Mayor Reed is Wrong about Murder Rate

Editor’s Note: Jim Unland is a sergeant in the San Jose Police Department and vice president of the Police Officers Association. He wrote this column for San Jose Inside.

Last week the nationally renowned criminologist Chuck Reed said, “There’s nobody that seems to think that there’s a direct connection between the number of officers and the number of homicides.” Another tactic he uses to dismiss the police staffing shortages and the rise in homicides in our city is when asked about the fact that we are about to double the number of homicides we had in all of 2010, he says that last year we had an abnormally low number of homicides (20 homicides). Really? The fact is that since 1998 the city homicide rate has always been in the twenties with the exception of two years.  In 2007 there were 33 homicides and in 2008 there were 31 homicides.

This weekend, the city suffered its 18th gang-related homicide for the year. That is two less than the total number of homicides in all of last year. This murder brings us to a total of 39 homicides for the year. 

Mayor Reed has said that gang homicides can be prevented. A few months ago he told a reporter, “We know that the one area where we can have an impact on homicides is in the gang homicides area.” Mayor Reed, we had five gang-related homicides all of last year.  This year we are already at 18. You said that we can impact this type of homicide.  When do you intend to start doing that? Under your watch our department dismantled the Violent Crimes Enforcement Team (VCET). It was an odd strategy to reduce gang violence.  How has it worked out so far? 

Chuck Reed would rather not talk about the rising violence in our city. It doesn’t affect him. It is very safe up on the 18th floor of City Hall. Maybe if the citizens of San Jose all had their own personal police officer to guard them, they would feel safe too. Every time he says that the number of officers doesn’t matter with regards to the homicide rate, he demonstrates his ignorance as to how the San Jose PD has kept its citizens safe for so many years.

What the mayor doesn’t understand is that the San Jose PD model has always worked because, historically, our officers have been pro-active. When the department had 1,409 officers, it was still one of the lowest staffed departments in the nation per capita. However, at 1,409, we had enough officers to do good, pro-active police work. Officers would self-initiate activity because they had the time to do so.

Due to layoffs, retirements, resignations and having no academies for several years, we are now down to 1,094 officers. We no longer have the time or resources to do that type of police work. Out of sheer necessity, we have become a reactive police force and we all see the result is the rise in violence. This is not some gut feeling of mine. Let me share with you two disturbing trends that demonstrate our declining pro-active/self-initiated police work.

The first is the number of confidential informants we have signed up. Good cops have confidential informants. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent and solve crimes. Officers who do this kind of work register the informants with the department. The problem is that this kind of work is very time intensive. The following are year-to-date numbers of informants who have been signed up by San Jose officers. 

2006 – 113
2007 – 137
2008 – 117
2009 – 124
2010 – 102
2011 – 61

Another number that tells the story is the quantity of self-initiated arrests our officers make. Officers who make self-initiated arrests use our pre-processing facility before booking the suspect into the county jail. Let’s take a look at those numbers averaged by shift per day from last year to this year. I have adjusted the formula to get an apples to apples comparison due to the fact that this year is not over. 

2010
Day Shift — 4.3
Swing Shift — 7.2
Midnight Shift — 5.8

2011
Day Shift — 3.0
Swing Shift — 4.3
Midnight Shift — 3.1

Because our staffing numbers are down, our pro-active/self-initiated work is also down. When those types of arrests go down, crime and the violence associated with it goes up.

Officers know that their city leaders do not support or appreciate them. Staffing shortages have affected their safety and morale. Eventually there won’t be anyone left to do the job. Those who haven’t been laid off will leave for better job opportunities. And all that will be left to ensure the safety of those citizens still living and working in San Jose will be the echo of the mayor’s nonsensical analysis—“There’s nobody that seems to think that there’s a direct connection between the number of officers and the number of homicides.”

46 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing such a good summary of what is happening to the safety of all of our citizens of San Jose as well as our officers that risk there lives on a daily basis. This is the information that must get out to all the citizens. They need yo understand what their leaders are doing to destroy what was once a city to be proud of.

