San Jose P.D.'s ‘street crimes unit' returns after 20-year absence

The San Jose Police Department is bringing back an old unit from nearly 20 years ago. Its Street Crimes Unit was dismantled due to low staffing levels but has now been revived. KTVU rode along with officers Thursday night as they focused on quality of life crimes.

At this shopping center on Senter Road in South San Jose, police spoke to several people in and around suspicious vehicles with no plates and skewed parking. They later determined there was no criminal activity but that's not always the case.

“Often times we see that very small crimes, drinking in public leads to a drive-by, leads to a robbery,” said Officer Steve Aponte of San Jose Police. 

Aponte is part of the newly-resurrected street crimes unit made up of six officers and one sergeant. The unit is dedicated to quality of life problems from property crimes, drug enforcement and prostitution that have plagued neighborhoods for years.

“Our goal is to draw a line in the sand,” said Aponte. “Make sure people who are harassing people, people who are hurting, people who are committing crimes and affecting our neighbors are told they can't do that.”

In two and half months, police said the unit has made 32 felony arrests,143 misdemeanor arrests, issued 61 citations and recovered 16 stolen cars.

This week, the Street Crimes Unit assisted the Special Operations Metro Unit with confiscating $143,000 in cash, more than one and half pounds of meth, one ounce of heroin and one ounce of cocaine.

Near Hayes Mansion on Thursday night, the unit cited a man for illegal parking and for smoking marijuana in public.

“I think there's bigger things crimes that should be addressed,” said Robert Garcia of San Jose. 

“It’s not the action of him smoking in the park,” said Aponte. “It’s him being here in a suspicious vehicle after dark
where he's not supposed to be parked where several neighbors and residents live across the street.”

Police said it's an area known for drug sales and prostitution and the message is to change bad behavior and to make residents feel safe.

“If that changes having people come here to consume alcohol, consume drugs, engage in sex trade, engage in drug trade which occurs habitually in this area, it’s a good thing,” said Aponte.