On Friday, one teen shot another teen, who happened to be riding his bike by Story and Capital Expressway. It was a senseless killing, but hardly the first in the city’s recent spate of violence. It brings the number of homicides in the city up to seven in the month of January alone, and there’s still another week left. Last year, in contrast, there was one homicide in all of January and 21 homicides throughout the entire year. At this rate the city could match 2010’s number by early March.
Yes, violence is on the rise in San Jose, especially gang violence. That is why the city hosted a Crime and Gang Prevention Summit this Saturday. The focus was threefold: prevention, intervention and suppression. The challenges were real—with the growing budget deficit, police and social services, usually on the front lines in the struggle against gangs, were slashed, are slashed, and are likely to be slashed again.
One of the solutions that the city is offering is to bring faith-based initiatives into the fray. The city is hoping that volunteers mobilized by the churches will turn out en masse to help people leave gangs. The Task Force’s Mario Marcel says that adult involvement with at-risk kids is key to keeping them off the streets and away from gangs. The question remains whether that will be enough to make up for diminishing professional intervention by the SJPD and social service organizations.