Larry Esquivel inherited San Jose’s chief of police position without ever putting his name up for consideration. In fact, none of the San Jose Police Department’s deputy chiefs showed a genuine interest in the job, leaving the applicant pool to some uninterested and/or unqualified candidates outside of the area.
The search for someone to replace recently retired chief Chris Moore, who hung it up in January, imploded earlier this year after the names of potential candidates were leaked to the press. In response, City Manager Debra Figone called off the search, or “suspended” it, according to communication’s director David Vossbrink, in an effort to have a cooling off period before starting anew some time down the line. No one within the city can say for certain when that will happen.
There is a belief that the process showed just how hamstrung the city has become in luring top-level talent to San Jose in the wake of salary and benefit cuts, as well as more pension reform looming if Measure B comes out of the courts more or less unscathed.
In the meantime, Esquivel appears to be quietly going about his business, learning about all of SJPD’s day-to-day operations as well as engaging in the political gamesmanship that comes with the job. He has received praise from the Police Officers Association—not necessarily a given from the temperamental union—and the department’s morale received a slight boost just a couple weeks ago when the first new recruits in four years were sworn in as officers. This came just a week after the somber memorial service in San Jose for two slain Santa Cruz police officers.
San Jose Inside conducted an interview with Esquivel shortly after he became chief, and we’d publish the transcript if it weren’t so, well, boring.
Esquivel, who previously headed up the Bureau of Operations after serving as the Internal Affairs commander, admitted in the interview that he was still trying to keep pace with the learning curve, and his answers were mostly positive if not carbon-copied from a SJPD brochure.
Esquivel talked about instituting a model for department goals under Moore’s watch that goes by the acronym RCITI, or phonetically pronounced “Our City.” The goal was to focus efforts on:
• Crime reduction
• Investing in staff
Again, brochure stuff.
Thankfully, technology has opened up a small window into the soul of San Jose’s new police chief. Unlike his predecessor, or the city manager or Mayor Chuck Reed, Esquivel has a Twitter account. And it’s compelling for a number of reasons.
First, did you know San Jose’s new police chief is fond of emoticons—even when they’re a little weird?
Here’s a tweet he sent out about meeting with the family of a homicide victim.
But Esquivel can turn that frown upside down when he’s snapping photos at the “Azteca Mexica New Year Festival.”
And then there’s police chief trivia, such as this photo he took along with a question asking if followers can name that ride. (It’s a 1964 Plymouth Savoy, idiot.)
Esquivel’s Tweets aren’t consumed just by ups and downs and fun and games, though. He’s also using social media to put a little pressure on councilmembers, such as Xavier Campos and Johnny Khamis, to follow through on promises.
And yet, Esquivel is still new at his job. Has there ever been a time in recorded history when a San Jose police chief offers the Mercury News praise?
Like we said, still new to the job.