John Torrez was just 19 years old when he first started working for the Milpitas Police Department (MPD).
This was back in 1991, when he was hired as a Paid Records Intern.
From there, he would go on to build an impressive career at the organization; one that would span 32 years serving the city that he grew up in.
And now Torrez, who currently serves as Assistant Chief of Police, is retiring from the MPD.
As the senior-most member of the Milpitas Police Department, Torrez carries a great deal of history and knowledge about the inner workings of the organization. This has all proved beneficial across many different occasions throughout the years.
In fact, in an interview with The Beat, Police Chief Jared Hernandez spoke of how Torrez wanted to actually retire last year. But since Hernandez was still new in his role as Chief, and they were all going through a transition, he asked Torrez if he could stick around a bit longer to offer support. He knew that Torrez had a deep understanding of the department – one that would be highly beneficial during that time.
Torrez agreed to stay.
“John stuck around for an additional year so that we could work to continue growing our officers and managers,” said Chief Hernandez. “He did that, when he didn’t have to. It speaks to how important this city and this organization are to John.”
He added: “I’ve relied a lot this past year on John to make sure we maintain that good culture. And I think he did a fantastic job in doing that.”
Before Torrez started working for the MPD, he worked at Orchard Supply on Milpitas Blvd. As a teenager, he spent a few years working across various positions at the hardware store (which ended up closing in November 2018). At the time, Torrez, who graduated from Milpitas High School, was studying Administration of Justice at Ohlone College, and had also gone to San Jose State University.
Then one day, he found out that one of his friends got hired as a police officer at the Milpitas Police Department.
“When my friend started working here, I went on a ride along…and I just knew it was for me,” said Torrez in an interview with The Beat.
While he worked in Records, Torrez also signed up for the Police Explorer program, which is designed to offer youth (ages 14-20) hands-on experiences in law enforcement.
In 1992, he went on to work as a Dispatch Intern. Then he became a Communications Dispatcher on a part-time basis. In 1994, he was hired as a full-time Communications Dispatcher.
Soon after, in 1995, he became a police officer.
“I’ve worked in every spot at the department,” Torrez said.
Torrez isn’t exaggerating, either.
After becoming a police officer, he served in a variety of other positions, including Canine Handler, Field Training Officer, Field Evidence Technician, Terrorism Liaison Officer, and Traffic Investigator. He has also worked as a Sergeant and Lieutenant, and in 2020, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and commanded the Special Operations Division.
He was most recently promoted to Assistant Police Chief in February 2022.
Over the last three decades, Torrez has witnessed immense growth and evolution at the police department. He spoke of seeing the differences brought about by technology and new laws. But despite the changes, he notes that the core values of the police department have always remained the same:
“We’ve changed practices, policies, and technology, because we keep up with the times. But the core fundamentals have always been the same – being in partnership with the community,” said Torrez. “Being responsive to the community’s needs and building those relationships. That hasn’t changed in the time I’ve been there. That’s what makes it special.”
Torrez’s last day with the Milpitas Police Department is today, March 2, 2023.
“I don’t have anything set in stone for retirement,” said Torrez. “That’s what’s both scary and liberating. I have that freedom to do whatever I want. Maybe I’ll find a part-time job to keep myself busy, or travel, or just spend time with my family.”
And what will Torrez miss most about the job?
“The people. I enjoy working with everybody that’s here. And the ability to pass on things I’ve learned over the years. And also to see it all through the newest officer’s eyes,” said Toreez.
He also spoke of how much he’ll miss interacting with the community through events like Coffee with a Cop. And he is grateful for all the community support that the people of Milpitas have lent over all these years.
Torrez also spoke of how grateful he has been for his family, who have been supportive of him during his entire career:
“I’m thankful for my family,” he said. “Because of their involvement throughout my years here, it’s like they’re kind of retired, too.”
Chief Hernandez feels that Torrez’s departure is a big loss for the organization. He fondly recalled working up the ranks with Torrez. Both Hernandez and Torrez grew up in Milpitas, and had similar trajectories in their career with the police department. Hernandez became a police officer in 1996 – the year after Torrez started serving in a sworn capacity.
“There were some key areas where John really brought this organization to the next level,” said Hernandez.
He spoke of Torrez’s involvement in leading the department’s communications on social media, and other ways in which he has worked to engage with the community. He also said that Torrez was one of the best K9 officers he’s ever seen, and that Torrez had done a great deal to lead and develop the department’s K9 program.
“He’s going to be greatly missed,” said Chief Hernandez. “His loyalty and his care for this community is tremendous.”