San Jose officials, police hold crime prevention meeting

May 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Jose is reacting to a recent spike in violent crime with a community meeting. It was a chance for neighbors concerned about their safety to strategize crime prevention.

Residents were given tips on how to protect themselves, how to make it difficult for a burglar to get into your home, how to be a good witness, but they were also given the opportunity to talk about their frustrations.

"For the first time in 34 years I am not feeling safe," said San Jose resident Cindy Calderon.

Calderon joined a roomful of San Jose residents inside the Santa Teresa Library for a crime prevention meeting hosted by Councilmember Ash Kalra. Kalra says he feels the concern of his constituents.

"We've been feeling it for a long time. I think the violence over the weekend it just exacerbates it," said Kalra.

Three people were killed in San Jose over the weekend, including two students from Independence High School. The teens were shot to death Sunday evening in the parking lot behind the Kohl's Shopping Center on Rhinehart Drive.

Calderon believes the city simply needs more police officers. So she spoke up during the meeting.

"My question is, which I didn't get answered, is when are we going to get officers? Are they hiring?" said Calderon.

"The city is in the process of bringing in 21 community service officers, which are not full peace officers, and they're going to be handling cold calls and burglaries and those types of things so that the guys with the guns can do the serious work," said Jose Salcido from the mayor's office.

"We're budgeted for 1,100 officers. We have less than 1,000. That means we do have the money to have officers right now. Money is not the problem. The problem is people don't want to work for the city of San Jose and they're leaving for other departments," said Kalra.

Kalra says meetings to discuss these issues need to continue, whether times are good or bad.

Police released the names of the youngest victims killed. They are 15-year-old Christian Comilang and 16-year-old Johnson Cular.

Police told ABC7 News they are going through surveillance video from nearby businesses, but so far no suspect has been identified.

Kalra said earlier on Wednesday the spike in crime is alarming. He said, "Homicides are the tip of the iceberg, because they get the attention, but the reality is we're seeing crime at every level higher than it's been in years. So burglaries, auto break-ins... there's no neighborhood that's really been safe from this increase in crime."

The San Jose Police Officers Association president told ABC7 News the increase in crime in the city has come as the number of officers on the street has dwindled. They blame pay cuts and the passing of pension reform for the exodus of officers leaving the city for other departments in the Bay Area.

Right now the city and police officer's union are in contract negotiations, with a binding arbitration ruling expected next month.


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