Lompoc Police Chief Joe Mariani will retire at the end of the month after more than three years leading the department.
Mariani has held the top job since March 2019, replacing Chief Pat Walsh, who left to lead the formation of the Menifee Police Department. Walsh has since retired.
“Joe is one of the best leaders and team builders I have ever met,” City Manager Dean Albro said in a written statement. “He has been more than just the chief of police here; he is someone who truly cares about his department and the community, and when you are around him, it shows.
“I know the chief leaves behind an exceptional department that will ensure the continuation of excellent public safety service to our community. We thank Chief Mariani for his many years of service and wish him the very best in retirement.”
Mariani came out of retirement in 2015 to become a Lompoc police captain after previously spending 34 years with the Los Angeles Police Department.
In Lompoc, he became the city’s first Hispanic and bilingual police chief.
During his tenure as chief, Mariani was able to fully staff the police department for the first time in seven years.
Among his numerous accomplishments, Mariani collaborated with neighbor agencies to replace dated equipment and address quality-of-life issues in the city. He also implemented most of the recommendations made in 2018 by the Office of Independent Review, including the full implementation of the department’s succession plan.
“I have enjoyed my time with the Lompoc Police Department, and am blessed and fortunate to have served with outstanding colleagues and for the wonderful Lompoc community,” Mariani said. “The members of the Lompoc Police Department serve with distinction and have a level of commitment that is commendable and unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The Lompoc community is in good hands with this police department.”
He worked a variety of assignments within the Los Angeles department, including patrol officer, narcotics officer, D.A.R.E officer, vice officer, internal affairs investigator, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain.
Beginning in 2007, Mariani managed the recruitment and hiring process for the Los Angeles agency.
In addition, Mariani has been a member of numerous professional organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Capt. Kevin Martin will serve as interim police chief until the position is permanently filled, city officials said Thursday.