Violent Crime Drops in San Jose, Yet Residents Feel Less Safe

San Jose residents feel less safe despite falling crime rates, according to an annual state-of-the-city audit.

Major violent crimes in the city dropped by 9 percent in 2013-14 compared to the prior fiscal year. Homicides fell by 16 percent. Even though the police force's numbers continued to dwindle and the number of 9-1-1 calls surged by 21 percent, the San Jose Police Department actually improved response times.

But just 46 percScreen Shot 2014-12-22 at 2.24.23 PMent of resident surveyed gave the SJPD a rating of "good" or "excellent." Ninety-five percent said the city needs to boost the overall sense of safety.

Perceptions of public safety may have been influenced by the recent mayoral campaign, in which the police union blamed pension reform for decimating the police force and making the city less safe. Crime is cyclical, though, so perspective could also be in order.

San Jose, a city of more than a million people, saw 28,725 major crimes in 2013—a 10 percent decrease from 2012 but 12 percent more than a decade ago.

Major crimes include violent crimes—robbery, aggravated assault, rape and homicide)— and property crimes. There were 38 homicides last year, which was seven fewer than 2012 but more than the 10-year average of 31 a year.

Historically, San Jose has held a violent crime rate below the state and national averages. In 2012, the city surpassed those averages, requiring it to relinquish the oft-stated designation as being the "Safest Big City" in the nation.

But in 2013, crime dropped once more below state and national averages, according to the city's yearly report, compiled under the purview of City Auditor Sharon Erickson.

Read the rest of the police audit here. For the rest of the audit, which includes a section for each city department, click here.

18 Comments

  1. Yeah , that all depends on who’s survey you believe . it is bad out there and its disingenuous to tell the public that everything is ok. There are MANY crimes that go un reported

  2. This is the legacy of Dave Cortese’s campaign for Mayor. His strategy of fear mongering has hurt the city.

    If the public perceives crime to be high, which is what his campaign and supporters alleged was true through their mailers and public messaging, then that perception will cause damage to the city even if it is not based in fact. Even if crime is going down in a city, the perception that crime is on the rise hurts property values and the local economy. It hurts the reputation of the city, and the identity of the city in the eyes of its residents is weakened.

    Disgusted’s statement that crime statistics are subjective is false. It’s true that it is possible to produce statistics which, without the context of more information, provide a misleading picture of a trend. Indeed, Dave Cortese and his supporters used this tactic heavily as they attempted to prove that crime in San Jose was on the rise. However, Disgusted’s suggestion that the facts here are a matter of which authority you choose to believe — that suggests that all statistics and their accompanying narratives are equally valid, regardless of the methodology by which they are obtained.

    I believe in facts — crime rates are falling, maybe they’re rising, maybe there’s something nuanced occurring where crime rates for different crimes are rising or falling at different rates. But those facts don’t change based on which source I listen to in order to learn about those facts. Something is true or it isn’t, and in the face of the most rigorous and objective sources reporting the crime rate as fallen, those who have pushed the notion so aggressively that crime rates have risen need to have the courage to admit they were factually wrong.

    • Classic…..blame Cortese…..Carthagus you need to ask a real cop, that actually works the streets of San Jose, not an administrator afraid to tell the sheep (you), the truth for fear of getting fired by Reed/Lickhardo what crimes are occurring….The election is over and crime is getting worse. If you were smart, you should blame Jim Unland and the evil SJPOA (cops) or better yet Jim Harbaugh…..hahahahaha…..How many recruits are going to start the new academy for the 10th largest city in the USA???? 60? 45? 30? 15?…….Roll On!!!!!

  3. Imbeciles, line yourselves up to celebrate:

    — that San Jose had 3500 more major crimes committed last year than it did ten years ago (ten more victims every day)
    — that as bad as it was last year, the year before was even worse (when it had 3830 more major crimes… add one additional victim almost every day)
    — it takes the police 20% longer to get to the scene of a Priority 1 call (imminent danger to life or property) than it did is 2003, and two and one-half times as long to get to a Priority 2 (injury or property damage). Priority 3 callers, one would presume, are left with ringing in their ears.
    — the murder rate bested the ten year average by 18%
    — since 1989, San Jose’s population has grown by about 213,000 (not counting tens of thousands of illegals), adding what amounts to the population of San Bernardino (which has 350 cops on its force), but San Jose has fewer cops today than it did twenty-five years ago.

    Now where is it that Chief What’s-his-nombre is handing out party favors?

