Cindy Chavez is the Change San Jose Needs
The Safest Big City in America Once Again
When I served on the San Jose City Council, we were the safest big city in America. When I am mayor, we will be again by investing in our public safety staff, expanding our crime prevention efforts, and working with our communities and neighborhoods.
Recruiting and Retaining the Best Officers
We must invest in our public safety staff, both sworn police officers and non-sworn professionals. Misguided policies and bad budget decisions made a decade ago drove many of our best officers to leave the San Jose Police Department for other law enforcement agencies in the region that offered better pay and benefits. The SJPD used to be the department that the best and brightest wanted to work for, I will ensure that is true once again. That exodus of officers to other departments, combined with the Baby Boomers beginning to reach retirement age, has left us dangerously understaffed with uniformed officers. The result is longer response times to 911 calls, reduced services, and current officers who are overworked and exhausted due to mandatory overtime. We need to add more officers.
As important as adding more officers, we need to add ones who reflect the community they serve. We need officers who have the language skills, cultural competency, and lived experience in our Latino, Vietnamese, and other diverse communities. We also need more women officers. This requires expanded outreach and recruiting efforts that emphasize what a rewarding career law enforcement can be. These efforts need to begin as early as middle school.
We also need to provide our officers with the best training and resources so they can deal with any situation they are confronted with, and most importantly, they know when and how to deescalate a situation. We will also expect the highest standards and professionalism from them. This will ensure we have a police department that is trusted by residents in every community in our city.
In addition to more sworn officers, we also need to increase our number of community service officers and other non-sworn personnel, including trained mental health and substance abuse professionals. Much of the crime and public safety issues in our community have mental health and substance abuse issues as a root cause. The County’s Mobile Crisis Response Team puts professionals trained in those areas out on the streets responding to calls alongside sworn officers. We need to deepen this partnership between the City and County and make sure it has enough resources to be fully deployed citywide, with particular focus on priority areas such as those with large homeless populations.
Community service officers perform many valuable public safety functions, including traffic control and follow-up reporting, that do not need to be done by sworn officers. As part of the recruitment process, we will provide the training and support to succeed. Moreover, we need to ensure they are staffed and resourced at the level necessary to fully cover San Jose. (ADD Dispatcher)
A Proactive Department That Prevents Crime
By adding more officers, we can begin to proactively address the low-level street crime that has become far too prevalent in the city. Porch pirates have become an unfortunate reality in every San Jose neighborhood. I will have the police department work with the Postal Service and the other large package delivery services to craft a program to catch porch pirates in the act and deter porch piracy overall.
We also need to expand crime prevention efforts in San Jose, particularly cutting down on truancy and providing after school activities and options for adolescents and young adults. These are the age groups that are statistically most likely to make bad decisions that lead to crime. As a county supervisor, I led efforts to provide more recreation opportunities in San Jose’s most economically challenged neighborhoods, including partnering with the San Jose Earthquakes to build multiple publicly accessible soccer fields at the Fairgrounds. As mayor, I will ensure that the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department, along with our community partners, has the resources to provide activities and options for our young residents so they do not make bad choices because they have too much unstructured time on their hands.
To be successful, all of these efforts will require working closely with the police department’s leadership and rank-and-file, as well as county prosecutors, neighborhoods, and community partners. I have the proven ability to do that and have been endorsed by both the San Jose Police Officers Association and District Attorney Jeff Rosen.