San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced Monday he will retire in December, ending a nearly 30-year career at the department.
Garcia said the decision has been in the works for several months and is not related the recent civil unrest or the coronavirus pandemic.
"I came to SJ as a young boy from Puerto Rico, learned how to speak English here and ultimately became chief of the 10th largest city in the country," Garcia said in a statement. "I will forever be grateful to this City and this Department. And privileged to have had a front row seat to watch the amazing work of the men and women of this department. These nearly 30 years have been a fantastic ride.”
Garcia was hired by the department in February 1992. He became the department's acting chief on Jan. 19, 2016 following the retirement of former Chief Larry Esquivel. Garcia was later confirmed as the chief on March 1, 2016.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo issued the following statement:
"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. 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."
Garcia started with the department as a patrol officer and moved on to narcotics enforcement before becoming a homicide investigator and eventually police chief. He became the city's top cop after pension reform sank morale and triggered a mass exodus that saw the department shrink to about 800 active duty officers.
"He has done so much to help rebuild the department that was really in desperate straits when he took over," Liccardo said. "He has helped rebuild the ranks. He has helped rebuild morale. And most importantly, he has helped to build the faith that officers had in themselves and in their own mission."