Richard and Nan Garcia
A Very Special Agent
RICHARD GARCIA enjoyed an action-packed career in law enforcement — today his endowment puts veterans and first-generation students on the right path.
Spend a few moments with Richard Garcia (B.S. ’75) and it’s difficult not to be intrigued.
Over a 30-year career in law enforcement, Garcia pursued bank robbers and terrorists. He infiltrated international drug cartels and money laundering operations. He helped lead disaster recovery efforts following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and learned the fundamentals of undercover work training alongside FBI agent Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco.
“Yeah,” Garcia chuckles, “my life hasn’t lacked drama.”
As Garcia’s career progressed, he says he increasingly reflected on his life’s good fortune, including the professional springboard Texas State University provided. This led to the creation of the Richard and Nan Garcia Endowed Scholarship. The award benefits first-generation college students who are military veterans — a nod to Garcia’s son, Carlos, a U.S. Army veteran — and those interested in law enforcement careers.
“I was a first-generation college student and my Texas State degree opened up a world of opportunity for me,” says Garcia, noting that his brother, Robert, earned his criminal justice degree in 1976 before similarly entering the law enforcement ranks. “If I can plant that seed for someone else, it’s important I do that.”
As early as elementary school, Garcia knew he wanted to be a police officer when his father’s cousin, a San Antonio police officer, drove by the Garcia family home and allowed the 12-year-old Rich to turn on the patrol car’s lights and sirens.
Seeing education as a critical tool for social mobility, Garcia’s parents encouraged him and his younger brother, Robert, to attend college. When Garcia learned that Texas State had a criminal justice program, he knew he had found his school. “That was all I needed to hear,” Garcia says.
During his undergraduate years, Garcia soaked up experiences in and out of the classroom, especially those related to law enforcement. As a student dispatcher at the campus police department in Old Main, Garcia absorbed insights from his bosses, a retired FBI agent, and a former Dallas Police sergeant. Eager to understand the real-world application of classroom theories, Garcia shadowed criminal justice instructor Dave Flores, a San Antonio police detective.
“Seeing how Dave talked with people, I began to understand how informants were developed and utilized,” Garcia says. “It made me that much more excited to be a cop.
Months after graduation, Garcia joined the Dallas Police Department, quickly finding his way into tactical operations before becoming a hostage negotiator.
In 1980, Garcia moved to the FBI. Over a 25-year career in eight different field offices, including supervisory roles in Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., Garcia cultivated a reputation for unusual and imaginative undercover cases. Colleagues called him “Inspector Gadget” for his creative use of novel technology to penetrate criminal enterprises.
“The adrenaline is what drove me,” Garcia says, “and I loved thinking creatively to capture individuals doing harm in the world.”
After retiring from the FBI in 2005, Garcia shifted into the private sector. He served as the global security manager for Shell Oil in Houston and as senior vice president for Vanguard Defense Industries before launching the 3RB Consulting Group in 2014. The firm provides investigative analyses of data as well as cybersecurity support for corporations and government agencies.
The Garcias continue to feed the endowment, while Rich Garcia, a trustee on Texas State’s Development Foundation Board, also visits Texas State criminal justice classes to discuss law enforcement careers.
“Since I’m retired these days and there’s still a lot going on in the world, someone else has to keep up with it,” he says. ✪
By Daniel P. Smith
Hillviews Magazine, Summmer 2021