South Bay News

Public pressure mounting on San Jose police chief

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Safeway on Story Road in San Jose

"The citizens out here are looking for them to come up with a solution and people don't want to panic. People want to know and have confidence in the city leaders," San Jose resident Michelle Bertolone told ABC7 News Wednesday. Residents are asking for help following a murder in a grocery store Tuesday night. It was the city's seventh killing in just eight days.

The pressure is mounting on San Jose's police chief to ask for outside help to deal with the city's unprecedented surge in violence. There have been 32 homicides in San Jose so far this year compared to 27 at this same time a year ago. Last year, 2011 ended with a total of 39 homicides. Even the police chief is referring to the last several days as a "bloody week" in San Jose and the city is on a pace to have more homicides this year than any time in the past 15 years.

Rudie Golart has shopped at one particular East San Jose Safeway for 52 years. The fatal stabbing that happened inside the store Tuesday night has her furious about the city's skyrocketing violence. "We're steady customers here. We shouldn't have to be shaking in our boots just to come and get groceries," she told ABC7 News. The anger there is undeniable and so too is the fear. "It could be your child or my child next. We need some help from city hall," Golart said.

San Jose's 32 homicides throughout the city this year equal five more than at this time last year and 12 more than all of 2010. Assembly member Nora Campos is urging the police chief to ask the CHP for help. It's a tactic that has been used over the years in Oakland, Richmond, and East Palo Alto. Many people say making the request is a no brainer.

"They're helping other cities and we need it too. We can't be too proud," Ron Golart said.

"Let's do it. Let's try it. And, that'll give them 30 days to figure out what else can be done," Bertolone said.

San Jose is in the process of recruiting new officers but right now, the Police Officers Association says its 1,055 sworn officers are simply not enough to serve a city of nearly 1 million people. "We're one of the lowest staffed major cities in the United States of America and we're now seeing the resulting crime wave," said POA Vice President John Robb.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Chris Moore said he will have to talk with city leaders and the CHP commissioner before making any request for outside assistance. "It has been done in other cities in the Bay Area on an as-needed basis. I'm not opposed to the idea, but I don't think we're at that point just yet," he said.

Rudie Golart has just one question for the chief. If not now, when? "And I think this city is wrong if they do not accept the CHP for their help. We need all the help we can get," she said. The pressure from the public is not being ignored. The police department says Chief Moore is expected to talk to city leaders and will be providing the media and residents of San Jose an update on Friday.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
san jose, crime, CHP, south bay news, karina rusk
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