SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia to Retire

Chief Eddie Garcia announced today that he plans to retire in December after 28 years with the San Jose Police Department.

A Puerto Rico native, Garcia got his start with SJPD in 1992, working on the agency’s Narcotics Enforcement Team. Over the years, he rose through the ranks until he was promoted to assistant chief of police in 2013. When former Chief Larry Esquivel retired in 2016, Garcia was appointed as the department’s top cop.

According to the Mercury News, which on Monday broke the story of Garcia’s retirement, the chief has been planning to call it quits for some time now. But he reportedly held off on making an announcement due to the George Floyd protests that kicked off in late May and lasted for much of the following month.

“History will remember Chief Eddie Garcia in the same way I’ve seen him embraced at countless community meetings: as a dynamic, exuberant leader who gave his heart and soul to his hometown,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “He brought this police department back from the brink, rebuilding our officers’ ranks, their morale, and most importantly, their faith in themselves and their mission. I wish him all the best as he moves into this next chapter of his life.”

San Jose Councilman Sergio Jimenez told San Jose Inside that Garcia was “an accessible chief unlike we’ve ever had before.”

“I think he should be proud of the fact that he’s dedicated more than half of his life to the department,” the D2 rep said. “I very much appreciate his style, especially as it relates to communicating with the community.”

Although SJPD has come under fire in recent months for use of force against protestors and racist posts on Facebook by San Jose cops, Jimenez said that shouldn’t taint Garcia’s legacy. When Garcia inherited the department in 2016, San Jose was still recovering from pension battles, which significantly dwindled the number of officers on the force.

Under Garcia’s leadership, the department instituted body-worn cameras, created the community service officer program and published use-of-force data online.

Aaron Zisser—who resigned as the city’s Independent Police Auditor in 2018 amid pressure from the POA—acknowledged that Garcia “was very willing to engage on [his] concerns on various internal affairs investigations.”

But while the chief was receptive to some policy changes, Zisser said he takes issue with Garcia’s recent remarks that SJPD doesn’t have a culture problem.

“It’s just too many things lately to write it off as a few bad actors,” Zisser said.

The former police watchdog said that he hopes San Jose picks its next chief from outside the department. Every officer besides the chief and assistant chief is a member of the police union, he noted, which politicizes the entire agency and makes it resistant to accountability reforms. Zisser said he fears that hiring someone internally will result in a chief too closely affiliated to the union and too opposed to any substantive change.

“What is the city leadership thinking about going forward as they think about who the next chief will be?” he asked. “Will it be someone who is coming in with fresh eyes and thinking about changing how things operate? Or is going to be someone overly familiar with the environment here?”

Shivaun Nurre, the current Independent Police Auditor, said that Garcia “has been an advocate for creating change in the department by implementing data-driven tools as well as progressive training and partnership initiatives such as the SJSU social history class for recruits and the Santa Clara County mobile crisis team.”

“He understands the value of oversight and the important work of the IPA,” she added. “Although we may not have always agreed, I can say with confidence he was willing to listen and worked toward improving the San Jose community. I wish him well.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

6 Comments

  1. Dear Chief Garcia,

    I guess it is only right to acknowledge the graciousness of admitting you are not up to the job. While you should have done this June 2016, when you gloated over the beat down of American Citizens attending a political rally. it is best for the city you leave. If a couple of kids can take you down and make the entire SJPD look as bad as you have made them look, you probably should never have been given the job. I am sorry that you will have to live with your legacy, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

    All the best,

  2. > But while Zisser said the chief was receptive to some policy changes, he disagrees with Garcia’s recent remarks that SJPD doesn’t have a culture problem.

    Probably not smart to point fingers, Aaron.

    I suspect that people will find “culture problems” when they look into your little patch of Oligarchistan.

  3. Garcia has been one of the best Chiefs we’ve had, at least in modern history. Sorry to see him go and scared to see who comes next.

  4. — “Although SJPD has come under fire in recent months for use of force against protestors and racist posts on Facebook by San Jose cops,…“

    Maybe someone can remember a time when the SJPD was not “under fire” but I can’t. In fact, so incessant and seemingly essential has its immolation become that the department now functions more like a public utility — providing an infrastructure for absorbing the flames of discontent — than it does a traditional police agency.

    To illustrate my point, consider what would happen should the SJPD close its doors. Without cops on the beat, criminals would operate with near impunity, reckless drivers would go unrestrained, lunatics would wander about where children play, and law-abiding citizens would increasingly turn to gun ownership. This, many would argue, is not much different than the present situation. But deprive the discontented a roster of assailable blue meanies (all imagined to be racist white males) and you deprive the media its well of hyperbole, communities of color a scapegoat for their own failures, social justice warrior a target for their unjust hatred, the woke an escape from self-examination, progressive thinkers the storm troopers their absurd politics require. This, some might argue, could cause the discontented to spiral into a depression of inescapable depth.

    The combination of human nature, freedom, and the demands of self-reliance will always produce discontent, and in times like these, with its production greatly aided by irresponsible parenting, a subverted educational system, and morally corrupt politicians, the flames of discontent have never burned hotter. SJPD’s next chief will not be picked for his/her commitment to public safety, no, the pick will be based on an ability to absorb insult with a smile, a willingness to soothe angry natives with coveted baubles and sacrificial roasts of subordinates, and an eagerness to endorse political nonsense on demand (kneeling optional). In other words, his/her background best stink of ambition but be free of self-respect and moral fiber.

  5. > In other words, his/her background best stink of ambition but be free of self-respect and moral fiber.

    Well, that might be what to expect from “business as usual” San Jose politics.

    Now is probably the time to start asking those charged with selecting Chief Garcia’s replacement what racial, ethnic, gender, disability, religious, and mental balance requirements they intend to impose on the selection of the new Chief.

    We can probably mark all the non-diverse white heterosexual Christian males off the candidate list for starters.

    The selection screening process is already well under way.

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