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After a month on the job, Galt’s new lieutenant, Brian Vizzusi, finding his way around city

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Posted: Thursday, July 1, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 7:59 pm, Thu Jul 1, 2010.

Since he was 5 years old, Brian Vizzusi knew he wanted to be a police officer.

His father was a San Jose Police lieutenant, other relatives also worked in law enforcement and Vizzusi never had any doubts about his own future. As soon as he was old enough to become an officer, he followed in the family footsteps.

Now, 26 years after starting his first job, Vizzusi has become one of Galt’s two lieutenants, who are next in line to the chief. The city conducted a statewide search for a new lieutenant, hiring a consulting firm that ranked the candidates. Vizzusi’s name was at the top of the firm’s list, and then the police chief and city manager interviewed the top four candidates.

“Both of us felt that Brian’s professional experience, attitude and professionalism were the best fit,” Chief Loren Cattolico said. A factor weighing in Vizzusi’s favor was his experience in running a police budget, Cattolico said. Vizzusi has previous sergeant and lieutenant experience, and he spent the past six years as Lincoln’s police chief.

In February he parted ways with the city of Lincoln, where he was chief until he and city officials had different ideas for the police department’s future. Job recruiters and Cattolico vetted that matter and determined it was only a “political difference,” Cattolico said, noting that Vizzusi passed background, physical and psychological tests.

For Vizzusi’s part, he’s happy to be working in Galt. When he learned of the job opening, he did some research and learned that in fall 2008, despite economic woes, Galt residents voted for a sales tax increase to fund more police officers.

“I wanted to work for a more economically secure city,” he said.

He had gone to work for Lincoln’s police department as a lieutenant, then became chief when the position opened. A few years later the city began making a number of changes. Vizzusi said he became frustrated when eight officers, or 16 percent of the force, were laid off, and that four more were scheduled to follow.

In the meantime, Galt was looking for a lieutenant to replace Ken Erickson, who retired in December. The job requirements included a bachelor’s degree, which Vizzusi holds in vocational education from California State University, Long Beach.

He got the job and started June 1. Now, after a month, he’s learning his way around Galt and getting to know everyone in the department.

“The people here are nice. The officers are very professional,” he said.

Because the department is small enough, lieutenants sometimes handle calls, too. “I still like being a cop,” Vizzusi said.

He’s overseeing support services, which includes detectives, records and dispatchers. The job also includes budgeting for the whole department of 36 sworn officers and 14 civilian employees.

“I try to get another lieutenant to know the budget as well as I do so, with that many moving people, we have another set of eyes,” Cattolico said.

The other lieutenant, Jim Uptegrove, oversees operations, including all patrol officers. At some point they’ll probably rotate for a time, to get a different perspective, Cattolico said.

Vizzusi has put in some long hours during his first month, but he doesn’t seem too upset about it. He still has time for his four children, and also gets in some mountain biking. He plans to continue teaching at Sierra College, where his eldest son is attending the fire academy.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

Lt. Brian Vizzusi at a glance

Age: 46.

Family: Two sons, ages 20 and 9; two daughters, ages 17 and 14.

Residence: Currently living in Elk Grove, considering moving permanently closer to the Galt area.

Education: Grew up in San Jose, where he attended school. Bachelor’s degree in vocational education, for teaching, from California State University, Long Beach.

Professional experience: Redwood City police officer from 1984 to 1989. Wanted to move from Bay Area and start a family, so found a job with the Woodland Police Department, including a stint on motorcycle patrol, from 1989 to 1992. Settled in Rocklin and took a job there as a sergeant from 1992 to 2004. Went to Lincoln Police Department as a lieutenant in 2004, then became chief until February 2010. Started June 1 as Galt lieutenant.

Other activities: Mountain biking; restoring old cars, especially Ford Mustangs; hiking; physical fitness.

— News-Sentinel staff.

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