San Jose PD launches 'guardian' program to speed up active shooter response

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the wake of the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the San Jose Police Department is launching a new program to beef up its active shooter response.

"The quicker we have our men and women engaging a shooter, the more lives are going to be saved," said Police Chief Eddie Garcia at a media briefing Thursday afternoon. "I don't think there's a police chief in this country that's not looking at the way they do business and how they respond to these things."

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The department will strategically place officers across the city, whose primary job will be to respond to active shooter reports at schools and big scale events.

"We can't wait for legislation to try and fix this problem," said Garcia. "Our residents want to know what their police department is doing to protect them."

On the school side of the 'guardian' program, a total of 18 officers, equipped with carbine rifles and door-breaching tools, will work throughout the school day once students return later this month. This portion is expected to cost $3 million in its first year and will be funded by the department's overtime budget.

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"You can never practice and train enough, drill enough, and so to have SJPD that close I think is a great idea," said Chris Funk, superintendent of Eastside Union High School District, which serves more than 20,000 students.

The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest at Plaza de Cesar Chavez downtown is expected to draw more than 40,000 attendees over its three-day run this weekend and will also see an added security presence. Staffing for these types of events will be determined on a case-by-case basis throughout the year. The anticipated cost for the events portion of the 'guardian' program has yet to be determined.

"Having everybody on the same page has given us a strong sense of confidence, for making sure that we have a great weekend, and that people are able to enjoy the fest and feel safe," said Brendan Rawson, San Jose Jazz executive director.

Community members were encouraged by the police chief's announcement.

"It kind of gives you a sense of security to know that someone in the area is ready to handle something like this," said San Jose resident Dawn Rockhill.
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