San Jose Councilmember Ash Kalra wants the San Jose Police Department to explain and update its gang crime statistics.
The District 2 councilmember submitted a request to the Rules Committee today asking the item be put on the city council’s agenda before the year's end.
Kalra wants the council to have SJPD provide “an update on current gang crime statistics to include the effect of any policy changes as to deployment as well as data collection.” He also requested a year-end report on crime throughout the city.
It comes after an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit report exposed SJPD was playing a numbers game with gang crime statistics.
SJPD was claiming a 43 percent drop in gang homicides from last year, but The Investigative Unit uncovered the police department had started using stricter criteria to define a gang homicide in 2013, and then compared those numbers to last year’s, but the department did not tell the public when it reported that dramatic drop.
Formerly, individual detectives assigned to homicide cases would subjectively determine if a case was gang-related based on evidence and witness statements.
The new criteria, according to SJPD, means a homicide is gang-related only if police have evidence to show the motivation was to benefit a gang agenda. Meaning, just because a gang member is involved, does not mean the homicide will be classified as gang-related. SJPD says this will make the criteria more in line with the penal code.
“Given the change in definition of how some incidents are categorized as gang crimes, there is a level of uncertainty of the reliability of using the data by way of comparison to past years,” Kalra wrote in his request.
“Allowing the police department to explain the data as well as the mechanisms used to collect it before the Council, rather than through a mix of media reports, will, in my belief, be beneficial to the Council and public.”
Do you have a tip for the Investigative Unit? Email us: TheUnit@nbcbayarea.com