SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced Monday he is retiring at the end of the year after nearly three decades with the department.
“He’s given his heart and soul to this community, there’s nobody more passionate,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Eddie came in at a time when we had a department that was really suffering.”
Garcia took over as chief of the department back in 2016. According to reports, his retirement was supposed to be announced last month, but was postponed due to fallout from the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The department has faced a number of recent controversies amid the nationwide calls to defund police. San Jose police came under fire for their use of force during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in late May as well as for a private Facebook group that featured racist posts by officers. Four San Jose officers have been placed on leave as the department launched an investigation into the Facebook group.
Garcia also recently was criticized after he tweeted a staged photo of confiscated guns and bullets officers took off the streets that included a rosary and a face mask featuring the symbol of the United Farm Workers Union.
But city leaders echoed Garcia’s accomplishments on Monday, and said that he will be missed, including the San Jose Police Officer’s Association.
“I was actually trying to convince him to delay (his retirement), because I think these times call for strong leadership,” said San Jose councilmember Johnny Khamis.
Khamis said that Garcia had talked to him about his shoulder pain, and that he had surgeries lined up to address the issue.
He said that Garcia would often visit him in his office, as well as the other city councilmembers, to talk about the problems that needed attention and how to make improvements at the police department.
Mayor Liccardo issued the following statement after news of Garcia’s pending retirement went public.
“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,” the statement read. “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.”