For the first time since starting his new job, we're hearing from Dallas' new police chief about his plans to reduce violent crime and rebuild trust, and about his transition to the city.
Eddie Garcia is the first Latino to lead the Dallas Police Department.
He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and moved to San Jose, California at age five, unable to speak English.
He spent 28 years with the San Jose Police Department, ascending the ranks from rookie to detective, to chief.
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As chief for nearly five years, Garcia faced some of the same challenges Dallas does: Combatting violent crime, retaining officers, and rebuilding community trust.
He retired from the SJPD in December and was named the top cop in Dallas days later.
Garcia’s first day on the job was February 3, but he’d already been working for weeks, passing a series of tests and logging more than 100 hours of classes to become a police officer in Texas.
“Starting day one and not being in uniform was absolutely never an option,” Garcia said.
We spoke with Garcia inside Dallas Police Headquarters, a place he doesn't plan to spend much time.
Over the next few months, he said he'll work in a satellite role from police stations all over the city.
“We can have the best plans in the world and they will not mean anything if we do not do the best we can to win the hearts and minds of the men and women that do the work,” he said.
Garcia said officers, command staff and community leaders, he said, is his first order of business, part of his personal approach to learning his new city.
He said he’ll take a three-prong approach to fighting violent crime: Focused policing in hotspot crime areas, interrupting criminal enterprises where they meet, and creating long-term solutions to deter 'high-risk individuals' from breaking the law.
He said he plans to form different committees of community members and inner-faith collaborative groups.
“Everything that we're doing from a community perspective and standpoint, and getting better as an organization, more professional, what I say is all the time is please, for the message is, do not mistake our kindness for weakness because we are going to take the criminal element off our streets and we will treat our community fairly,” Garcia said.
Garcia, a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan, said he always envisioned living in Dallas whether that was working or retiring here.
Thursday, he said he was pleased to receive a welcome letter from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.