     

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  2. The author cites many complaints about the police situation but offers no solutions to solve them. The facts of the problem is that the entire city is in a money crisis.  If he does not realize that is the problem perhaps he should find another line of work.

    • Napper,  “wake up and pull your head out of the sand”.  The POA and other unions have made several offers and concession to the mayor only to dismissed.  The major wants and needs people like you to be uninformed and just vote yes like puppets.  Learn the facts, try going to council meeting when budget issues ore on the agenda.

      • You’re right about being informed.  Whatever did happen to the last offer?  Even when I did see in the press that there was one a while back, I never heard much detail and any counter offer (if there was one).
        It does seem like the POA is negotiating in public every time there’s a homicide or other crime.  At least they’re keeping potential criminals informed.  If they’re doing that they should advertise their reasonable offers as well or better.

        • There was NO counter offer-they said the figures we gave were not completely accurate and that there wasn’t enough time to research it-they want it to go to a ballot vote-it is their way ONLY and they do not want to bargain. We offered a 3 tier system that would save the city almost 500 MILLION dollars by going into another retirement system so the city wouldn’t have to pay for ours. Funny thing is-the council is in the same one we want to go in but I guess we are not good enough for it. The new plan the city wants would lower our take home pay by over 1/2-no one (and that is not an exaggeration) would be able to afford their homes and actually, would be hard pressed to even be able to afford an apartment in this city. I researched it and found I will be making slightly more than a server at IN and OUT Burger. Thanks for your question

    • Napper, just for starters why don’t we repay the General Fund that is owed by the SJRDA.  Why don’t we sell the stadium land (not to just to one bidder, Lew Wolff) for fair market value and use those proceeds to pay back the General Fund, reducing the deficit?  Oh wait the land has been transfered to a made up San Jose Diridon Development Authority.

      STOP WASTING TAX PAYER MONEY CHUCK.  That’s how you fix the problem.

    • Guess you didn’t know about the grant that Deb F DIDN’T apply for that would have helped bring back some of the laid off officers. So, before you give useless advice about finding another line of work, get all your facts so you don’t look like such an idiot.

    • I voted for the mayor and city council people under the premise that they are responsible for the direction and management of the city, not a union vice president.  And, the money crisis sadly was caused by those very city leaders themselves, not the unions.  A lie oft repeated does not become the truth no matter how many times Reed and Figone try to blame their fiscal mismanagement on anybody but themselves.

  3. What is the current murder rate? It seems different everywhere I look.  Do the two lives lost in the San Jose State parking garage factor into that total? Then there one or two that were the result from prior year beating but died this year.

    • Just anon,
        The city likes to pretend that San Jose State crimes don’t count toward the city’s total because the university has it’s own police department. It’s a way to keep the crime numbers artificially low.
        However, I think most people outside of City Hall would see through such blatant bullpucky. If a murder happens anywhere within San Jose city limits most reasonable people would included it in the city-wide total. But then, nobody’s ever accused the city administration of being reasonable.

    • good luck getting anything pro fire or police in the Merc-check it out-this is a FACT-the Merc has a desk IN city hall, directly across from the city manager’s office. They get their articles directly from her office! I personally know several people who have written letters/articles submitted for print into the Merc and they were never printed-instead the Merc printed a negative article. It is not unbiased information that you are getting or even both sides of the story. Best thing to do is talk directly to someone off-duty (has to be off duty because we are told we will get FIRED if we speak or answer questions from the public while ON duty)or read blogs here for the other side. Thanks Laura, for your support!

  4. It is so obvious that this mayor and his cronies are pulling out all their guns (no pun intended) to bring this police department and all unions down.  He has rejected every offer than the unions have proposed to lower pay, benefits and pensions. 

    Now he is planning a special ballot measure in March to ask citizens to make more cuts included attacking those who are already retired by taking away the COLA and increasing the medical benefits.  EVEN when he knows such attacks are illegal, forcing millions in tax payer money trying to defend this losing battle in court.

    My guess is Chuckie and Ded plan to bring this police department down to about 800 officers. 

