A police chase ended with San Jose police arresting several teens in a stolen vehicle on Friday marking it as the third incident involving suspects under 16 in 24 hours.
San Jose police and other South Bay leaders are frustrated with the spike in juvenile crimes and the San Jose police chief concedes that part of the problem is that juveniles face limited consequences for crimes like these.
The latest of these crimes occurred on Friday morning, police caught four juveniles in East San Jose in a stolen truck and the night before, on Thursday, armed officers arrested a group of car thieves, all under the age of 16, in the Evergreen neighborhood.
Officers state that dealing with juveniles is tricky as they struggle to balance the need to help children with the need to punish criminals.
Today, at a gathering of social service agencies geared toward children’s needs, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, who has worked with the juvenile crime system, said he’s concerned about the recent spike but ensured that harsher punishments will not work.
“I don’t happen to believe that the way to deal with trauma among youth is to lock them up and throw away the key,” Cortese said. “We need to be thinking about ‘where did these children start? Where were they when they were two, three years old? What were they exposed to?”
Rhoda Blankenship, the child adolescent director for the Public Health Department, agrees. She claims that the goal is to rebuild resilience in the community and the way to do that is to build resilience in families.
“One example would be our ‘Peace Partnership’ on the east side of San Jose,” Blankenship said.
Cortese says he believes the upward trend involving youth is also because the city of San Jose does not have enough officers to respond to so many crimes.
“Nobody comes out,” he said. “I think even young perpetrators know that. Do a crime, nobody is going to show up. Nobody is going to follow up and there’s no detectives to solve the crime.”
However, San Jose police ensure that there are more cops on the street now than ever and they vow to respond to calls like these immediately.
Cortese says the county will be addressing the situation in upcoming meetings including possible residential programs for violent youth.