In the wake of rising violence and a climbing homicide rate, the San Jose police on Friday announced a new three-phase "violent crime reduction plan" to ramp up this summer, and the biggest highlight is that the department is reintroducing its gang suppression unit.
As of Friday morning, San Jose had 25 homicides in 2013, the most recent was a 16-year-old boy - Manuel Urzoua - who was beaten and shot in East San Jose on Wednesday, and who died Thursday afternoon. Police say this is the eighth-gang related homicide of the year.
Some of the key points of the new plan include:
- Deploying 20 two-officer patrol gang suppression cars a week, as well as limited personnel from our Special Operations Division, MERGE (SWAT) Unit and METRO Unit.
- Additional detectives from the gang investigations unit will also be deployed to supplement the patrol gang suppression Cars. All of these officers will be deployed on an overtime basis in addition to their normal work schedules. The overall impact will be an additional 40 to 45 officers being deployed throughout the week and during peak hours.
- In July, 12 additional two-officer overtime patrol gang Suppression sars will be deployed weekly, bringing the total to 32 cars or 64 officers. The work days and hourly work schedule of the MERGE Unit officers will be modified to provide a greater presence, especially on weekends and during peak hours. The METRO Unit officers work hours will be adjusted to have more visible presence during the evening hours.
- In August, police will create the once-defunct gang suppression unit, which will be staffed with two teams, each team being supervised by a sergeant. These gang officers will be deployed during peak hours seven days a week, with overlap days occurring on Saturdays. The primary focus of this unit will be to conduct high visibility suppression and interdiction of criminal street gang activity.
- Traffic enforcement officers will now be assigned to work in a patrol beat one week out of the month.
The purpose of all this, police said, is so that ongoing gang and crime intelligence can be shared better, there are more uniformed police officers out on the streets, that the mayor's gang prevention task force is better looped into what's going on, and that there is a "data-driven, strategic deployment plan that emphasizes a focus on hot spot areas and known gang neighborhoods."
In a statement, police said these scheduling changes allow the department to minimize its use of overtime while maximizing uniformed presence in high-crime areas during peak times.
In light of that, police said all non-mandatory Special Operations Division training has been temporarily suspended.
In a statement, police said that this plan was the result of several strategic internal meetings convened by Acting Chief of Police Larry Esquivel due to a shared concern with the number of recent violent incidents in San Jose.