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San Jose business owners welcome Mayor Mahan's plan to add more police officers

San Jose business owners welcome plan for more police officers patrolling downtown
San Jose business owners welcome plan for more police officers patrolling downtown 02:53

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan unveiled a plan Monday to increase the size of the city's police force, saying the number of officers is far below other large cities in the U.S.

During a media availability/bicycle patrol with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata along the Coyote Creek trail in South San Jose, Mahan said the police department has less than 1,200 officers, which works out to about 11 officers for every 10,000 residents.

"We are a relatively safe big city. I'm very proud of the fact we just came in with the lowest homicide rate per capita," said Mahan. "We are severely understaffed. It makes it extremely difficult to provide the level of responsiveness and follow-up and community policing our residents demand."

Mahan's budget plan would focus on doubling the rate at which new police officers are hired, enhancing recruitment efforts, and implementing new technology to streamline processes. Many business owners downtown say they support Mahan's plan.  

The mural outside San Jose's Mezcal restaurant is as colorful as the food is flavorful, but owner Aldolfo Gomez says it's not easy running his downtown business. 

"Homelessness, that's still a major issue for us as a small business," said Gomez, owner of Mezcal Restaurant.

Gomez says his business has struggled with vandalism and vagrants as well as a perception problem from some would-be customers that the downtown area simply isn't safe.

"The safety issue is a huge issue, you know?" said Gomez. "These folks are considering visiting us or another city. But because we don't have that sense of security, that's a major problem."

Gomez wants the city to increase foot patrols downtown; an effective, if not efficient, strategy that would ultimately come down to having more manpower available.

"Those police officers walking the beat, talking to the business owners, they become part of our community," Gomez said. "They become part of our everyday lives. And it's easier to prevent problems."

Gomez says his business survived the pandemic and he believes with just a little help and a greater police presence that it might just thrive again.

"We only have one downtown. And we've got to fix our downtown because that's really the heart of the city. That's where almost everybody works," he said.

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