Alumnus Becomes Top Cop in Phoenix

SHSU Alumnus Daniel V. Garcia will take over as Chief of the Phoenix Police Department in May.
SHSU Alumnus Daniel V. Garcia will take over as Chief of the Phoenix Police Department in May.

A graduate of Sam Houston State University recently was named Police Chief for the sixth largest city in the United States.

Daniel V. Garcia (BS ‘78), Assistant Chief of the Support Bureau for the Dallas Police Department, will take over the Phoenix Police Department in May, leading more than 3,000 officers and 700 support staff. Garcia is a career officer with the Dallas Police Department, serving 34 years in nearly every area of operations, including patrol, airport police, detective, firearms instructor, homeland security, traffic, internal affairs and personnel, detention services, and the legal unit.

“Daniel V. Garcia will bring new, strong and sound leadership to our police department, which is already one of the best in the country,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “I have made it clear to him that community policing is essential to increasing trust of police in our communities and neighborhoods, no matter what part of town you live in. I hold Phoenix police to the highest standard, and I expect him to lead our police force toward a strong public safety future.”

Garcia spent 34 years in the Dallas Police Department, rising to the rank of Assistant Chief of the Support Bureau
Garcia spent 34 years in the Dallas Police Department, rising to the rank of Assistant Chief of the Support Bureau.
Garcia is no stranger to the community policing concept. In 1994 as Deputy Chief, Garcia started a community policing program in Dallas called Neighborhood Police Officers, which recognizes the importance of involving the community to help combat crime and increase the quality of police service. The units, located in patrol substations, manage various programs, including crime watch groups, volunteer patrols, crime prevention presentations, parking issues committees and citizen police support.

“Our best resource for any situation is the community,” said Garcia. “The police department interacts with the community from the officer on the street all the way up to the Chief of Police. It is the most important part of law enforcement.”

Garcia said he wants to reinforce the basic foundations of law enforcement in Phoenix: to nurture and protect democracy; to ensure justice for all; to have a spirit of service; to have fundamental fairness for everyone and to protect others from harm.

“To reinforce the basics is a good thing,” said Chief Garcia. “When you leave the house in the morning and your loved ones say ‘Be careful out there,’ that’s what it’s all about.”

Even though Phoenix has the 7th lowest crime rate in the nation, Garcia said there is always room for improvement. He also will face hotly debated immigration issues in Phoenix.

Garcia said he plans to address immigrants like any other law enforcement encounter. Ethically, he believes in treating all individuals with dignity and respect. Legally, if there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, he will deliver the suspect to jail. The jail has an obligation to determine the immigration status of an individual and if he or she is found to be illegal, it will be dealt with by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Treat all individuals with dignity and respect,” Garcia said. “That is the ethical foundation of all law enforcement encounters. If there is reasonable believe that there was a crime committed, there is a decision to arrest or release an individual. If they go to jail, there is an obligation to check their status.”

Garcia believes the diversity of his experience at the Dallas Police Department will help him in his new role, especially leadership skills, his time in patrol and critical incident management. He is excited about some of the new initiatives in Phoenix, which include an online reporting system for minor theft, vehicle burglary, lost property and other crimes and a grant-funded program to test on-officer camera systems.

In his first year, Garcia was awarded Rookie of the Year in Dallas.
In his first year, Garcia was awarded Rookie of the Year in Dallas.
During his career at the Dallas Police Department, Garcia rose steadily through the ranks, earning accolades along the way. In his first year on the job, he was nominated as Rookie of the Year for his work in the some of the busiest areas of Northwest Dallas. He also earned Certificates of Merit from his department in 1979 and 1982 as well as a Certificate of Appreciation from the LULAC County 100 in 1999.

Garcia is also an excellent marksman, winning 11 Dallas Police Shooting Awards and the Texas State Rifle Association Marksman Championship in 1986. He also placed in the National Police Pistol Championship in 1986 and 1987.

In addition to his education at Sam Houston State University, Garcia graduated from the FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Research Forum.

Garcia credits Sam Houston State University with giving him “a strong vision and a strong understanding of the challenges facing law enforcement.” He said his education provided a “snapshot” view of all aspects of law enforcement, including such topics as organized crime, crime strategies, crimes of passion and crime in the community.

“I strongly believe that SHSU is the #1 school for law enforcement in the nation,” said Garcia. “They gave me a view of all topics and a strong preparation to work for the Dallas Police Department.”

Garcia said that it is important for criminal justice graduates to keep on learning throughout their careers through on-the-job training, outside training opportunities and reading.

“Just read about the profession because it is always changing,” said Garcia.

Member of The Texas State University System