When Jared Hernandez was 15 years old, he signed up to be a part of the Milpitas Police Department’s Explorer program, which offers youth a glimpse into the world of law enforcement through hands-on training.
That was in 1991.
Now, 30 years later, Hernandez has been sworn in as Milpitas’ new Chief of Police. At the ceremony on October 8, he was sworn in by three of his five children. And his wife pinned the badge to his uniform.
Back in December of 2020, Hernandez had been appointed to the role of Acting Police Chief, following former Chief Armando Corpuz’s retirement. During his time as Acting Chief, Hernandez threw himself fully into the role, focusing on implementing new programs and cultivating stronger connections to the community.
When The Beat asked Hernandez what he was most proud of during his time as Acting Chief, he shared, “The thing I’m most proud of is the women and the men that come to work every day with purpose and continue to provide the high level of service that they do to the community. As leaders, we’re responsible for the culture of the organization and that has always been a strength here.”
After graduating from Milpitas High School (MHS), Hernandez became a part-time dispatcher at the Milpitas Police Department for 3 years, while also going to school at San Jose City College and San Jose State. Near the end of his time in the Explorer program, he served as an Adult Advisor, completing the program when he was 20. Within the Milpitas Police Department, Chief Hernandez also served as a Police Officer, a Sergeant, a Lieutenant, and a Captain. While he was Lieutenant, he managed the department’s Homeless Outreach Team and even oversaw the SWAT team.
As Chief, one of Hernandez’s focuses will be on crime management. He mentioned that people tend to focus on the enforcement side of the police’s function; however, there are also the components of prevention and deterrence. So Chief Hernandez recently started a youth program that’s currently being piloted, in collaboration with the Milpitas Unified School District, the City of Milpitas, and community groups.
“Enforcement needs to be the last resort,” said Chief Hernandez. “We need to put investments in teaching our youth skill sets and being better decision makers.”
He also added that “the youth program we’re piloting is meant to pair kids with opportunities with the ultimate goal at the end of the day to create productive humans that will not be committing crimes in the future.”
When asked about how crime has changed in Milpitas since the start of the pandemic, the Chief mentioned that there has definitely been a shift. Prior to the pandemic, Milpitas experienced a lot of vehicle burglaries. When the pandemic hit, a lot of the shopping areas that were targeted had emptier lots, so there weren’t many opportunities to steal from cars.
“We saw a huge dip in vehicle burglaries,” said Hernandez. “And then we saw an increase in commercial burglaries. A lot of the businesses were closed and were getting broken into since no one was around. Residential burglaries are slightly up in general, but they usually fluctuate.”
During his interview with The Beat, Chief Hernandez also shared his enthusiasm for some of the Milpitas Police Department’s accomplishments during 2021. Earlier this year, they started using the BolaWrap, a device that, at the push of a button, dispels string that wraps around a person, preventing them from moving. Officers can be up to 25 feet away when using the BolaWrap.
“It’s like putting on handcuffs remotely,” said the Chief. “It’s valuable because it allows officers an alternative to a use of force, and to control situations without putting themselves or other people at risk.”
Back in July, Chief Hernandez also worked to implement a traffic/citation diversion program for seniors over 65 and youth between 16 and 18. If anyone from these groups is pulled over and gets a ticket, they might be invited to a special traffic class, taught by Milpitas’ own traffic officers, and if they meet the criteria, their citation can be dismissed.
“We’ve done this already for three or four seniors,” said Hernandez. “They were really happy with it and enjoyed the class.”
As Hernandez moves forward, fully assuming the role of Milpitas’ eighth Chief of Police, he can’t help but look back and reflect on where it all began – with his time as a young Explorer.
In his Explorer years, Chief Hernandez felt as if he was being raised by the Milpitas Police Department. He has fond memories of doing homework after school at the police department with his fellow Explorers, and also helping with traffic control at MHS football games.
“To be able to give back to the city and the department that I was raised in, at this level, it’s amazing,” said the Chief.