San Jose police call attention to stretched resources

August 6, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tuesday was National Night Out, where communities all over the country get together and take a stand against crime. In San Jose, the annual event comes as the police department continues to struggle with low staffing numbers and even lower morale.

There are just over 1,000 officers for a city of over one million people. According to the police officers' union, the city's most recent murder could have been avoided if the department wasn't spread so thin.

San Jose Detective James Gonzales insists the police department is in a state of crisis, especially after the city's 30th homicide Saturday night, which took the life of a 19-year-old San Jose State University nursing student. The unintended victim was caught in the cross fire while riding in a car downtown.

"We cannot patrol the city with the number of officers we have and innocent people are dying," Gonzales said.

Gonzales says Saturday night was also the first time 'no' officers volunteered to work overtime downtown -- because they were all just too tired and burnt out. The department still required a few to stay late.

Police Chief Larry Esquivel tried to be optimistic while attending national night out events. He knows petty crimes, property crimes, and homicides are all on the rise. Esquivel is relying on the department's 45 newest academy recruits to fill in the gaps.

"We need the extra overtime cars but we don't want to exhaust our officers, that's why these recruits are very important so we reduce the number of overtime cars," Esquivel said.

But the recruits won't be self-sufficient for several more weeks, which means the officer overtime will continue.

"I can understand them being tired, but somewhere, something has to give because the community's safety is important," San Jose resident Shaunte Collins said.


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