Police Chief Takes Heat for Homicides

Who should hold sway over these city streets? It’s a debate that is taking place behind closed doors and in front of the media now that San Jose is on pace to break the annual record for homicides going back 15 years.

Between Aug. 13 and Aug. 21, seven people were killed and five wounded in shootings, according to the Mercury News. There have been 32 reported homicides in San Jose this year. In 2011, there were a total of 39, according to SJPD statistics.

On Friday morning, Police Chief Chris Moore will address the media following a meeting of Mayor Chuck Reed’s Gang Prevention Task Force Policy Team. City Manager Debra Figone sent a memo to the mayor and City Council on Wednesday, stating, “At this news conference I anticipate that the Police Department will be able to report on recent results of this coordinated effort to investigate these crimes, disrupt gang activity, and stop the violence.”

Police union leaders have chalked up the increase in homicides as well as property crimes, assaults and rapes, as a direct correlation to cutbacks and officers leaving the department for other agencies or early retirement.

Following a mini-mutiny among the Police Officers Association leadership, in which a preliminary no-confidence vote
regarding the chief’s performance was raised and quickly squashed, Moore is now receiving some not-so-subtle criticism from elected officials from the hard-hit east side of San Jose.

On Tuesday, State Assemblymember Nora Campos (D-San Jose) sent an “open letter” to Moore, encouraging him to ask the California Highway Patrol for assistance in combatting crime and patrolling city streets. Oakland, Richmond and other areas that are home to a substantial number of violent crimes have gone the CHP assistance route, but San Jose is not near that level at this time.

In the last paragraph of her letter, Campos writes that she would like to “put political rhetoric aside,” which would be easier to believe if it wasn’t an “open letter” to Moore and the media.

“As is normally the case in San Jose, you will likely take this letter to the Mayor and City Manager for counsel,” Campos writes. “If that is in fact the case, know that this request is driven by what I believe to be our mutual desire to keep the residents of our San Jose safe. At least for this moment, let us put political rhetoric aside and fight for the very people that have put their trust in us.”

The chief told the media “no thanks” in response to Campos’ suggestion, but more than likely he bristled at the thought of giving up control of some of his city streets to an outside organization, not to mention taking law enforcement tips from a legislator. One need only look at the airport turf war that took place last year between SJPD and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office to understand the significance of jurisdiction. Bringing in the CHP at this stage would be equivalent to Moore admitting early defeat.

While the chief and SJPD are limited in what they can do due to budgetary restraints, it’s obvious that a new strategy is being devised by SJPD as all available resources are directed to patrol. But already there are concerns that SJPD officers are turning their backs as a result of less pay and benefits and greater risk on the job.

On Monday, pastors Sonny and Linda Lara will hold a prayer vigil at 7pm at City Hall outside by the Rotunda. Families of the recent homicides in San Jose will be there, and Chief Moore will also speak.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

21 Comments

  1. Does this Fool honestly believe that he has control of the streets???? Maybe if he got out from behind the Donut counter , he would have a clue as to whats going on out on the streets of San Jose. The Officers that are on the streets are doing everything they can with what they a have. WITH LITTLE or NO support from their Puppet leader &/or City Council. San jose’s Finest should be applauded , instead of maligned daily( by that birdcageliner “The Merc.”). Keep our public safety like you do and they will continue to Jump ship for better cities and agencies.

  2. The blame for this rests entirely on the Mayor and Council in San Jose.  You beat up on the cops enough and they will inevitably turn their back on you and the community.  Burglaries, rapes, robberies, assaults, and murders all dramatically up.  Many cops in San Jose are leaving for cities that understand just important public safety officers are and treat them with respect.  This will continue to get worse and worse.  I feel sorry for the citizens of San Jose who ultimately pay the price with increased crime, fear, and decreased property values.

  3. The reality is that it probably was Campos’ letter that is responsible for all the mobilization, overtime and whatnot happening the police department.  I spent about an hour in my car today, and it seemed like I must have heard something on KCBS about every 5 minutes on the San Jose homicide problem and what was being done about it.

    Not that Campos is a hero here.  Politicians seem to react to the actions of political adversaries more than they seem to react to real problems.  Somehow we need to train them to react to real problems.

  4. “So instead of criticizing the Police Chief or laying blame at the current Mayor how about put it where it belongs on your self, your brother and your old cronies that gave away this city with crazy overpayments to unions”.(un) Aware D5
     
      So its those racist, greedy, overpaid frauds that are causing this rise in crime.  Yeah, I thought so.  Oh yeah….pension reform would fix that.  Keep dreaming.

  5. I don’t think the blame for the increase in crime rests on any one but ourselves. Citizens have depended on the Mayor, Council, the Police Chief, legislators, and the Police instead of fixing problems in their own homes and neighborhoods.

    Who do you think are raising these criminals? Who do you think are hiding, and protecting these murderers, rapists, robbers? Who do you think are the ones ignoring their mentally ill family members? Who is watching crime in their neighborhoods and NOT reporting it?

    The time has come to stop passing the blame off on everyone but ourselves. It’s time for citizens to get engaged, involved, and active in their communities, and get help for family members who are out there on the streets committing these crimes. “Denial isn’t an Egyptian River you know!”

    • Kathleen , I respectfully disagree , as I see it , It is the Mayors & Councils duty to provide Essential services. Two of the most important are ; 1) to bring income into the City 2) provide for Public Safety. I haven’t seen of heard on any mayor companies coming to San Jose, and well we can see what has happened to our Public Safety. You are correct in that all San Jose residents should get or be involved. but unfortunately that just isn’t happening here in San Jose

      • DISGUSTED IN SAN JOSE,
        You and I are on the same page, even though we are saying it differently. I personally think that our community needs to be part of the solution. Rarely, if ever does the media or the City hold families, individuals, and parents accountable for the actions, or I should say inaction of what goes on in their homes, and or neighborhoods.

