Get to Know Police Chief Daniel Garcia

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Daniel Garcia, the new Phoenix Police Chief, talks about his plans for the department and also what he thinks about law enforcement’s role when it comes to immigration and SB 1070.

Richard Ruelas: In May, Daniel Garcia was sworn in as the new Phoenix police chief. He heads a department with more than 3,000 sworn officers who serve a city of 1.5 million people. Chief Garcia is a strong proponent of community-oriented policing, encouraging people to take a more active role in the public safety of their neighborhoods. With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on S.B. 1070, he will be reaching out to a community divided over the issue of immigration enforcement. Joining me tonight is Daniel Garcia, the new Phoenix police chief. Chief, thanks for joining us. What did you hear the residents say? What concerns?

Daniel Garcia: There's a lot of confusion about the law and there's also a lot of anger and a lot of fear. There's some fear in the community as to how we're going to start policing.

Richard Ruelas: What can you say to calm those fears?

Daniel Garcia: You know, from the initial inception of my job here with the Phoenix police department, one thing that I've told the Phoenix police department is that I want them policing with a purpose. And I would like to make that very clear what that means. Policing with a purpose means that we're going to ensure and nurture democracy. We're going to have justice for everyone. We're going to have a spirit of service, fundamental fairness and we're going to protect people from harm. I believe that those are the foundations of law enforcement, and we're going to treat people with dignity and respect, which I believe is the ethical foundation of all law enforcement encounters.

Richard Ruelas: Does that run counter -- I could see proponents of S.B. 1070 saying well that had a purpose here and you've said what the proponents would say is the purpose of S.B. 1070. Does S.B. 1070 fit into the purpose here?

Daniel Garcia: It fits perfectly. I used it as a foundation of how we're going to police with the Phoenix police department. For Senate bill 1070, policing with a purpose, insuring and nurturing democracy, justice, a spirit of service, fundamental fairness to everyone and protecting people from harm. If you're talking about the foundation of law enforcement or you're talking Senate bill 1070, what better principles could you be standing on than those.

Richard Ruelas: How do those principles play out on the street? Have you discussed reasonable suspicion?

Daniel Garcia: Absolutely. From my -- as soon as I got here I started talking to the officers, not only about policing with a purpose and how we're going to police the department but I was quickly assured that in relation to Senate bill 1070, the Phoenix police department has been enforcing that law since July of 2010 and we've had very few complaints in relation to that issue. And the main thing that I want from the community is strong dialogue on that issue. I believe that that meeting that we had that night gave us an opportunity to dispel a lot of myths, a lot of rumors, a lot of apprehension.

Richard Ruelas: He hasn't been -- they haven't been enforcing the parts -- once the court allows it, this part comes in, do you see -- do you anticipate a lot of changes in how or a lot of arrests under 2b?

Daniel Garcia: I really don't. I really don't. I think very little is going to change. You talk about reasonable suspicion, there's a couple of things you have to have first and foremost. You have to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred. And that crime can be a robbery, burglary, it can also be a traffic violation. That's the first thing you have to have before you encounter anybody. Anybody on any issue. The second thing is you have reasonable suspicion that they're here illegally. But you have to have the first before you get to the second. We're not going to be randomly walking up to people and saying are you here illegally or not? And the law is very specific on that. You have to have reasonable belief on a crime before you get to reasonable belief on status.

Richard Ruelas: All your life in the Dallas police department or your professional life in the Dallas police department, born and raised in Corpus Christi. What kind of stuff did you deal with as an officer, coming up?

Daniel Garcia: The immigration issue in Dallas, Texas, was absolutely nonexistent. I'm really surprised at the level that this has gotten to in the state of Arizona, but we take an oath of office to enforce the law and we have to do that and we will do that in the Phoenix police department and we're going to do it with dignity and respect.

Richard Ruelas: Did you see evidence of human smuggling?

Daniel Garcia: Yes, that type of issue is prevalent in all our major cities across the United States. Unfortunately, it is an epidemic that is crossing our country very strongly.

Richard Ruelas: So in encounters with say Spanish-speaking residents, what was your professional experience like a personal experience like with the immigrant community?
Daniel Garcia: In Dallas and in Phoenix here both, I've made it a strong effort to make sure that not only am I approachable, I may be the new face of the Phoenix police department but I want all my officers to be the face of the police department. I can't stress enough the importance to have strong dialogue with the community. I want the community to have a voice. A lot of people looked at this issue S.B. 1070 related just to the Hispanic community. I met with the Asian community last night. They had the same concerns, absolutely the same concerns, the do's and don'ts.

Richard Ruelas: Do you think that you get -- that there's some barriers because you're an outsider or people trust you more?

Daniel Garcia: A new face allows people an opportunity to look at something new and really. People want to give people an opportunity to succeed. I really believe that. I think it's been something where it's been a benefit for the city of Phoenix. Has been a benefit for me and I'm excited to be part of the city of Phoenix and very excited to be the chief of police of the Phoenix police department.

Richard Ruelas: And tell us about you.

Daniel Garcia: I'm married, we've lived in Dallas together for over 30 years and I've got two children, my son Daniel is 25 and my daughter is 20 and she's going to start nursing school.

Richard Ruelas: So is your son thinking about law enforcement?

Daniel Garcia: He's a professional musician. He's a saxophone player. He can really play.

Richard Ruelas: Wonderful, wonderful. So have you found aspects of Phoenix that remind you of Dallas?

Daniel Garcia: You know what? Let me tell you, Phoenix, Dallas are totally different in one perspective. Everything that's beautiful about Dallas is man-made, built. Phoenix has got a lot of just environmental beauty about it, the mountains, the desert environment. It's absolutely beautiful and I'm just taken aback by the environment here from an environment standpoint.

Richard Ruelas: So the beauty. We'll have to figure out the sports teams is. When the cardinals play the cowboys, I'm not sure -

Daniel Garcia: I've got two favorite teams in every sport now. [ Laughter ]

Richard Ruelas: So when the rangers play the Diamondbacks, there might be -

Daniel Garcia: Are we almost done? [ Laughter ] I'm just kidding.

Richard Ruelas: The Dallas stars against the coyotes, that's when we'll have you back.

Daniel Garcia: I've got two teams in every sport.

Richard Ruelas: We'll try to -- the mayor will try to get you outfitted.

Daniel Garcia: He did already.

Richard Ruelas: Chief, I hope this is the first of many visits to "Horizonte." I appreciate you coming to join us.

Daniel Garcia: My pleasure.

Richard Ruelas: That's our show for this Thursday night. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm going to take the chief out for some Diamondbacks lessons and I'm Richard Ruelas. Have a good evening.

Daniel Garcia:Phoenix Police Chief;

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