San Jose’s police officers’ union is calling on local leaders to provide mutual aid to the city’s police department, saying that officers were overwhelmed by the volume of calls this past weekend and could not promptly respond to one that later turned into a homicide.
Due to multiple shootings, stabbings and two homicides, large areas of the city were left without officers to respond to emergency calls on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association said.
“SJPOA demands an immediate investigation as to why city leaders did not request mutual aid from outside agencies so that 911 calls could be responded to, it is unconscionable that a city our size can’t get its police staffing crisis under control,” said Sean Pritchard, president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association. “The homicide that began as a music disturbance call could have been prevented, shame on those who continue to lie about our understaffing.”
One unattended call came from a resident reporting a music disturbance complaint from a party in the 500 block of Madera Avenue at 11:03 p.m. on Oct. 29. At 12:45 a.m. Oct. 30, several residents called 911 to report a fight and a shooting at the same location.
After arriving at the scene, officers identified a man with multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at 1:02 a.m., according to police reports.
A police department spokesperson said that no officers were available to respond to the initial noise complaint due to a “number of priority calls.”
“We had a lot of major incidents going on at the time that did spread us very thin and that did max out our resources.”Sgt. Christian Camarillo, SJPD
He added that in efforts to manage the coverage needed over the weekend, the department implemented a citywide holdover for swing shift officers to keep roughly 85 officers on call until 4 a.m., rather than their usual shift ending at 1 a.m.
“We had a lot of major incidents going on at the time that did spread us very thin and that did max out our resources,” said Sgt. Christian Camarillo, citing multiple shooting incidents that were being investigated during the initial noise complaint call.
“I wouldn’t say that us not responding to the music call resulted in that turning into a homicide. Because any minor incident can quickly rapidly escalate into something else,” Camarillo said.
According to the department’s statistics, the San Jose Police Department has 952 working officers, which is significantly lower than the 2,400 officers the police agency should have if it was following the national average number of officers per citizen.
Camarillo said the staffing crisis in San Jose is not unique — departments across the United States are challenged with recruiting and retention.
“The fact of the matter is you can have a police officer at every street corner, and then we’re still going to have crime,” Camarillo said.