North Texas lawmakers and community leaders are welcoming the former California police chief named Wednesday to be the next leader of the Dallas Police Department.
Eddie Garcia, who retired as police chief in San Jose this year, will replace outgoing police Chief Reneé Hall, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax announced Wednesday. Garcia’s first day on the job is set for Feb. 3.
“I’m pleased to see this inclusive, equitable and transparent process culminate successfully with the hire of Chief Garcia,” Broadnax said. “Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, it’s an exciting time for him to come to Dallas and continue building on the foundation of R.E.A.L. Change we’ve built – advancing 21st Century policing in ways that are responsible, equitable, actionable, and legitimate.”
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Garcia spent nearly three decades rising through the ranks of the San Jose Police Department before eventually taking over the top job there. He will succeed Hall, who was the first woman to serve a Dallas chief after she announced she’d be leaving at the end of the year following criticism from city officials over her leadership amid protests and unrest that swept the country over the summer.
Mayor Eric Johnson welcomed Garcia in a statement and called his hiring a “historic moment for Dallas.” Johnson said he looks forward to seeing the new chief’s strategies to make the city safer.
Chief Hall also wished Garcia well on Twitter late Wednesday night.
Garcia beat out several other candidates, including current Dallas commanders, and will take over the department as it struggles with a rise in violent crime and a dearth of trust among some Black and Latino residents.
Across the spectrum, grassroots organizers, unions and community leaders weighed in on the selection.
Tramonica Brown is the founder of Not My Son, an organization that addresses racial injustice. She said she wants open communication, and that it’s all about seeing action before believing what she's been told.
“I want somebody that’s not afraid to have a dialogue with the community. We’ve lost trust,” Brown said. “My hope is that this chief is going to come in and really do some things that I know he probably said in those interviews.”
Brown said she's not quite ready to throw her full support behind the new chief. She wants to see whether he'll make an effort to build relationships with people throughout the city.
"I just want to see. I’m not excited about anybody taking the role. I’m not excited to see anybody talk about what they want to do," said Brown. "We are stepping into the new year. And if we have a new police chief, great. But if he does not possess the best tools to make Dallas the way that it’s supposed to be then he doesn’t need to be here either."
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said he looked forward to working with Garcia, although his organization had hoped an internal candidate would be named chief. Still, he applauded Garcia’s extensive experience.
“He has faced a lot of the problems that we’ve faced here in Dallas. Protest issues in San Jose, the same thing we had here. He had a pension fight he had to go through with his officers in San Jose,” Mata said. “A morale issue, a hiring issue, an attrition issue, a pay issue. Those are the same things we fought here.”
However, Mata said one of Garcia’s biggest challenges would be rebuilding trust from the inside out. He said that would start with his command staff.
Garcia brings decades of experience to Dallas and the Texas city has a population similar to San Jose’s in size and demographics. But Mata said the new chief would also have his work cut out for him in bringing down Dallas’ murder rate and would do well to surround himself with commanders who know the city and its politics.
“As long as he surrounds himself with a good command staff and allows that command staff to give him feedback, to give him positive and negative feedback on how to better the department, and he’s accepting to that, I think he can quickly figure out what’s wrong here,” Mata said.
Jesuorobo Enobakhare is chairman of the Dallas Police Oversight Board. He’s worked closely with outgoing Chief Hall and said she set into motion needed change, such as the "Duty to Intervene" policy, in which an officer must stop or attempt to stop inappropriate or excessive force.
He said he hoped the new chief continued down that path, starting with the police oversight monitor Tonya McClary.
“I want to see Director McClary have a little more insight into not only the operations department of the Dallas Police Department, which she does, but also in regard to discussing disciplinary action for officers who are not following policy,” Enobakhare said.
He cautioned against having hopes that are too high for the incoming chief.
“We can’t just think that a new police chief is going to come in and magically wave a wand and fix things that are wrong in the city,” he said. “It’s going to take leadership from the city council. It’s going to take the leadership of a lot of other entities in order to work together to solve some of these problems."
LULAC 100 President Rene Martinez said in his decades of activism he never thought he’d see a Latino chief.
“He’s going to have to reach out to those parts of the community and gain their trust,” Martinez said. “Obviously, language is part of culture, so he’s going to have that advantage to be able to speak the language.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted that he looked forward to working with Garcia and wished him "peaceful holidays."
Mayor Johnson's full statement is below.
“I spoke this afternoon with our new police chief, Eddie Garcia, and congratulated him on his selection by the city manager. I hope the people of Dallas will join me in giving him and his family a warm welcome. He will join us after spending four years as the police chief in the 10th-largest city in the country, and he was highly regarded by my counterpart in San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo.
“We should celebrate the fact that Chief Garcia will become our first Hispanic police chief. 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. We will need our communities’ help in those efforts. Too many lives have been taken in our city. Too many families have been devastated by violence. And too many people in our neighborhoods feel unsafe.
“Law enforcement alone cannot solve the challenges we face, but the hardworking men and women of the Dallas Police Department are integral to combating violence, which disproportionately affects people of color in our city. As policymakers, we must give Chief Garcia the tools that his officers need to keep people safe and continue to push for solutions — such as the programs recommended by the Mayor’s Task Force on Safe Communities — that can prevent crime without placing additional burdens on the police department. The people of Dallas deserve a city government that puts public safety first.
“I want to thank all the candidates who embraced the challenge of working for the City of Dallas. I look forward to seeing Chief Garcia’s new strategies in action in the months ahead. Working together, we will strive to make Dallas the safest major city in the United States.”