San Jose police chief to turn in badge after 30 years of service

After 30 years of protecting his hometown, San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel is set to turn in his badge on Friday. He’s heading to Tracy where he’s taking the job to become their next police chief.

The San Jose badge is the only one Esquivel has ever worn and he served his city in one of the department’s more challenging times.

He believes better days are ahead.

In a nearly empty office and with a countdown on his phone, Chief Esquivel is spending his last days as chief thanking his staff and community. He says he’ll miss the people most after 30 years.

"It’s difficult. It’s a good feeling; a feeling of excitement but sadness as well,” he says.

The 54-year-old spent nearly three years as the top cop of the country’s 10th largest city.

His tenure has not been easy with low morale and a police force that went from 1,200 officers on the streets to just under 900.

"It was very difficult for us. We had in terms of staffing levels, and the retention issues, lack of stability. It was difficult for us addressing out staffing needs and providing core services for our citizens.”

His most difficult day was when Michael Johnson died back in March. He showed the police range now dedicated in Johnson’s honor, yet Esquivel calls his greatest achievement helping the department get through these tough times.

He’s leaving with no regrets as the city and the Police Officer’s Association have now come to an agreement.

"We need to maintain our staffing levels and grow. We need to stabilize this police department. We need to concentrate and keep working together with our POA and our city leaders to implement the Measure B settlement that was agreed upon,” said new interim Police Chief Eddie Garcia. He was previously the assistant chief of police.

Besides increasing staffing, he’s looking to boost morale and trust. Chief Esquivel has left him a board with projects, notably the body-worn camera program.

As for advice, Esquivel says Garcia should continue the partnerships the police have made with the community members and the rank and file with transparency.

Both know it will take a few years to rebuild the department, but both are optimistic San Jose will eventually regain its title as the “safest largest city”.