There’s a reason Paul Garaven chose July 3 to be his last day at the Tustin PD after more than 30 years at the agency.
His badge number is 704, and he wanted his first day of retirement to be July 4.
It’s a nice connection, and also notable since Garaven, deputy chief of the TPD since 2016, wasn’t even born in the U.S.
Garaven was born and spent his early years in Widnes, a small industrial town outside of Liverpool in North West England. He was 6 when he immigrated to the U.S. with his younger sister and mother, who had sisters in Milwaukee and Garden Grove.
“I’m thankful she picked the sister in Garden Grove,” Garaven says with a laugh.
So, too, is the Tustin PD, who is losing a veteran leader who started at the agency as a 19-year-old reserve in November 1987 and rose to the No. 2 rank.
“Paul is the most naturally gifted leader I’ve ever worked with,” said Capt. Jeff Blair, who started at the TPD about a year before Garaven was hired as a full-time officer in January 1989.
“Paul didn’t need to study leadership or read motivational books on how to lead,” Blair said. “It came naturally to him, even early in his career. He reached that 30,000-foot optic much sooner than the rest of us, and because of that, he made those around him, including myself, better.”
Garaven said he feels a “potpourri of emotions” about retiring.
“It’s exciting, but there’s a little trepidation about change,” he said. “It’s a new chapter.”
NEVER ON RADAR
Law enforcement never was on Garaven’s radar while growing up.
The Rancho Alamitos High School graduate was more into dirt biking, a hobby he started at age 12.
His mother, a manicurist, never suggested law enforcement as a possible career.
After graduating from high school in 1986, Garaven enrolled at Cypress College and took business administration classes, thinking that might be a possible career.
“I wasn’t engaged at all,” says Garaven, who dropped out after one semester.
While working at a grocery store, he learned that the brother of a friend had gone through the police academy. Although his friend’s brother never pursued a career in law enforcement, deciding instead to take over the family business, Garaven was intrigued.
“I thought, ‘That sounds exiting,’” Garaven recalls.
So he visited Golden West College and decided to sponsor himself through its Criminal Justice Training Center.
After graduating from the academy — “It was engaging and exciting,” Garaven says — he got hired at age 19 as a part-time, volunteer reserve at the TPD.
After becoming a full-time TPD officer in January 1989, Garaven started in patrol and then spent three years as a motor officer.
After that, he worked as a narcotics vice detective, sporting a mullet as he helped bust drug dealers who at the time mostly were peddling heroin and cocaine.
“That was the most fun of my career, without a doubt,” Garaven says of his four years as a narcs detective.
Garaven then became a field training officer. After that, he recalls testing for sergeant.
The current TPD chief, Charlie Celano, tested for sergeant at the same time.
“I finished No. 1 on the list,” Garaven says with a laugh. “He (Celano) might be the chief, but I beat him in ranking when we both promoted to sergeant at the same time, in 1999. I remind him about that every chance I get.”
Garaven worked as a patrol sergeant for about three years, and then went back to the Special Investigations unit as a sergeant, supervising it for four years.
Then he went back to patrol for a few years, and after that was promoted to lieutenant, in 2009.
Garaven served as south area commander for three years, and then ran the Professional Standards Unit. He was promoted to captain in 2014 and was promoted to deputy chief in June 2016.
For 14 years, Garaven also worked at Golden West’s Criminal Justice Training Center as a tactical officer.
“It’s been a good run,” he says. “I’ve been able to find purpose in every position I’ve had.”
Don’t expect to see Garaven dirt biking after he retires.
A few injuries later, he now tears up the trails on Polaris Razor. A safer alternative to two wheels.
He has no plans to return to work.
“I’m just going to go and try and enjoy retirement, and will play it by ear,” he says. “I’m going to give myself until January (2019) and then decide what to do.”
Golf likely will be in the picture. He’s been playing for years, and recently started taking lessons.
“I’m still pretty terrible,” Garaven says with a laugh.
He also will be playing more guitar, a hobby he took up a decade ago.
“I’m by no means good at it,” he says, “but I know my way around a few chords.”
Garaven will have more time to visit his mom, who lives in Garden Grove, as well as his sister, a legal secretary, who also lives there.
Garaven and his wife, Mary Ann, have a son, Nick, who’s 25 and out of the house. He works in finance.
They have two trips planned following his retirement party July 15, Garaven’s 50th birthday: an RV up to Oregon and a month-long trip to Europe in the fall (France, Germany, the beaches of Normandy, Paris and Ireland).
Garaven says he’s enjoyed being deputy chief.
“I enjoy representing the department and the people who work here, and I like being able to have an impact on the organization,” he says.
He’ll miss the TPD.
“I’m clearly biased, but I’ve always said this is a great department,” Garaven says. “The people that work here are solid, hardworking and caring. The community is great — we’re lucky to have the level of support that we do. The department is progressive and willing to try different things.
“Some of these guys I’ve known more than half my life. There’s a lifetime of memories and a lifetime of relationships.”
Garaven notes that policing has gotten way more complicated since he began his career.
“But our department has continued to march down the road of being progressive and being professional,” he says. “We’ve always done community-based policing in Tustin, but we’ve really taken it to a whole new level, and that’s really the fabric of the department.”