Crime Spree in San Jose -- Perception or Reality?

Some crime is up in San Jose, but the mayor wants residents to remain calm.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Jose has a reputation as one of America's safer big cities. But tell that to the residents spooked about last Friday's six-scene, 90-minute crime spree, or the spate of eight homicides in 11 days last summer.

    Last week, residents were spooked when Jonathan Wilbanks, 26, robbed a pizza parlor and allegedly killed a man as he tried to steal his car.

    The statistics still say San Jose is safe, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "Despite a 23 percent increase in major violent crimes during the first half of 2012, and a year-to-date homicide total of 42 - one short of a 15-year high - the per-capita crime rate is still low for a city of 980,000 people," the newspaper reported.

    Officials in the office of Mayor Chuck Reed also point to numbers and say that the city is much safer that it was, say, two decades ago, according to the newspaper.

    "Our strategy to fight this perception [of a crime spike] is to offer facts," Reed said.

    One group not telling everyone to remain calm is the police officers' union. San Jose is down nearly 300 cops from three years ago, to 1,050. And police now spend more time responding to 911 calls than they do preventing crime.

    "It's the most bizarre city in the world when it comes to downplaying the crime rate," a police union official told the newspaper. "It's like this city just doesn't want to acknowledge there's violence and it's on the increase here."