While he was a student at Chula Vista High School from 1977 to 1980, Gary Ficacci was a two-sport student athlete who participated in the Spartans’ football and track & field programs. A leader, he was co-captain of the 1979 football team and was selected to the All-Metro League football team. During the 1980 track & field season as a senior, he set the school record in the discus throw and he was a finalist in the CIF Track & Field discus competition.
Gary attended Southwestern College from 1980 to 1982 and played fullback and wingback on the football team for Coach Bob Mears. He was selected once again as co-captain for the Apaches 1981 team, and his outstanding play earned him berths on the 1981 All-Mission Conference Team and the All-State Team.
He attended Long Beach State University from 1982 to 1983 where he was starting offensive guard in 1983 and again served as co-captain for the game against San Diego State University. Gary earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from San Diego State University in 1986.
Gary began his professional career in 1987 when he joined the San Diego Sheriff’s Department after graduating from the 79th Sheriff’s Academy at Southwestern. He was assigned to the South Bay Detention Facility in Chula Vista where he worked for two year. He then joined the Chula Vista Police Department in 1989, working first in the Patrol Division and then being assigned to the Narcotics Division in 1993.
Gary worked major narcotic smuggling cases with the United States Customs Marine/Air Task Force. He was a robbery/homicide detective and later was the sergeant in charge of the robbery/homicide division. He was a SWAT team member from 1993 until 2001, and was commander of the SWAT Team from 2004 to 2009.
Gary managed all Investigations Units as a lieutenant and in 2010 was promoted to Captain, attending the 247th Session of FBI National Academy in 2011. He retired in 2014 as second in charge of the Chula Vista Police Department. He was hired as Director of Security for Sharp Health Care and currently is the person in charge of all security for seven acute care hospitals and more than 25 medical offices and five urgent care clinics.
Gary has many fond memories of Southwestern College. Being on campus from 1980 to 1982 as a first-time college student, he formed many life-long friendships with athletes who used to be a high school rivals. Returning to campus as a member of the Police Academy a few years later was like “coming home.” Patrolling the campus as a police officer and collaborating with the current SWC Police Department from 1989 to 2014 to keep the campus safe is another memory that gives him a true sense of accomplishment. He has also guest lectured in amny Administration of Justice classes and he has participated in the current SWC Police Academy Advisory Committees (2009 to 2015).
In the area of community service, Gary has volunteered with the Chula Vista Police Activities League since 2005 and he is currently a board member. CVPAL assists at-risk youth and gives a scholarship every year for a student to attend Southwestern College.
Every member of Gary’s family is a graduate of Southwestern College. His wife of 29 years, Jennifer, currently works for the San Diego Housing Commission. Their son, Garrett of Chula Vista and daughter, Cassandra, or Brooklyn, NY, exemplify the family motto of “Jaguars for Life.” In his leisure time, he has participated in the Police Olympic sports of basketball, in-line hockey, and mountain biking.
The Southwestern College Athletic Hall of Fame is extremely fortunate to induct a highly qualified individual into its Class of 2016. Welcome, Gary Ficacci, and thank you for you athletic achievements on behalf of SWC’s football program and for all you have done for our city during you more than 27 years of law enforcement service!