Crime Stoppers Builds Collateral

By Jim Cogan

In many cities, community policing begins and ends with Neighborhood Watch. That is not the case in San Jose. Whether it’s ego or staffing limitations, there are few departments that offer the same level of commitment as the San Jose Police Department.

As President of Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers, I can tell you we enjoy support from command staff in almost every jurisdiction in the county. But the SJPD has fully embraced our cause — all the way through to the beat officers.

I have had an opportunity to witness the dedication and professionalism of the San Jose Police Department in ways that very few people have. I have seen our Liaison Officer hop on a plane and fly to Missouri to detain and transport a bail-jumping child molester or jump on a tip to arrest drug dealers. Just this spring, San Jose police apprehended a top lieutenant in the Mexican mafia by acting quickly on a simple parole violation tip they received from Crime Stoppers.

The SJPD has worked diligently to develop credibility with the community. This credibility helps the department solve and prevent crimes. Their support of Crime Stoppers has built on that collateral.

Two years ago, we assisted in solving three homicides. One was a brutal rape and stabbing. SJPD officers encouraged potential witnesses at the scene to call Crime Stoppers with tips in order to remain anonymous. The tips came in, and the murderers were caught.

Last month, we received a tip that a juvenile gang member had brought a knife to school in order to seek retribution from rival gang members who had assaulted him the day before. Our Liaison Officer wasted no time in going to the school. The juvenile admitted to the officer that he had a knife on him, saying “I’m not going to lie to you...” That kind of rapport is invaluable, and in this case, the combination of a Crime Stopper tip and SJPD credibility probably saved lives.

Our police department may not be perfect. There is always room for improvement. But improvement can only come through open and honest dialogue. The San Jose Police Department has endured an assault of criticism in the past year. Unfortunately, the few constructive recommendations to emerge from the controversy have been lost in what can only be categorized as a witch hunt.

It is time we recognize that we have a professional and dedicated police department that works hard to serve our community. Eroding their credibility will not make us safer. It will only make it harder for the police to protect our great city and may compromise the continued success of programs like Crime Stoppers.

We like to say, “Crime Stoppers works because of you!” It is with all confidence that I say Crime Stoppers would not work without the San Jose Police Department.