Eddie Garcia, chief of police for the City of San Jose, spoke to students, faculty, and staff of Bellarmine College Preparatory as part of the school’s yearlong Summit on Human Dignity and its focus on “Understanding Race in the 21st Century.”
During the January 18 address, which was followed by a question and answer period, Chief Garcia shared some of the challenges police officers face and how they are seeking to bridge divides and overcome fears in the community.
“This uniform is not an automatic ‘trust me’ costume,” Chief Garcia told the audience. “That right must be earned.” He went on to say, “To my very core, it’s the responsibility of every man and woman who wears this uniform to work tirelessly, so that everyone has the ability to live out their dreams, regardless of who you are, what you look like, or where you live. But this diligence must be undertaken responsibly, and it must be fair to our entire community, and it must be done constitutionally, or trust is lost.”
Following the assembly, in his January monthly newsletter to parents, Chris Meyercord, Bellarmine president, noted, “After naming an impressive list of initiatives undertaken by the SJPD, Chief Garcia said that as much as has been done, it’s not enough, and it’ll never be enough, because there is always room for further improvement … an important reminder to us all that no matter how far we have come, there is always going to be yet more to do. This is reminiscent of the Latin word magis used so often in Jesuit education as we strive always to seek the greater good.”
Chief Garcia concluded his remarks with some advice to Bellarmine students. “As future leaders … always strive for fairness.” He was among those scheduled to address Bellarmine’s 1,650 students regarding the theme of “Understanding Race in the 21st Century” during the school year. In October 2017, alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and USC professor, shared what it was like to be Asian at Bellarmine when he attended in the mid-to-late 1980s.
The justice theme, coordinated by faculty members Joe Cussen, Rod Theodule, and Carlos Jimenez, will culminate in the spring with a Justice Week Summit on Human Dignity. Previous justice themes at Bellarmine have included poverty, human trafficking, sustainability, immigration, and hunger.