And there’s no better community. I wouldn’t live anywhere else. The city has been good to us.
How has Lodi changed since you’ve been here?
Chaban: It’s grown quite a bit. And word was getting out — “Don’t commit crimes in Lodi” — because they knew what was ultimately going to happen. They’d be thrown in jail. It was a nice luxury to have our own jail for us as officers, because we could take that burden off our hands and get back out there and do what we have to do.
How has the economy affected the department?
Carillo: During the (hard) economic times, we didn’t stop any services. We lost people. We lost positions and everyone took on more responsibilities so we could make sure everyone still got the same service. We’re still short-staffed and we’re still doing it.
Chaban: We were all wearing many hats. We have the type of individuals in this agency who can overcome adversity and fight through it and do what’s best for the organization and the community.
Steve, tell me about being in charge of the Lodi Animal Shelter.
Carillo: The place I had the most impact and made the most changes is my current assignment with the animal shelter. We were lucky enough to get into a professional service agreement with People Assisting Lodi Shelter, which was the greatest thing we could have ever done as a city. They have turned our animal shelter around 180 degrees. Having our euthanasia rates the lowest in the county and our adoption rate the highest is something I’ll be proud of.
Do you feel fortunate to reach retirement?
Chaban: There are officers today who are never going to feel the feeling we have because they gave their lives. In many ways, this is special for us because it’s a tough profession. Society is more violent than it’s ever been.
Carillo: Most of us believe in guardian angels. Since I started in law enforcement, 390 police officers in California have been killed in the line of duty. We’re very fortunate. And my family and (Chaban’s) family get to retire, too.
What was your most rewarding assignment?
Chaban: I’d say my time as a training officer, developing the new officers to where they are today. It’s a passion I had to get them developed to the point where they were safe, competent and had a good work ethic.
Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.