    I also appreciate the fact that the Chief of Police has not even bothered to answer a few simple questions that were asked almost 30 days ago.  I hear he treats his officers the same way.  Don’t ask for questions if your not going to answer them.

    I wish any officers still hear to start looking else where for another job because you know another round of layoffs is coming.  Good luck in arbitration.  Appreciate all you do.  Better burn that sick time before it is taken away as well.

  5. Another statistic that should be revealed is the amount of calls for service that sit “pending” because no officers are available to respond.  The public needs to know this information. The reality is that when you need an officer, there may be no one available, or the officer is coming from the other end of the city.

    Mayor Reed is taking a machete to both active and retired Police Officers’ pensions, benefits and working conditions which will ultimately affect the hiring of officers in the future. It will take years to undo the damage already done to this once magnificant department.The POA has tried to negotiate in good faith only to be handed an already prepared offer in the form of a ballot measure.  The retirees, although unable to negotiate, attempted to offer an olive branch to ease the pain that retirees will suffer should the measure pass. The offer was rejected without a thought. Those who are giving and who have given are now no more that a shoulder shrug from the mayor and some council members. Will there be resolution?  Not without a fight, unfortunately.

    Joe Wicker

  6. Reed will brings the A’s here. Ever go to a game and see the not so nice side of Oakland that is around trying to look for easy targets, scalping, selling stolen good and drugs. With the A’s will come those who have in the past made money around the stadium. People are creatures of habit they will come. It will open the door as those criminals see San Jose as the land of oopurtunity. San Jose does not have a strong gang base to chase off rivals. Crime can go up violent crime can go up but police work can get worse as those who do the work are vilified by the mayor and his pawns. When most of the best leave because they can find better jobs in better cities. Reed will long be known as the Mayor who brought big city crime to the safest big city.  When you think about it Reed might be the biggest threat to your safety.

  7. Why do we need any police? If we used the Mayors logic, the police have no direct impact on the rate of crime in a city. If that is truly the case, why do we have even one police officer? This is absurd! We can see a direct correlation between officers on the street and all crimes, not just homicides.

    San Jose Police & Fire have typically done more with less, but we’ve reached the “tipping point” where the few cannot take up the slack of a job that requires many… or at least more. I just hope that the violence doesn’t continue against officers and the people of San Jose. It would truly be a shame to take in more “acceptable loss” in the form of homicides just to shove pension reforms down taxpayers throats.

    Yes, we need to fix the pension issue, which includes negotiation in good faith, but not screw anyone over in the meantime. 30 years of police/fire/city service costs more than just time; it cost families, kids, spouses, alcoholism, suicide, bad knees & backs and lost holidays.

    Full Disclosure: I was laid off from SJPD in June and will be hired back shortly, I live in San Jose in D6, I vote and pay taxes, and will do what I can to keep San Jose safe when I go back. I will also keep my second job part time so this June doesn’t suck like the last one did.

  8. Back in August Chief Moore told San Jose residents he dismissed the ICE agents because he stopped the gang murders. His decision looks even more foolish today. 

    p.s. Is Chief Moore ignoring SJI’s questions?

      • WTF? We are ALL being attacked by the city. We have taken pay cuts, brown outs, closed engine companies and can’t even get recruits into our academy. Let’s work together to survive! And since you are being such a jerk-where were you at the last city council meeting when we were all pleading for our futures? Eating donuts? City loves to get us to separate.

  9. This weekend, the city suffered its 18th gang-related homicide for the year.

    Low at the bright side.  This is 18 less lowlifes to deal with in the future.  Think of it as “evolution in action”.

    Yes, that phrase is from Oath of Fealty.

  10. I appreciate the authors post because he uses some numbers and fax to argue his case and advance the public policy discussion.

    I’ve been thinking lately about metrics and analytics and was wondering how we could really break down the SJ budget in a way that makes sense and then compare it to other communities analyzed in the same way.

    From the post above, I’m guessing that peak staffing was a few years back at 1409 and current staffing is 1094.  Doing a little math shows that the current level is 77.6% of the peak level.  That’s a clear metric, I think.

