Urban renewal Officers make presence felt

The Secondary Enforcement Units (SEU) program of the Property-
Based Improvement District (PBID) focuses on quality-of-life concerns, with off-duty and reserve San Jose Police Department officers working the downtown core mornings and afternoons Monday through Friday. 

Following a slow start in 2013, the PBID-SEU has evolved into a results-driven, community-building enterprise.

Two key factors led to the units’ growth.  First was the overall rebound of SJPD with the hiring of new officers and full Police Academy classes.  Second is Sgt. Adam Jenkins, who started in May as on-duty coordinator and then recruited new officers to join the PBID-SEU team.  

“I initially thought the on-duty coordinator role was purely administrative, taking care of scheduling and recruiting officers,” Jenkins said.  “The role is really more about relationship development.”

Upon the retirement of two former PBID-SEU officers, Jenkins found individuals from his own team familiar with downtown and looking to gain additional community policing experience.  Today, the program is fully staffed with eight officers providing 50 hours of uniformed SJPD visibility in the district each week, plus four officers providing back-up coverage. 

The officers work in pairs and can cover the entire downtown, thanks to their custom PBID-supplied golf cart.  Assignments also include walking patrols of specific neighborhoods and making business contacts.  During July, officers made 53 business contacts, assisted Groundwerx with 28 calls for service and responded to 193 instances of individuals loitering.

“Working with SJDA has allowed my officers to forge better relationships with downtowners and provided an opportunity for them to educate businesses and residents on what we are working on and what services we can provide,” Jenkins said.  

Conversely, the officers are learning about the needs of businesses, tenants and residents.  Business are taking notice of the increased police presence.

“Having the officers makes a huge difference in how safe my staff and our members feel,” said Tara Grady, Orangetheory fitness general manager.  “Knowing I can call and request assistance gives us such peace of mind.” 

At the San Jose Museum of Art, SEU officers worked with museum staff to identify repeat offenders creating trespassing, graffiti and trash problems at the museum.

“We appreciate the cooperative nature and visibility ofthe SEU officers.  They are clearly here to make a difference,” said Donna Butcher, sales and business development manager at Children’s Discovery Museum.  SEU officers are working with museum staff to identify people creating trespassing, graffiti and trash problems around the museum.

Most of the officers recently recruited into the PBID-SEU Program are within their first few years of service with SJPD.

The program gives Officer Daniel Montesano the opportunity to see downtown in a different light, literally, than his normal shift.

“Downtown at midnight and downtown at 10 a.m. are often two very different places,” Montesano said. “As a result, how I approach my work has to vary.  Working the PBID shift allows me to be more proactive than reactive.”

During her SEU shifts, Officer Rachel Bowen connects with business and property owners who have had challenges with trespassing and evangelizes the department’s recently revamped STOP Program.  STOP allows officers to enforce trespassing laws when the owner or operator are not on the property. 

“Being able to connect with a business owner and enroll them in STOP allows my colleagues and me to be more effective during my swing shift with SJPD,” Bowen said.  “That enforcement can change the dynamic of a neighborhood.”

Business and property owners can enroll in STOP by downloading the application from sjpd.org/reportingcrime/stop_program and mailing the form to SJPD, 201 W. Mission St., San Jose, 95110.

The SEU program not only puts more officers on the streets for businesses, residents and property owners, it strengthens downtown’s relationship with the Police Department, said Chloe Verrey, SJDA operations manager. 

“We are in constant communication with SJPD about the challenges our members and downtowners encounter,” she said.

Groundwerx Program Director Semu One Bear has indicated having a full complement of PBID-SEU officers has helped the efficiency and morale of Groundwerx ambassadors and clean team members who typically make first contact with downtown’s street population on a daily basis.

 

PBID-SEU shifts are MondayThursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday from 7 a.m. to noon.  
Officers can be reached via the Groundwerx dispatch number 408-287-1250.  For questions about the PBID-SEU Program, contact Verrey at cverrey@sjdowntown.com.

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