San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia explains decision to retire in December

San Jose's police chief is sharing more about his decision to retire and has advice for whoever leads the department.

"It's not an easy decision. It's been a life of service thus far and I'm going to miss it," said Chief Eddie Garcia.

After 28 years with San Jose Police and four years as head of the department, Chief Garcia Monday announced he is retiring from his post in December.

"You want to leave when you're still effective. I believe I'm still effective and I would be effective but it's one of those things where you look at and I was not going to be chief forever," said Garcia.

Garcia, who turns 50 in December, says his decision was made at the beginning of 2020 and he had originally planned to announce his retirement June 26.

He says recent violent protests, criticism of the police department and calls for change had nothing to do with his decision to leave.

"Absolutely nothing to do with my decision. Actually it made me hold off my announcement longer. I was going to announce last month and I made the decision not to because of what was occurring but knowing in the end I would be leaving at the end of the year. The time was right now," said Garcia.

The native of Puerto Rico moved to San Jose when he was young and joined the San Jose Police Department in 1992.

Garcia worked in various departments including patrol, special operations and as a homicide investigator among other positions.

He was sworn in as chief on March 1, 2016, after former chief Larry Esquivel left to lead the Tracy Police Department.

Garcia says the low points of his time as chief include mistakes made responding to recent George Floyd protests and the 2016 Donald Trump rally.

But he adds there were more highs than lows and he's proud of diversifying the staff, supporting the LGBTQ community and boosting staffing and morale.

When asked what advice he has for his successor, Garcia said two things will be important for the next chief moving forward.

"They need to answer to their community, listen to their neighborhoods, listen to what they want in policing. And also ensure they're treating their rank and file fairly," said Garcia.

"Chief Garcia's shoes are going to be tough to fill. Under his leadership, SJPD boosted recruitment and instituted new practices to bolster the professionalism of the force and the community's trust," San Jose City Manager Dave Sykes said in a released statement.

Chief Garcia's last day will be December 12.

Sykes says the City of San Jose in the process of launching a nationwide search for Chief Garcia's replacement and that an interim police chief will be announced at a later time.