    But I think a heard something about the department converting some sworn positions into civilian ones, so there might be a few dozen positions that didn’t actually go away but morphed from being done by sworn officers.  There’s also been a bunch of election year gimmicks with the feds passing these 10,000 new cops type stuff where we get funded to add a 100 cops here or there but the money dries up after the election (2-3 years down the road) and the community has to pick up the full cost.  In a way, this does help quickly address a voter concern with crime (top 3 issue every election) but can push communities to unsustainable levels when the economy stops growing the tax base fast enough to support the rapid growth in base payroll once the federal funds run out.

    Anyway…I’m an optimistic cynic and like to dig into numbers whether they come from the Mayor, City Staff, Police Union, Police Chief, Mercury News or some think tank.  I think we’ve got problems, which the article points out (yes, I think there is a correlation between staffing levels and crime/arrests.)  There’s also linkages between the economy and crime.  Its worth taking a hard look at what the cuts are costing in terms of acceptable standards of policing. 

    I’ve seen performance based budgeting used in some situations in the past where there’s a menu of funding levels with a level or service attached to each (min. dept budget = min. acceptable output, mid-range budget = enhanced service output, high end budget=best service output).  I don’t think we use that here, but I’m getting the idea that their are certain strategic investments that might have exponential payoffs – maybe we can’t get back to 1409 under current set-up, but restoring enough funding to staff the violent crime task force could have a multiplier effect on suppressing some of the worst crimes.  I’d be willing to trade off something serious in terms of other city services for that if it was not just shell games.

    In terms of metrics, per capita numbers are one measure (how many street officers per 1000 population) might be one good measure.  Area is another factor as density has multiplier impact on crime as well (maybe).  I’m wondering how you’d factor that in.  Maybe figuring ratios for population, density and also seperately looking at the total area of the city and coming up with another metric for street officers per sq mile?

    Anyway, thanks for contributing to the discussion.  the more thoughtful dialogue and engagement the better chance we have of coming through these challenging times with a better outcome.

  11. Latest victim of Reed’s incompetence is the killing of the parcel taz.  A group has already hired a consultant and has pledges from enough neighborhood leaders to have 12 percent committed to opposing the tax.  With a normal expectation of 30 percent in opposition, Reed has already lost the parcel tax election as the opposition leaders have begun to prepare a Facebook page, and have asked individuals who have turned on Reed since last year to donate to the campaign.

    Draw a yellow outline over the plan.

    • We can all kinda see some of the frontline service cuts in terms of police, fire, libraries, etc…but the gut feeling is that the city is still bloated and full of non-productive administrators and managers who are sinking the ship.  Any additional revenue we allowed would be wasted by the same kind of incompetents that got us into this mess in the first place.

      I’m waiting for a real and radical reorganization and cuts at the city where “services” take priority over process and we can eliminate whole departments before I reinvest with additional revenue to bail them out (with the understanding that the revenue goes to real stuff like police coverage, library hours, roadway repair).

      BTW – despite all the talk, they still haven’t done crap about pensions and pension liabilities.  ‘nuff said.

  12. Seems to me that the Mayor is more than willing to gamble with EVERYONE elses safety. Hopefully the people here in San Jose will wake up and realize that it is time to start demanding accountablity from our elected officials( worthless as they may be) This mayor/City manager/council have done nothing less than lie,cheat ,& steal to & from the residents of San Jose.

