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New Caldwell chief lands dream job

New Caldwell chief lands dream job

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Two weeks into his new job, Caldwell police chief Paul Lilly said he doesn't plan to make any changes to the department.

"I inherited an excellent Police Department from Chief Virgil Hurt," he said. "Everything seems to be running at near-peak efficiency and I'm blessed with a safe community. I'll do everything I can to keep it that way."

Lilly, 37, has 17 years of law enforcement experience and has served with more than 15 departments in various positions, including grant writing and consulting.

Being the Caldwell chief, however, is the pinnacle of his career, he said.

"I'm almost speechless to have been selected. The competition was very steep," Lilly said, adding that more than 40 people applied for the position vacated by Hurt last month.

"At this point in my career, I was looking for a place where [my family and I] could settle down. When the Caldwell position opened up, we said our prayers."

The Fort Worth native -Êwho earned his master's degree at Southwest Texas State University in 2002 - has taught freshmen and sophomore criminal justice classes part-time at Hill College in Hillsboro for 15 years. He said he'll continue teaching, at least for the next five years, if his schedule allows.

From 1998 to 2000, Lilly served as the Luling police chief. He later taught democratic policing in Bosnia as a representative with the U.S. Department of Justice in the summer of 2004.

After returning to the states, he became chief of the JPS Health Network police force in the Tarrant County Hospital District - a position he held until he said he was fired in November 2006.

According to published reports, JPS officials said Lilly's termination was based on a high turnover rate and poor employee morale. Lilly said he was terminated because he refused to "fix" traffic tickets, parking citations and ongoing investigations. He later received $135,000 to settle a wrongful termination lawsuit against JPS, reports state.

"It was a really tough time, but those are the defining moments in a person's life," Lilly said. "All I had to do was look the other way and everything would have been a lot easier, but I couldn't do it. I made the decision that I wasn't going to compromise my ethics. I'm not ashamed of that."

Lilly's wife of 12 years, Jessica, teaches third-graders in Mart where she lives with their 11-year-old son, Taylor. Lilly's family will join him in Caldwell in May.

"We knew this city was perfect for us," he said. "I'm just thrilled to be here, and hopefully this is the cap of my career."

• Kristy Gillentine's e-mail address is kristy.gillentine@theeagle.com.

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