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Dallas’ new police chief will be Eddie Garcia, the first Latino to lead the department

Cassandra Jaramillo, The Dallas Morning News   12/24/2020

This article was originally posted here

DALLAS — Edgardo “Eddie” Garcia will become Dallas’ next police chief, making him the first Latino to lead the department.

Edgardo “Eddie” Garcia, who was the San Jose police chief for four years before retiring recently, will become Dallas’ next police chief on Feb. 3.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced the city’s 30th police chief Wednesday after a three-month search to find a replacement for Police Chief U. Reneé Hall, who announced in September that she would leave at the end of the year.

Garcia, who was the San Jose police chief for four years before retiring recently, will start in his new role in Dallas on Feb. 3.

“We should celebrate the fact that Chief Garcia will become our first Hispanic police chief,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement after the announcement. “This truly is an historic moment for Dallas.

“But we both understand that what truly matters now is the work ahead of us: making our communities safer and stronger. I expect that he will immediately begin developing plans to fight the unacceptable violent crime increases we have seen in Dallas.”

Garcia, 50, spent nearly three decades of his law enforcement career with the San Jose Police Department in California. He rose up the ranks as a narcotics officer, sergeant over SWAT, lieutenant over patrol watch, and captain over the San Jose’s bureau of special investigations, according to his application.

Garcia was one of seven finalists for the job, which also included three internal candidates, a former Dallas Police Department officer, the Irving police chief and one from the East Coast.

Interviews with the seven took place last week, first with a group of community panelists, then in a live virtual forum moderated by the search firm hired to help in the selection process, and finally, in private interviews with Broadnax. Residents were also surveyed about what they wanted to see in the next chief.

Garcia, one of two out of state candidates in the Dallas police chief search, will face the massive task of lowering rising homicides and aggravated assaults in the city and improving trust among Black and Latino residents in Dallas.

Garcia will be taking over the ninth-largest police department in the U.S., with a force of about 3,100 officers.

Garcia takes the helm of the department after Hall announced in September that she would resign amid criticism from public officials over her leadership of the department. Hall, who started in September 2017, was the first woman appointed as the city’s top police official.

Unlike in San Jose, Garcia will have to manage expectations and demands of three different police unions in Dallas that still remain separated by race and ethnicity. In San Jose, he commanded a force of about 1,400 or slightly less than half the size of Dallas’ Police Department.

Dallas police as of Dec. 21 have reported 238 homicides so far this year, up from 195 in the same period a year earlier, according to police statistics.

When about 4,500 residents were surveyed about what they wanted in the next police chief, the top priorities were someone who would work to reduce crime, practiced transparency, held officers accountable and had a record of building community trust.

Garcia said that to combat crime, police have to work on being data driven. A small percentage of locations are often responsible for a majority of calls for service, he said. “The goals are for less victims, the goals are for less perpetrators,” he said. “The goals are for an increased sense of public safety in a community because perception is our reality and policy.”

He has been a big advocate for community policing. Garcia created a youth advisory board that communicated with the Police Department. He had police recruits learn basic Spanish during the academy.

During the public interview process, Garcia shared his story of being born in Puerto Rico and learning English in San Jose, California. He also said he was a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys and had a desire to be in the city, regardless of the final pick, after he announced his retirement from San Jose.

“I’m probably the biggest Cowboys fan in the Bay Area,” he said in the televised interview. “I’ve been to the city dozens of times, I love the city, reminds me of San Jose, one way or the other, my plan in retirement was gonna end up in the state of Texas in this area, so this is not a whim. I feel connected to this city and as an outsider coming in, I know I will love the city of Dallas.”

The other candidates for the job were: Dallas Police Maj. Malik Aziz; Assistant Police Chief Avery Moore; Deputy Chief Reuben Ramirez; Albert Martinez, director of security at the Dallas Catholic Diocese; Irving Police Chief Jeff Spivey; and Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Chief RaShall Brackney.

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(Staff writers Everton Bailey and Charlie Scudder contributed to this report.)

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