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San Jose May Get CHP Assistance As Crime Wave Continues

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A San Jose Police patrol car. (CBS)

A San Jose Police patrol car. (CBS)

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SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A state assemblywoman representing the San Jose area said violence is becoming “out of control” in a letter to the city’s chief of police Tuesday on the heels of the city’s 30th homicide of the year.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, who served on the San Jose City Council for nearly a decade until assuming state office in 2010, sent an open letter to police Chief Chris Moore stating it appears violence is “spiraling out of control in San Jose as shootings have become commonplace in neighborhoods throughout the city.”

The 30th homicide was marked Tuesday after an autopsy on the body of a man found Saturday morning at Northwood Park determined the death to be criminal, according to San Jose police.

The 38-year-old victim was found by a passerby at the park on Guildhall Drive around 6 a.m. Saturday.

The man’s death marks seven killings since the beginning of August.

At this time last year, there had been 27 homicides, San Jose police Officer Jose Garcia said. Thirty-nine people were murdered altogether in 2011.

Garcia said this year’s rate is comparable to last year’s, but that “It’s concerning to us. We’d like to see no homicides.”

In previous years, total killings reached only 20 in 2010 and 28 in 2009, according to police records.

Campos outlined in her letter a proposal to collaborate with the California Highway Patrol after city leadership has repeatedly cited budget cuts affecting Police Department resources.

She wrote the collaboration would “put more officers on the ground in order to prevent this crime wave from becoming the norm within our great city.”

Campos’ policy director Darryl Lucien called the assemblywoman’s letter “a first step.”

“We want the police chief to acknowledge that this is an issue,” Lucien said.

In her letter, Campos urged the police chief to take the missive to the mayor and city manager.

“We want to give the chief of police an opportunity to respond,” Lucien said.

Three of the slayings over the past few weeks are being investigated as possibly gang-related. Garcia said the Police Department works closely with the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force, which provides outreach to quell gang-related violence.

The past few weeks have been marked by particularly violent patches, such as Aug. 13.

Three people were killed in three separate incidents on that day, including a homeless woman who was stabbed by someone wielding a sword near West San Carlos Street and Meridian Avenue.

Earlier that day, around 4 p.m., Victor Mendoza, 21, was found suffering from a gunshot wound in the 2300 block of Denair Avenue. He died two days later at a hospital.

Also killed on Aug. 13 was 38-year-old Martin Chacon, who was found shot in his car on Charles Street near Oakland Road that afternoon.

Violence this past weekend continued through the beginning of the week with a murder on Monday.

On Monday evening, a 24-year-old man died at a hospital after being shot in the 1900 block of Poco Way around 6:40 p.m. Police believe that shooting was gang-related.

Over the weekend, a 52-year-old San Jose man was found dead in a parked car early Sunday morning in the 3000 block of Van Sansul Avenue.

Later Sunday night, a man in his 30s was critically injured in a shooting in the 1600 block of East San Antonio Street. Police said he remained hospitalized as of this morning.

A separate shooting on Saturday afternoon in the 200 block of San Jose Avenue injured a 15-year-old boy.

San Jose saw a spike in violence in 1997, when 43 murders occurred. The city’s population at that time was 840,529, compared to 971,372 early this year, according to city planning and police figures.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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