SAN JOSE (KCBS) – When a job is big but resources are shrinking, it’s all about prioritizing – and that’s something the police chief of the Bay Area’s largest city knows all too well.
Think of it like a triage situation, where the most severely in need of care are seen and treated first; That’s essentially how San Jose is fighting crime.
The police department has about 400 fewer officers on the streets these days compared to its peak several years ago, when some 1,400 men and women wore the uniform.
“Like every other department, when you cut your budget you have to identify what are your core services and what is the most important to you. And our department always has focused on our violent crimes,” explained SJPD Chief Chris Moore.
Indeed, violent crime is prevalent in San Jose, with 2012 shaping up to be one of the deadliest in recent history. The city has already seen more than 40 homicides in early November.
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“Quality of life” crimes are subject to more selective policing, which often translates into responding to problems instead of preventing them. Case in point: street-level prostitution.
“When we did some consolidations of units, it fell by the wayside,” he acknowledged. “It’s not that we’re not doing any of it, it’s just that we don’t have the attention and resources to devote to it that we did before.”
“So we ended up doing it on a sort of hit or miss basis as opposed to consistent enforcement,” he continued. “We found out very quickly that that message got out there. Prostitutes would come down to San Jose from other parts of the Bay Area because they realized we weren’t going to be able to enforce it. And it got really bad.”
Roughly two months ago, Chief Moore announced his intention to retire, in early 2013.
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