San Jose says it’s rolling out a new strategy to address the growing concern that Asian communities are being increasingly targeted by criminals.
Police officers are making new rounds here in the shopping complex where Shang Cafe gets loyal customers, but also recent phone threats laced with racial insults.
“Angry, angry, very angry, but during that time we don’t know what to do,” said Shang Cafe Manager Yue Zhang.
The community has historically been hesitant to call police because of a language barrier and cultural reluctance.
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“Police can be seen as a sign of trouble and we just want to get across that, across the board, ‘hey, we’re just here to build relationships,’” said SJPD Officer Eric Wang.
Now, bilingual officers are spreading out to address similar obstacles.
In the VietnamTown shopping center, Dr. Thang Tran expressed gratitude but said the recent crimes aren’t unique -- or new.
“Now the attention is on us but this is nothing new. You know what I mean?” said Tran. “I mean ladies having their purse snatched in mid daylight, down in LA, San Francisco, and here, it’s always been there.”
Officers say they know that attitude won’t be changed with just the occasional foot patrols.
“I think this is something that we have to do consistently and get the message out in different formats, social media, through the media, and a website,” said Tran.
Still, an immigrant assistance group, Society of Heart’s Delight, that first approached police, call it a big first step.
“They understand now that police really take hate speeches and hate crimes seriously,” said the group’s founder Michelle Zhang.
Police say that’s the key because it’s a big city with lots of communities, too many to cover just with foot patrols. So getting members to actually report incidents will be the true indicator the new program works.