SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Residents of San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood crowded into a jam-packed town hall meeting Thursday night, voicing their rising concerns, frustrations and anxiety over a surge in local crime.
Recently, postings on Willow Glen’s Next Door social media community have revealed a startling number for crimes ranging from break-ins, assaults and robberies.
A group of juveniles have been linked to as many as 95 crimes. San Jose police chief Eddie Garcia said he was forming a burglary suppression unit to help remove burglary crews from the streets.
“What am I to expect when I call the police for suspicious activity?” local resident Scott Connelly questioned Garcia. “I think the consensus among both the residents and the folks that are up to no good is that police are going to get there when they get there if it’s not a life threatening emergency.”
Garcia replied that police response is impacted by other calls.
“We prioritize every call,” Garcia told the residents. “On the average – there’s some days like Sunday morning at 6 – you’re going to get a cop there pretty quickly on pretty much anything but when it’s busy nights, we average about 20 minutes to get to non-priority calls. That’s where we’re at around now.”
While there are currently more officers on the force than two years ago, the staffing levels are the same as they were in the late 80s. They have about 500 patrol officers working across three shifts, covering 180 square miles of the city.
“We are probably the least staffed major police department in the country, but we are still one of the safest largest cities in the United States,” Garcia told the residents. “Your officers are working hard for this city and for you.”
Councilmember Dev Davis hosted the meeting. She’s already voted for an increase police budget of $408 million and has requested more patrols.
“I am doing everything that is in my power to do,” she told the residents. “This is my city and it’s my neighborhood too.”