San Jose increasing patrols for Cinco de Mayo

SAN JOSE, Calif.

The San Jose Police Department and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department are putting extra officers, deputies, and patrols on the streets. The police also have what they call a "diversion plan" in place in case there is a situation of traffic gridlock or any situation which seems to threaten the public or businesses.

At Sweet Passions Bakery in San Jose, they are decorating cakes but dreading the weekend because the strip mall along Alum Rock Avenue where they're located is often ground zero for vandalism during Cinco de Mayo. "Last year, we had problems with breaking windows and people drinking and passing out here, so I've just got to be careful. I don't know what we can do, but it's always a problem," Dilanthi Perera told ABC7 News.

A gang-related beating death in Roosevelt Park just last week is adding to concerns. Police and other agencies say they are prepared and taking action to minimize any problems. "We're going to be fully deployed, not only on the suppression side of enforcement, but even on the prevention and intervention side," said Mario Marciel with the gang prevention task force.

In the past though, troublemakers have managed to hijack a holiday intended to be a cultural celebration of pride. In 2006, police made 56 arrests when crowds got out of control. Many people in downtown say they won't be there when the drinking starts. "Unfortunately, it gets too rowdy so I'd rather just stay home and be safe," Margo Nunez said. "We're pretty much staying away from downtown. Don't want to expose my children to the violence or anything that would go bad here," Maria Riohas said.

There are a number of bars and restaurants looking forward to the boost in business and city leaders are confident it can and will be a successful weekend. "I think the department has shown that the police have really done a masterful job in handling crowds and diverting traffic and ensuring we've got a safe downtown," Councilman Sam Liccardo said.

The problems last year came when a rogue downtown crowd moved to the east side leaving small business owners with an expensive mess. "It's just a waste, waste of money, waste of time, everything. It really hurts," said Claudia Arreola at Mex Tamal Factory.

On the gang intervention front, the city is actually sending some at-risk teenagers on out-of-town excursions to keep them away from what could be a potentially volatile situation. The emphasis is on Cinco de Mayo Saturday, but the extra precautions begin Friday night and run through Sunday.

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