  4. No mention of the FACT that SJPD implemented a new report writing software system which captures crime data and statistics according to the strict guidelines of the UCR ( uniform crime reporting) standard used by the FBI… the system ONLY captures data on crime where an Officer actually WRITES (TYPES) a General Offense (GO) report which amounts to a fraction of crimes that occur (since some crimes go unreported for any number of reasons).

    Let’s see a comparisson of data from consecutive years or several consecutive years taken exclusively from the new report writing system before the lying politicians and the lacky reporters who tout them can legitimately say crime is down.

    Remember we heard this claim before from the police chief, politicians and the “reporters” who claimed “Gang Crime” was down in San Jose. Then everyone had to backtrack when the Chief inserted the verbal asterisk to let everyone know that the Criteria by which crimes fell in to the “GANG” column were changed and made more restrictive in the year they where alleged to have decreased when compared to the more liberal definitions of the previous year.

  5. Spin the stats anyway you want. Crime is up and number of officers is down. And this trend will continue under the next city council.

  6. > Imbeciles, . . .

    > Let’s see a comparisson of data . . . before the lying politicians and the lacky reporters who tout them can legitimately say crime is down.

    > Spin the stats anyway you want.

    Well, I guess I should feel somewhat heartened by the fact that members of the public seem to recognize that government statistics may be misleading, distorted, incomplete, cooked, or otherwise lead the public to wrong conclusions.

    But I wonder how many of these skeptical members of the public are otherwise fans of “big government” so long as their favorite spinner, distorter, or statistical cook is in charge.

  7. After several years of hearing from Chuck Reed, Sam Liccardo, and Chief Lapdog about how crime keeps falling, I couldn’t help but dig deeper into the statistical good news. Using information from City-Data.com and the city’s own website, I was able to quickly construct a snapshot of reported crimes beginning with the year Chuck Reed took office as a councilman.

    — The annual murder rate for the fourteen year period was 29. The latest statistics (for 2013) reveal a murder rate 32% higher than that average (the rate for 2012 was a whopping 64% above that average).

    — The annual robbery rate (personal property taken by force/fear — an extremely perilous and unnerving experience) was 951. The 2013 total was 15% higher than that average (the 2012 rate was 27% higher).

    — Because robbery is a crime that is directly impacted by staffing (marked cars patrolling) and proactive policing (investigative stops of vehicles and persons), I looked at the robbery rate before and after Reed took office as mayor (I omitted 2007, his first year as mayor, as his policies had yet to have an effect). Using that same fourteen year average (951), the robbery rate for the six years prior to 2007 was 11% BELOW average, while the robbery rate for the six years after he took over as mayor was 14.3% HIGHER than average.

    — In the first two years Chuck Reed served as a councilman there were 677 and 712 robberies, respectively. In his last two years (as mayor) there have been 1208 and 1095, respectively. That translates to an additional 914 human beings who’ve been personally victimized over the last two years. I wonder how much they’re celebrating the good news about crime?

    — In the first two years Chuck Reed served as a councilman there were 2670 and 2939 burglaries reported, respectively. In his last two years (as mayor) there has been 5173 (a 94% increase) and 5206 (a 77% increase), respectively. That translates to an additional 3770 residents who’ve had the sanctity of their homes or businesses violated.

    — In the first two years Chuck Reed served as a councilman there were 2615 and 3093 auto thefts reported, respectively. In his last two years (as mayor) there have been 8759 (three times as many) and 7926 (more than double), respectively. That translates to an additional 10,977 residents who’ve had their cars stolen over the last two years, an extra 15 victims every single day (which has probably put more citizens in bike lanes than all of Liccardo’s bloviating).

    I didn’t even bother to look at gang statistics, for what’s the use of trying to get an accurate picture of public safety when the statistics are known to have been falsified by the police chief — the official whose sworn duty is to protect us? Politics and personal ambition are no excuse: the man is a disgrace to the uniform.

    Our elected leaders can affect crime statistics through their actions and policies, but only someone as dishonest as a Reed or Liccardo would dare suggest that every crime stat is a reflection of the political leadership (or even police work). But one thing I can suggest is that the people of this city are owed the truth — about the safety of their children, their homes, their possessions, their own lives. They’ve not been getting it from city hall and they’re certainly not getting it from the news media. San Jose is nowhere near as safe as it once was, and there is absolutely no reason to believe, given its current course, that it won’t continue to get worse.

    • Let me rush to Chuck Reed’s defense.

