San Jose has been struggling to keep up with rising crime at the same time it has lost 400 officers due to layoffs and resignations. But over the past year, it has discovered it has seen a 7 percent drop in citizen complaints, according to the independent police auditor.
"Between March of 2012 and March of 2013, to know that our complaint numbers have gone down, our sustained complaints have gone down, I think is reflective of the fact that we as a department are driving the right direction in providing customer service," San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.
And now the tone of the department is changing, from one of dwindling ranks and resources, to one of pro-active goals and stronger ties to the public it serves. It's an initiative called RCITI -- Respect, Crime reduction, Investing in our people, Transparency, and Innovation.
"You can't put a police officer on every single corner, but you can put a neighbor on every single corner and so Next Door makes it easy for people to be able to report suspicious activity and in many cases prevent it from becoming a crime," Next Door co-founder Sarah Leary said.
Next Door is part of the initiative, too. The acting San Jose police chief has begun posting crime alerts and soliciting help on the website. San Jose has over 300 Next Door sites, targeting specific neighborhoods and subdivisions.
"Really driving the point of Next Door, getting people online to talk to each other, getting them to communicate, and most importantly, when it comes to property crimes, reporting suspicious activity," Dwyer said.
Teddy Morse spends about 20 hours a week leading a next door site, linking over 240 neighbors.
"I think it can make a difference; I believe we're already seeing it," Morse said. "People are communicating more on issues that are happening, especially criminal issues, and it's making us all more aware to look out for each other."
As part of its campaign, San Jose police officers will be handing out business-sized cards to promote where residents can connect on its social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and now, Next Door.