  13. It’s a very simple cause and effect relationship. For example, it’s a Friday night and a police officer desires to make a good self-initiated arrest because he’s content with his employment, motivated, and wants to further his career by means of creating a solid hardworking reputation. So…. On this Friday night, the police officer sees a car occupied by two gangsters (yes, most police officers can see gangsters from a mile away) driving on the road, which looks as if they’re cruising to do nothing beneficial for society, only disruptive and frankly, criminal. So the police officer finds a reason to stop the car; maybe no front license plate? Who knows, as long as it’s a California Vehicle Code violation the US Supreme Court has ruled that pretext car stops are fully legal. So the police officer stops the car for not having a front license plate (yes, B.S. but investigative reason) and discovers that the driver is a gangster and the passenger is on CDC parole or searchable probation. Hmmm…the police officer decides that he’s going to search the car via his legal authority and recovers an illegally concealed knife, pair of brass knuckles, or even a stolen firearm in the center dash compartment (all penal code felonies). Now, both gangsters are arrested, jailed, and their car gets impounded. Being that they have now been arrested, neither one of those individuals are able to get into a gang fight later that Friday night (exactly, and I mean exactly, like the stabbing that turned into a homicide this past weekend) or do a burglary/robbery to feed their dope addiction or inflate their credibility within the gang.

    In synopsis, Mayor Reed, speak as you must, but at the end of the day it’s a simple cause and effect relationship…nothing more, nothing less. For those that have a more liberal perspective on law enforcement, take the same scenario but swap it out for a drunk driver and a police officer that stops him or her prior to getting into a horrific vehicle crash. And lastly, to those that read this and believe “that doesn’t happen;” I submit to you, your police department used to have this mentality…it was entrenched within recruits’ minds both in the academy and in the field training program. That mentality is now lost…. police officers now go out on teams that are 50% staffed and answer calls for service all night…no more self-initiated stops, no more stopping criminals before they commit the crimes. And to you paradoxical theorists, yes criminals exist even before they get arrested and convicted of a crime…. They just haven’t gotten caught yet ☺

  14. It is time to go on the offensive, The true citizens of San Jose who actually vote and the few who do their research need to know the real facts how this mayor and council turned down a nearly 500 Million dollar pension reform plan with out even studying the proposal.  This would have been the savings over just 5 years.  (See Protectsanjose.com).

    You need to keep these articles coming, people want the facts and not the BS the city is putting out.  We all know the Mercury News hates the PD as much as the mayor does so good luck with that news media.

    Those who care about public safety and all of the great hard working city employees need to step up and demand answers.  I emailed every council member about the facts.  Guess how many relies I got back, thats right (0) ZERO folks.  Time to demand accountability. Time to attend council meeting, write, call, email your district representative and demand the truth. 

    Thank you Jim and the POA, we know the real SJ CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH, they just want facts to make an educated decision.

    • I have written letters, e-mails, and called city council! Guess what, I got ZERO! How come there is no accountability in Government? The Chief of Police won’t even answer the questions posed on this web site as promised. I never understood how these incompetents keep getting re-elected. I ask this, “If anybody in the private sector performed the way these people did, would they still have jobs?”

  15. A flannel shirted petiion gatherer in downtown San Jose is using threats to harass people into signing the pot club petition.  He is easily identified as a man in his mid forties, flannel shirted fellow who operates in the downtown area.  He has been known to bully people eating lunch outside at various restaurants.  PCI CONSULTANTS is paying him and refuses to deal with him.

    Contact PCI and challenge their right to conduct business this way.

  16. Well welcome to the party.  It is about time the POA comes out and says something.  YES, yes and yes.  I can’t agree more about the lack of pro-activity and the apparent fact that the City leaders don’t appreciate or support these officers. 

    It is great to hear the POA inform the citizens on the ineptness of Mayor Reed and the City Council (not to mention Chief Figone).  However, the POA represents the police officers.  They should be pounding their fist demanding more be done about officer safety.  There is only a small blurb at the very end at about officer safety.  I will say it loud and I will say it clear because the POA isn’t.  The safety of our officers are in jeopardy.  It is a matter of time before one of them gets seriously hurt because this Mayor is too busy trying to get a baseball stadium built. 

    Thank you for the article.  I hope it is one of many more to come.  Now I would like other city stakeholders to come to the party as well.

    • Great article.

      And Mr. Mayor, it’s inconceivable that you are even thinking about a baseball stadium at this time.  Please get your head out of the sand and rearrange your priorities. Safety for our city must be number one on the list.

