SJ police announce elimination of gang unit

September 19, 2010 5:28:57 PM PDT
Police and community leaders in San Jose plan to hold a news conference today to announce the elimination of a unit of the police force specifically dedicated to investigating gangs and violent crime.

The San Jose Police Department's Violent Crime Enforcement Team, which is credited with 1,000 gang-related arrests and 800 parole, probation and warrant searches each year, has been dissolved, presumably due to budget constraints, San Jose Police Officers' Association President George Beattie said.

"The elimination of this unit from the San Jose Police Department will have a devastating impact which cannot be estimated," Beattie said. "Unfortunately, the streets of San Jose will be less safe than they have been," he said.

According to the SJPOA, the Violent Crimes Enforcement Team assisted police patrol units in responding to 27 stabbings and shootings in the city since July.

Beattie did not specify how the decision to dissolve the unit was made, but said it likely depended on the approval of the city council.

"It characterizes the continued shrinking of our police department by a city council with the wrong priorities," Beattie said in a statement.

The 18 officers and three sergeants dedicated to the team will be absorbed into the police department's Metro Unit.

"No one will be getting laid off," Beattie said.

There are more than 50 active gangs in San Jose and more than 9,000 validated gang members, according to figures from the SJPOA. The News conference is scheduled to take place at noon at the Sunset Gardens Plaza Shopping Center.

City council members Nora Campos and Ash Kalra are expected to attend.


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