SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia is calling it quits.
The chief has announced his retirement after almost 30 years on the force in San Jose.
Chief Garcia’s decision to retire caught a lot of people by surprise.
KRON4 talked with him about his decision and legacy and what’s in store for his successor.
“My plans were made months ago,” Garcia said.
Chief Garcia says he decided to retire back in June but held off announcing it until now.
“It was such a critical time, we were in the midst of crisis, the protests were occurring, we were in the middle of a shelter in place. I didn’t feel it was right,” Garcia said.
Garcia has been the Chief of Police since 2016. He plans to retire in December, when he turns 50.
He will have served his entire career, nearly three decades, in San Jose.
“It’s a personal decision for everybody and for me I feel the time is right, I wasn’t going to be the police chief forever,” Garcia said.
During his tenure, the department instituted body-worn cameras, a public use-of-force dashboard and other progressive measures.
Garcia presided over a rebound from low morale and chronic understaffing amid budget cuts and pension reform.
“We were struggling, close to 900 officers when I took over and it was something we had to do to keep a city of a million people safe,” Garcia said.
Garcia’s departure comes amid criticism his officers over-reacted to recent racial justice protests, allegations of police misconduct and calls for more independent oversight of the department.
“I understand that people will try to connect the dots, that things are moving and times are changing but that’s not it, the decision was made and there is never a right time to do it,” Garcia said.
Mayor Sam Liccardo and others praised Chief Garcia as a dynamic, exuberant leader.
To his critics, who want systemic change, the chief does not deny problems and problem officers exist but is quick to defend the majority of officers under his command.
“Our most valuable resource here are men and women who do this job, and so the police chief who comes in here definitely needs to balance both – That our communities important and the importance of the men and women who actually put their lives on the line every single day for this job,” Garcia said.
No names were mentioned but Garcia says the best person to succeed him and deal with what lay ahead should be someone from within the department.
As for his future plans, the self described kid who did not speak english when he arrived in San Jose from Puerto Rico and rose to become chief of police, is keeping his options open.
“I don’t know, you know, I’ll take these next four and a half months now to reflect on what I want to do next and what opportunities arise from that. Whether it be in law enforcement, private sector, public sector still, I don’t know,” Garcia said.
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