SANTA FE – Eric Garcia, a longtime State Police officer and director of public safety in Española since late 2012, has been named the new Santa Fe police chief.
Garcia, 42, succeeds Ray Rael, who stepped down in March. Garcia will start his new position June 16 and earn $104,000 per year, according to a city news release. Garcia resides in Santa Fe with his wife and two children.
Garcia said the Santa Fe Police Department has a “strong core” of quality employees. “My task is to take that strong core and help them move forward with additional goals and initiatives,” he said.
Last month, Garcia, who served 18 years in the State Police, was named as one of four finalists for the Santa Fe chief position.
“Eric shares my vision for the City of Santa Fe by working with various community partners to build bridges of cultural understanding,” said Mayor Javier Gonzales in the city news release. “I have talked to him specifically about training, improving moral and broader community involvement for our police officers.”
Sgt. Matt Martinez of the Santa Fe Police Officers Association issued a statement Monday saying the union supports the selection of Garcia “100 percent.”
The union also reiterated its long-held support for reverting back to a work week of four days of 10-hour shifts. The four-day workweek was eliminated by former chief Rael in favor of a standard five eight-hour days. Rael reported the change reduced overtime costs by about $100,000 a year.
“The policewomen and policemen of this department continue to work 50-hour-plus work weeks, sometimes with only one or no days off due to court appearances and deserve to spend time with their families, ” the union said.
Garcia said on Monday that he has looked at several 4-10 workweek options and is supportive of returning to the 4-10 schedule. He said he will meet with the city administration “and pick the best one,” possibly to be implemented by August-September.
Garcia said he worked with the 4-10 schedule while at the State Police, saying overlapping shifts, cost savings and improved morale “made it a win-win” scenario.
The other finalists for chief were former Santa Fe police captain and current Santa Fe Community College educator Jerry Trujillo; Randy Foster, a current Santa Fe County deputy who formerly was deputy chief in the Los Alamos police department; and former Albuquerque Deputy Chief Joseph Silva.