SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the South Bay, the police chief of the Bay Area's largest city announced that he's leaving the department.
San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata made the announcement Tuesday morning that he is leaving in March to take on a new role with the county.
The chief issued this statement:
"This decision was not easy, but after careful consideration, I believe it is the right time for me to embark on a new role with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. I am incredibly grateful for the support and encouragement I have received throughout my career. It is the collaboration with the residents, community leaders, City Administration, Mayor and Council, and countless Department members who made being Chief of Police possible. Our success has been a direct result of the hard work, dedication, and professionalism shown by every member of this department, every day. I have full faith and confidence that the unparalleled commitment to this community and the high standards that have made SJPD the leader in our profession will continue. I am forever grateful for the memories and friendships I made within the organization and in the community. It is essential that the great work San José officers do is supported by successful investigations and prosecutions at the District Attorney's office. Like me, our District Attorney believes in providing the highest level of service to our community and I look forward to continuing to do that in a new capacity just across the street."
Mata has been with the department for 28 years and has been chief for three.
He'll now work as the Investigations Bureau Chief for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
"The District Attorneys Bureau of Investigation has approximately 100 investigators who are police officers that have come to work for the DA's office from other departments," DA Jeff Rosen said. "They're essentially detectives, and our Bureau of Investigations investigates all kinds of crimes in the county."
Rosen spoke with ABC7 about Mata's new role.
"Chief Mata is going from handling everything San Jose-related to a little bit of, in some sense, an even broader focus in that a lot of the things that our Bureau of Investigations does is help other agencies in the county, other police departments with particularly complex or challenging investigations," Rosen said.
The department has seen multiple controversies in recent years.
That includes an investigation that revealed racist text messages by an officer who shot a Black man that had wrestled away a gun from someone involved in a fight at a restaurant.
One other controversy saw an officer accused of masturbating while responding to a call at a home for domestic disturbance. The department later released video shows Mata walking the fired officer out of the door.
Despite the challenges, San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said he is pleased with Mata's work.
"He's closed that gap between City Hall and the community and put a premium on accountability and transparency," Mahan said. "He has fired officers for misconduct, I mean, he has been serious about walking the walk on holding everyone to a very high standard."
Mahan said he'd like the replacement search to be both within the police department and across the country.
The Silicon Valley chapter of the NAACP say that they would like to see someone from outside of San Jose take on the role.
"A police chief that comes in, understands that the police belong to the community. And they're not an occupying force," said Reverend Jethroe Moore II with the Silicon Valley NAACP. "A police department that is diverse and concerned about diverse issues, and will do whatever they can to reveal and get rid of bad cops."
The city manager said in a statement that they hope to announce an interim chief and start the recruitment process before Mata leaves in March.
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