The San Jose Police Department's staffing issues are now taking a toll on its sexual assault investigation unit.
Officers in the unit said they are getting overwhelmed by a rise in crimes, including rape cases, and point to cuts in staffing and time needed to conduct an investigation as part of the reason for the increased workload.
An officer who worked with the sexual assault unit and who did not want to be identified said the issue is reaching a breaking point.
"Sexual assault detectives carry between 45 to 60 cases. They are overwhelmed with their cases," the officer said. "And they're afraid that the suspects may offend again."
Some officers said they are worried victims will not get the justice they deserve.
“It’s a new reality that we actually are facing as a police department right now,” San Jose police spokesman Albert Morales said, “because all our detective bureaus are not immune to the idea of large caseloads.”
Department of Justice figures show San Jose had 268 forcible rape cases in 2013. The number jumped to 301 actual rapes by force last year. Officers tell NBC Bay Area the trend is still going up this year.
The officer who agreed to speak with NBC Bay Area anonymously said SJPD's sexual assault unit lost three investigators in the past few years. Investigators also now have to work two shifts each month as patrol officers.
The officers who follow up on convicted sex offenders on the Megan's Law list are having trouble keeping up with home checks and its undercover operations, the officer added.
"The longer the case goes, the longer that person, that suspect is still out there," the officer said.