  17. Council Constant knows as does Mayor Reed, Chief Moore, the city manager and all the council members, we at selected units of the PD at were notified in advance of a controversial votes by the city council ahead of time so we could be ready for protesters.

    We knew in advance what the council was going to vote!  However, the council, had to allow public comments before they announced their vote.  This is how this council works.  They could care less how the unions propose cuts because they have already made up their minds.

    It is time to call all of them out!

  18. Good job Jim.  My question is Why nothing from the PRES? Could it be he is a LT?  Maybe you should take his job.  Your the only one speaking up for the guys.

  19. Thank you for the post.  I wonder if Mr. Unland be willing to answer selected questions from SJI participants?  I have concerns with the lack of real information about Union negotiations and the politics in play while real people are dying.

    • I bet he will and I’m sure he is reading all the comments.  Contact him at the San Jose Peace Officers Association unlike the Chief of Police.

    • Helen,

      Truth be told, I do not regularly follow all the blogs.  Someone told me that you had questions of me.  You can email me at [email protected] and if you think any of my answers are of merit, feel free to repost them here.  Thanks

    • You bring up a great point Helen. At no fault to your own you are not educated about Union Negotiations. It is San Jose Police Officer’s Associations (POA) FAULT. We have not told the public exactly what is exactly going on and I am mind boggled about that.  To get the full 90% retirement, officer’s have to work 30 years.  Only if you work the full 30 years can you get 90%. Most officer’s retire with 25-27 yrs on. Hardly anyone work 30 years, the bodies can’t take it. Currently, WE PAY approx. 17% of our paycheck towards our total retirement.  We were recently up to 21%.  Don’t you think it would be wise to let the public know this?  I do. It should be the POA’s job to educate every citizen in San Jose.  Or, Helen, do you think one billboard on the east side of San Jose saying “who will protect you” is good enough? San Jose Officer’s are understanding in regards to pay decreases. Do we like them, “no”. But we agreed to it.  In regards to our pensions, all we are asking for is to keep what we were promised. What we and the city legally agreed to in a contract.  We are willing to change future pensions for newer officer’s but we have legal standing behind us in that the mayor can not arbitrarily threaten to change our pensions in a ballot measure. The mayor has nothing to lose by bringing a ballot measure forward except “tax payers money.” Remember the mayor is a lawyer by trade.  The end of his term is coming up, not soon enough, and he needs to think of his future. The A’s Stadium will need a property lawyer or some type of representation. Who do you think might be interested in that job? The mayor will leave San Jose in chaos not carrying of the citizens or its public employees.  And one last thing.  As a citizen of San Jose, how do you feel about the mayor selling off city land at a rock bottom price? During this “fiscal crisis” the mayor is selling prime land for a baseball Stadium at a below market price. Does that make sense? We are talking about millions of dollars lost. Is that the Police Departments fault?  Is that our pensions fault? It’s the mayors fault. Ego and greed (reed) are hurting this city.  Did you know that unions (one being San Jose Pd) just made an offer to the city that would help save millions of dollars in regards to the pensions. Switching over to Cal Pers, a state retirement system. The mayor said, “no.” Why? Because he would lose control of a major bargaining chip with the unions. Actuaries using the city’s budget numbers, show the plan will work and save the city millions of dollars. The mayor is the problem, not just the cost of pensions and the budget.

  20. There isn’t a lot of meaningful public artwork in San Jose. But there’s a statue out in a park in Almaden that provides a poignant exception. It depicts a police officer and a young boy sitting together on a park bench. The boy has donned the policeman’s cap. This statue is a tribute to SJPD officer Jeffrey Fontana who was gunned down on October 28, 2001, exactly 10 years ago today. He was only 24 years old.
    Jeff Fontana was the last San Jose policeman to be killed in the line of duty. It is my hope that 10 years from today I’ll be able to write those same words. But the politically pandering policies recently enacted by Chief Moore and by the County Supervisors make that less likely.

    Rest in Peace, Officer Fontana. Your tragic and untimely death were not in vain but rather will always stand as a reminder to the people of San Jose of the unswerving respect and cooperation we owe our policemen when they don that uniform.