San Jose murder rate soars compared to 2010

May 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
What is happening to the city that was once called the Safest Big City in the Country? That's what people in San Jose are wondering after three people were killed there this weekend. We're half way through the year an already there are as many murders as there were in all of 2010.

Two teenagers were shot on Sunday near Rinehart Drive and Clogston Court. They have been ID'd as 15-year-old Christian Comilang and 16-year-old Johnson Cular. A lot of people have been coming by the memorial to leave flowers and light candles. Those who live and work in San Jose say they need help stopping the violence.

Elizabeth Sheehan is a parent who finds herself praying a lot these days. Especially since finding out San Jose's two youngest murder victims, were boys from her neighborhood.

"It needs to stop. What is it going to take for someone to see the light and realize enough is enough?" said Sheehan.

She's not the only one tired of the violence. So far this year, there have been 19 murders in the city.

"We're in crisis mode, its time. If 19 isn't high enough, then 20? I mean, when is it time?" said Joe Nieto from the Plata Arroyo Neighborhood Watch.

The number of homicides per year in San Jose has steadily increased. Last year, there were 46 - the highest number in 20 years. In 2011, there were 40. But in 2010, there were 20.

"The staffing decreases that this department has suffered in the past two years, is corresponding to the number of homicides going up. I don't know how you can ignore it," said Sgt. Jim Unland, the Police Officers Association president.

San Jose continues to struggle with its shrinking police department. The department's union insists pension cuts and layoffs are to blame for having 200 fewer officers on the streets right now. The city is authorized to have 1,100, but there are just 900 working full-time, solo shifts.

"Depleted staffing doesn't help, but when asking the question whether more officers on the streets would have prevented that homicide, that's a question almost impossible to answer," said San Jose Police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

Investigators are also looking for trends or patterns in this years' homicides, but they can't find any. A map shows the locations of the homicides and they're all over the city. Police confirm only two are gang related.

When asked if he still considered San Jose to be the Safest Large City in the Country, Nieto said, "No."

One of the neighborhood watch groups in East San Jose is increasing its patrols and they're also having more meetings. City Councilman Ash Kalra, who represents those in South San Jose, plans to have a special crime prevention meeting on Wednesday.


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