The San Jose Police Department wants to avoid the addition of any more white crosses at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.
Each grim adornment on the church’s front lawn represents a local homicide victim who died in 2015.
The department has earmarked five areas of San Jose as so-called “gang zones” – hot spots where it plans to focus its resources. The parish abuts one such zone. But the San Jose police asked NBC Bay Area not to be specific with where the neighborhoods are for strategic reasons.
“Some of the citizens in those areas are in fear for their safety and their kids’ safety and quite rightfully so,” San Jose police spokesperson Albert Morales told NBC Bay Area.
The new strategy, which took effect during the weekend, comes in the wake of rising gang violence over the past six weeks, Morales said. The department’s elite units, including Metro and SWAT teams, plan to jump in patrol cars to saturate San Jose’s gang zones.
“We’ve switched some of their hours, so they’re coming in later and staying later into the evening, which is when we’re seeing the violence increasing,” Morales said.
San Jose resident Claudia Barragan believes it is crucial for children to feel safe in their community and is a fan of the new plan.
Her son Mark Reyes said: "Everything has to be safe so we can be safe in the park and everywhere."
Meanwhile, Morales noted that the gang zones are "mobile" and the police department's strategy can be modified to address gang violence regardless of where in San Jose it crops up.
“The idea is to saturate those areas [with] highly visible patrols, proactive patrols,” Morales said.