Downtown San Jose Merchants Hire Off-Duty Officers to Deter Crime

By Damian Trujillo
|  Friday, Dec 20, 2013  |  Updated 7:05 PM PDT
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Downtown San Jose merchants are hiring off-duty officers to deter crime in the area, a move store owners said is paying off. Damian Trujillo reports.

Downtown San Jose merchants are hiring off-duty officers to deter crime in the area, a move store owners said is paying off. Damian Trujillo reports.

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Downtown San Jose merchants are hiring off-duty officers to deter crime in the area, a move store owners said is paying off.

While crime still exists in the area, store owners said it's not the same as it was six months ago.

"There were some dangerous crimes," said Greg Woock, CEO of Pinger, an app developer based on South Second Street. "Some gang elements that were involved."

Woock previously considered uprooting his company because of the violence.

"We thought about not renewing the lease," he said. "I think a lot of people said, 'do we want to be here?' We can't risk the employee safety being downtown."

The threat came at a time when the city was trying to lure more merchants downtown with incentives. Existing business owners met with city leaders, and one of the results turned into hiring off-duty police to patrol the area.

Downtown merchants now pay for the officers to work the local streets, and even stop in at various stores and restaurants to check in.

While crime isn't completely gone, business owners said things are getting better.

"There is a lot of weird things happening here downtown, and for them to be here, there will be better safety to be here now," said Nestor Zubizarrete of the City Fish Restaurant.

The turnaround was enough for Woock to renew his lease.

"Things as of late have been good," he said.

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