Milpitas Police Chief Retires

Graham retires after 30 years on the force.

Milpitas native and Police Chief Dennis Graham, 52, will be retiring this summer after six years as Chief and 30 years on the force.

Graham had been planning on retiring in January, however, he was committed to getting through the budget process for the 2012-2013 fiscal year because he didn't want to pass on the issue to the new chief.

"I knew it was going to be a difficult year and I didn't want to leave it for the new chief," Graham said.

Graham who grew up in Milpitas and went to Zanker Elementary School, Thomas Russell Middle School and Milpitas High School graduating class of 1978, said one of his biggest accomplishments as Chief was the development of a gang mitigation initiative at Milpitas High which resulted in a 50 percent decrease in violence on campus.

"It made our campus safer and it made me happy because it was my alma mater," Graham said. "I want it to be safe for kids the way it was for me when I was there so they can focus on their education."

"In the late 1970s when I was an 8-year-old kid, I watched a show called 'Adam-12' about two officers out on patrol," Graham said. "The characters on the show did a variety of things, going around helping people with problems big and small, and it looked like an interesting thing to do. I thought they looked pretty sharp in their uniforms too."

As he grew older, Dennis Graham said he never let go of the idea of becoming a police officer, although he did want to be a professional basketball player.

Instead he went to San Jose State University to receive an administrative justice degree in 1984, although he started working for the Milpitas Police in 1982, and then returned to San Jose State to receive a masters in justice studies in 2004. 

Graham was hired by then chief James Murray, who he had read about in the Milpitas Post when he was growing up and worked as a delivery boy for the Post.

Since then he has been committed to a succession plan that would continue to flourish and serve the community once he left, Graham said. He has three commanders who he says are highly capable of taking over as chief of police. 

The thing he will miss the most? Interacting with everyone, from all levels of the police department, sworn and non-sworn employees, Graham said.

Now however, he plans on vacationing with his family once he leaves on Aug. 23 both internationally and locally. Both his kids are in high school, so he also plans on spending time with them and teaching his oldest son to drive.

Graham announced his retirement in May, along with longtime Milpitas public works director/city engineer Greg Armendariz  who abruptly retired due to an undisclosed medical condition.

The city's former planning director resigned in October and the city's interim planning director/economic development manager remains out on an unspecified medical leave, and the parks and recreation leader was let go in January. The IT director is also supposed to retire soon, according to the Milpitas Post.

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