        People see and hear things that they don’t report that could assist the PD in solving crimes, or reduce crime. They don’t want to get involved, or they just simply don’t care. (How many people do you think voted for V and B and didn’t do their homework first?)

        Families and individuals need to stop pointing fingers, and take ownership for their part in crime. They need to get help for violent family members, and those who are mentally ill, and stop enabling them, and protecting them while they reek havoc in our communities. 

        As to bringing business to San Jose to help revenue and the job market: The economy is bad everywhere, and businesses are suffering across the country because large corporations are outsourcing employment. We are far too dependent on foreign products, and too cheap to pay a fair wage!

        I’ll stop there because I get angry just thinking about the way corporations have gutted this country to make a profit!

  6. And then you have a councilman, Liccardo, who has the gall to go on TV and start spouting off how the crime spike is due to the early prisoner release. Really Sam? Do you think people are that stupid? Talk about deflection. You are Chuck are two peas in a pod! You two are pathetic at best. The other council person should start thinking about distancing themselves from these two crazies. They will bring your career down the toilet with them when they are held to answer about their misdealings and lies. This San Jose is turning into one corrupt little “town”  SJ doesnt deserve to be recognized as a city. Deny, deny and deny…. One only needs to watch the interview between NBC Jenna Susko and a mayor caught flat footed lying to the face of the camera and his audience. Um yes Mr Mayor the report does say that you inflated a lot of numbers that affected more than just pension but bond holders too. This place stinks to high heaven!

  7. Maybe the Mayor’s $4.2M budgeted for the gang task force this year would be better spent on more police officers because apparently the task force is not successful.

  8. Hey Ms Campos did you send an Open Letter to your brother Xavier too?  He was the self proclaimed Gang Specialist at MACSA for years (remember how he distanced himself from the embezzlement scandal over there by saying he has focused his work and responsibility on the gang intervention programs).  He did 20 years of Gang prevention work and now 2 years of City Council work and yet there is a HUGE out of control gang problem in his district, the same district YOU left a mess.  So instead of criticizing the Police Chief or laying blame at the current Mayor how about put it where it belongs on your self, your brother and your old cronies that gave away this city with crazy overpayments to unions. 

    How about focusing your attention on the state problems which is where your work is now?  Or would you prefer to ignore that too or focus on frivolous things like legislation for Little Saigon signs (yeah thats really gonna help San Jose)

    You’re a joke.  Your brother is a joke and your entire political career is a joke.  This city has real issues and real problems your political grandstanding isn’t help to solve them.

  9. The mayor, city manager, and the chief need to quit changing the mantra that we are still one of the safest big cities and the recent murders were just an anomaly. There is no need for a study session on Sept 11 to find reasons for the increase in violent crime and property crimes. The reasons are obvious and someone needs to be a leader and state the obvious. There are no resources at the police department to reallocate as alluded to by the chief and mayor at the recent press conference. The city manager is fooling herself if she thinks the mayors gang task force being “mobilized” does any good. In the past, the lid was kept on gang violence by aggressive and proactive police work. After 400 officers have left in the past few years because of deplorable working conditions and wages, the department is mostly reactionary and there are few investigators left to do follow up work. Until the mayor and city manager address why 400 officers have left the department, anything else is just a distraction from the real problem.

  10. One additional thought; at the recent press conference it was said that officers are working overtime to deal with the violence. While that is true, it is a band aid solution as the officers are getting totally burnt out. This leads to fatigue and a compromising of the officer’s safety, health, and decision making abilities. Ironically, disability rates will go up which will be used against them by this mayor. Also, when the officers yearly salaries by the local rag, they will be inflated due to the overtime which this mayor will twist around to point at how overpaid the officers are. Amazing.

  11. On the one hand, the Chief absolutely should take the heat for not being honest with the public about the PD basically having reached the limits of what the PD can do with available resources.

    Though it might cost him politically – hell, it could cost him his job to be so honest – he (or someone) ought to simply come out and say,

    “Look. This is the new reality. The PD has been gutted and cut beyond the bone. There is little else we can except deal the worst incidents and triage the rest and try to keep one another safe – if for no other reason than that we can’t afford to have any more officers go out on disability. Until the city – citizens and leadership – choose to make public safety an actual priority again – above pet projects, vanity projects, low-income housing, golf courses, Hayes Mansion, cultural centers, and all the other crap that sucks the life out of the general fund – this will remain the new reality.”

    Maybe everyone needs to get set up to start doing online reporting at all the new libraries they opened. Maybe they could set up more computers at the Mexican Heritage Plaza to do online crime reporting.

    Or maybe City Hall could do the responsible thing and acknowledge what a colossal Cluster-F Measure B has turned out to be, decline to fight it in court, let it be overturned and start to take fiscal responsibility seriously by doing legal negotiation with the various employee groups and eliminating the expenditures for non-essential city services.

    But there’s too much politics in pork – especially in SJ, too much arrogance to admit mistakes – especially in Mayor Reed, too much in bed with certain developers to admit that the A’s stadium is a pet project we can ill afford, and too great a pride/conceit to admit that the worst-case scenario proposed by the opponents of Measure B were actually right about the outcomes of its passage.

  12. 400.. there was near 1600 in 2010,, now the police are saying they have under a thousand… and a hundred are injured.  Fire the city manager and let Reed and liccardo term out…

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