Longtime San Mateo Deputy Police Chief Mike Callagy is leaving the force to become a deputy county manager focused on criminal justice issues like state prisoner realignment.
“I’m very excited about working at the County Manager’s Office,” Callagy said. “Life takes you on different paths sometimes and this is an outstanding opportunity.”
County leaders are also excited to welcome Callagy aboard.
“The alleged criminal justice system isn’t really a system at all but a group of disparate parts. We need someone who can bring it together as a system and Mike can bring a really strategic point of view,” said Don Horsley, president of the Board of Supervisors. Horsley also sat on the three-person interview team.
Callagy, 51, retires from San Mateo Nov. 11 after 29-and-a-half years and begins with the county Nov. 11.
“When you love your job, you don’t want to take a break. I love being a cop but I really look forward to becoming a deputy county manager and getting to work on some countywide issues,” Callagy said.
Callagy, who joined the police department fresh from college and has numerous degrees including law, will fill the void left by the retirement earlier this year of former deputy county manager Mary McMillan. Supervisor Carole Groom, who worked with Callagy when she sat on the San Mateo City Council, called him a “good strategic thinker” and all-around great guy.”
County Manager John Maltbie wants diversity on his team which Callagy will contribute, Groom said.
An email notice of Callagy’s pending exit made the rounds to San Mateo city employees but San Mateo County has not yet made its formal announcement.
The county’s job posting for the position lists the salary range as $158,954 to $198,702.
The posting states that the deputy county manager in charge of criminal justice realignment will pursue new initiatives, evaluate policy to ensure the county is best using its resources, monitor the performance of his assigned departments and keep the county manager informed of the overall condition of criminal justice-related programs and issues.
Fourteen people applied for the job and two were interviewed by District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, County Counsel John Beiers and himself, Horsley said.
While Horsley joked that he had to make clear to Callagy that in his new job he’ll no longer be able to simply order people to do things. But Horsley said Callagy has many transferable skills honed through decades with the department and overseeing projects both successful and less so like the attempt to merge police services with the city of Burlingame.
“A lot of things he’s done in San Mateo are pretty admirable,” Horsley said.
Groom also pointed to Callagy’s experience with budgets and thinks he’ll bring an interesting perspective and new set of eyes to allocating the Measure A half-cent sales tax revenue.
Callagy graduated from Notre Dame de Namur University in 1984 and simultaneously joined the San Mateo Police Department and enrolled in law school at Santa Clara University.
In 2007, the department named then-captain Callagy to the newly-created role of deputy chief and, in 2010, the San Mateo City Council approved a contract to let him take over the Burlingame Police Department for a year while the two cities mulled a shared services agreement. However, subsequent study showed a merger would result in less savings than originally projected and Callagy returned solely to San Mateo while interim Burlingame police chief Ed Wood was named to the permanent post in 2011.
Callagy said the decision to apply for the job was “mutual” between him and the county.
Callagy’s departure isn’t a huge surprise because he has been courted by other cities previously and is very talented, said San Mateo Mayor Jack Matthews.
“We created the position of deputy chief for him in hopes of keeping him longer and it worked for a while but we are grateful for the length of time he stayed and really wish him well,” Matthews said.
Matthews did not know if the deputy chief position will remain after Callagy leaves.
Horsley and Groom said Callagy may tackle other county challenges in his new position but right now the focus will be criminal justice and changing the pattern of recidivism.
“We certainly get good information from the state and the sheriff but he will also be a really good addition,” Groom said.
Despite his enthusiasm for his new venture, Callagy said he will miss the San Mateo Police Department.
“It’s been a really great time. I really cherish my time here,” he said.
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