In 2011 in San Jose, there were 39 homicides total. To compare so far this year, there have already have 33, with eight of those coming in the last 11 days.
San Jose's mayor opened this morning's press conference with a plea:
"My request to the community is support the police department, stand with us. We'll work together as we have in the past. If you are concerned about what's going on in your neighborhood, now is the time to get organized. An organized neighborhood has a capacity to help us immensely to deal with the problems in that neighborhood," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.
There is definitely concern in the neighborhoods of San Jose. In the past 11 days eight people have been murdered. Another six were shot during that time, but survived. Officials say the spike in violence could be because gangs sometimes like to make a statement at the beginning of the school year that they are in control.
"It's not unheard of to see retaliation occur particularly when school starts up," said San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore.
So what are city officials doing about it? First of all, they plan to spend more money on the problem.
"We've identified over $800,000 that we are going to be using overtime for specialized gang enforcement and violent crime enforcement in the city of San Jose," said Moore.
They're also intensifying and changing how they target at-risk youth. Gang task force members have reviewed the gang related murders and are now focusing on specific neighborhoods and certain gangs.
"As we speak we have street outreach workers that have been deployed out into the neighborhoods reaching out to specific gang impacted young people -- all with the aim of minimizing retaliation," said Park & Rec. Acting Asst. Director Angel Rios.
Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D) San Jose has released this statement:
"I am disappointed at the Mayor's decision to not consider putting more police officers on the streets in San Jose, especially since he welcomed CHP assistance earlier this week, and publicly acknowledged last week that 'we have a lot less officers and so that's hard on our capacity to respond to crimes'. 26 out of the 33 murders that have occurred in San Jose have occurred in the 23rd Assembly District, Chief Moore 'doesn't have the resources', and the only message that City Leadership has sent is that the police department is triaging emergency 911 calls."
ABC7 rides along with SJPD as they combat violence
Friday night, ABC7 rode along with San Jose police Sgt. John Boren, who oversees one of the gang units. He said there are thousands of gang members in San Jose and talked about the recent spike in homicides. "It's probably about the worst I've ever seen. Not so much as street level presence of gangsters walking around or milling about, or something like that, but more shootings, more violence."
Thursday night an 18-year-old wearing red in a Nortenio neighborhood was shot to death in front of a liquor store on King and Burdette. Known Nortenios gathered around the memorial, asking for donations.
"This is a Sureno-Nortenio town and that is who's battling it out, out here," said Boren.
Boren says the resources city leaders have now promised to add to the police department make a huge difference and overtime is a necessity.
"Right now you're pretty much have max saturation for gangs out here right now. When we pull back, especially if word gets out, when we pull back and the gangsters figure out what's going on, they'll take advantage," said Boren.
With more officers, they can make more stops to search cars. They pulled over a Mercedes that matches the description of one that's been used in recent crimes. A search produces a knife and alcohol. Boren said this was typical and there would be stops like it all night long.
The later it got, the more activity there was. As soon as our crew was dropped off, the police had to respond to a car chase where Surenos were chasing Nortenios. It resulted in a small crash and then police eventually found the suspects hiding in a yard and they recovered a gun.