      Actually, I’m not going to defend him since I have no clue as to how big or small is his contribution to the problem.

      I will simply point out that no matter what his involvement in the increase in crime, HE HAD A LOT OF HELP!!!

      Chuck Reed, for example, was NOT the mayor of Detroit, and Detroit is a criminal wasteland.

      I strongly suspect that a big part of the increase in crime across America is due to the unconscionable, immoral, and criminal actions taken and not taken by our political leaders to NOT control our borders and allow access to our communities by every desperate, predatory, forager, grifter, and criminal parasite on the globe.

      I enjoy a good thrashing of members of the political class as well as the next man.

      But, in order to understand and address the real causes for real problems, I think the best place to begin is to look at the top of the chain of command and identify the biggest potentate who chose NOT to deal with the problem.

      Oh Bah Mah!

      • I don’t think any single politician is to blame. It’s a sign of the times. I was born and grew up in San Jose. I could leave my bike on the front lawn with no worries. Wouldn’t think of it now. In the 1970s and most of the 1980s I don’t remember seeing a single homeless person, outside of a few “hobos” downtown. I’d visit cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and homeless guys walking around eating out of trash cans was a strange sight. Now, someone is on every corner with a sign asking for help, and there was a whole town inside a city of homeless on the creek banks of San Jose. I’ll bet Morgan Hill had no beggars in the 1970s, now I see them on street corners. The persistence of petty crime is another related symptom of those social changes. It’s not that cops in the past were doing a much more fantastic job than they are now, or even that there were more of them. The character of the city has changed. More cops would help, but that’s ultimately fighting a losing battle. The biggest change I see causing this is that there is so much wealth disparity now. There used to be a thriving middle class. A finish carpenter in San Jose could afford a home and take care of his family. Now those construction jobs are held by low wage illegals. What’s left is a thriving upper class from the tech industry, a significant working/services class receiving government handouts, and a dwindling middle class that can afford to live in a neighborhood worth living in. Many of them have taken their profits and left. The best thing we could do is to create an environment that attracts decent middle class people and where class mobility is the norm, not the exception. I’m not sure how we got here, but it’s broader trend and will take a lot more than the mayor of San Jose to turn it around.

        • Well said. We have fallen asleep at the wheel, and have let the madmen drive our country.

      • Obama? WTF? Are you delusional? Do you really think all the drug addicts, metal thieves, mentally ill and homeless are illegals who got here in the last six years? Go talk to a few, you’ll find most speak passable English because they were born here.

    • I Googled several ways, but could not find a list of SJPD chiefs since 2000. However, my sense/recollection is that they have all been a bunch of brown nosed ass kissers of the mayor and city council, and have not served either the people of SJ or the rank and file of the SJPD very well.

      • It’s the nature of the beast. A “Chief” in San Jose is just another Department head who serves at the pleasure of the Council.

        The Mayor, Council and City Manager will stick together and spew the party line that Deparment Heads have autonomy to run their shops as they see fit. Anyone who beleives this ESPECIALLY NOW after 8 years of Reed is a fool. I don’t think it goes back to 2000. We had some solid individuals mixed in with a few goats

  8. What I’d like to see is a breakdown of crime by council districts. My sense is that violent crime and property crime are up in downtown SJ, but Sam doesn’t want anyone to know. McEnery probably doesn’t either. And the Merc, Metro/SJI and the SJDA are probably complicit in keeping the lid on that news. No-one wants to tell it like it is: criminals from the Eastside and Oaktown coming to party and cause trouble in DTSJ.

  9. Come on! Nonsense! The POA says that they are drowning in crime calls, IA says they don’t investigate Officer misconduct by 83%, 2/3 rds of your department are Sgt. and above and work indoors on Federal Grant units. Here is how you get less crime. No one can reach Cops at City Hall for 40% of their complaints, Cops don’t respond to almost all non violent crime and kiss them off with “It’s an insurance claim problem, call em'”. Rapes are reduced to simple assaults, robberies to petty theft and homicides to suicides or exonerated cop killings that don’t count. Reduce, Reduce, Reduce like the FBI does and then you have a lower crime rate. Want to reduce CRIME, PATROL<PATROL<PATROL.

  10. Crime is high and thats with alot that arent being reported to the public. Sjpd under staffed and YET the requirements for one to get into the academy is still the same.i would think with crime rates climing high they will start hirring more and being a bit less stricked on acadamy so that we can get more cops out on streets