San Jose urged to call in help to combat violence

August 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There have been 10 shootings in a little more than a week; five of them were fatal. Now there are claims that the violence is spinning out of control in a city that brags about being among the safest in the country. Violent crime is getting so bad in San Jose one state assemblywoman is demanding that the police chief call in reinforcements. It may surprise a lot of people to learn that crime has become so serious there.

San Jose has had six homicides in the past eight days at the same time the police department is at its lowing staffing levels in more than a decade.

San Jose's Police Chief Chris Moore quickly reacted to a letter sent out by St. Assm. Nora Campos, D-San Jose. She says it appears crime in the city is spiraling out of control and the police chief needs to admit he needs help from the CHP.

"It has been done in other cities in the Bay Area on an as needed basis. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I don't think we're at that point just yet. So while, again, I acknowledge the speaker's letter, I would have preferred to have a conversation with her ahead of time to know that it's coming," said Moore.

Campos has harsh criticism for city leaders. The department has just over 1,000 officers to patrol a city of nearly one million people.

"It's almost saying that there's an invitation to come into our city because the police will not be able to respond to those kind of crimes," said Campos.

A shooting Monday night became San Jose's 30th homicide of the year, three more than at this time last year. The Police Officers Association says it wants the police chief to ask for outside help.

"We absolutely need help. Our officers are tired, they're overworked, they're being held over and it's getting to a critical situation and that safety doesn't just affect us, it affects the public as well," said San Jose Police Officer Franco Vado.

Some city leaders say before the city turns to the CHP, it needs to put 17 officers now doing background checks on new recruits back out on patrol and have retired officers do that work.

"We've heard over and over again that there's not enough resources, we have resources we can put into play. We need to do that," said San Jose City Councilmember Rose Herrera.

The mayor, who was often at odds with Campos when she served on the San Jose City Council, welcomed her letter.

"We are always happy to get support from the CHP and if they have extra officers, which I would be kind of surprised that they do, but we'd be happy to have them come down and work with our department," said Reed.

"We are not there, but again, it's something that we have to evaluate literally day by day given where we are today," said Moore.

Moore says before he makes any request to the CHP, he will have conversations with the mayor and the City Council, as well as the CHP commissioner to know that resources at the state level can be spared.

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