Community patrols on the streets of San Joses Japantown

Citizen patrols to monitor crime in San Jose

A retired police officer wants to help bring Japantown, San Jose, to safety, but is recruiting dozens of volunteers to offer patrols. James Torrez from KTVU reports.

Community patrols could hit the streets of San Joses Japantown as early as Monday.

Efforts to protect the community are led by a retired San Jose police officer.

Volunteers have already started to identify and deal with suspicious behavior that could lead to violent behavior.

As crimes against the AAPI community increase, so too do efforts to protect them.

The February graphic crime of forcibly knocking an elderly Asian man to the ground from behind in Oakland is one of several widespread attacks that worried retired San Jose police officer Richard Saito so much that he felt compelled to do something to do.

“When I see this on the news, I have to tell myself what I can do to contribute,” said Saito, who describes himself as a public safety volunteer.

Community patrols on the streets of San Joses Japantown

Community patrols could hit the streets of San Joses Japantown as early as Monday. Efforts to protect the community are led by a retired San Jose police officer. Greg Liggins reports

His response was to start community patrols around San Jose’s Japantown.

The retired San Jose police officer is a member of the Japantown Community Congress and leads Japantown Prepared, a volunteer group primarily intended to help with natural disasters. He says the group is also concerned about crime.

When he called for volunteers to patrol the citizens of Japantown on foot, a flood of interest streamed in.

“I had over 100 people signing up for the training call yesterday plus 90 people who couldn’t get on because my Zoom account was full.”

Volunteers will potentially be looking for suspicious activity on the street as early as Monday, especially late morning through afternoon when most of the elderly are absent.

Volunteers who take three primary measures to prevent crime are appointed vests.

“Make sure you report it to the authorities and then they’ll record it on their phones.”

Tiffany Luu, who works at the Biscuits Dog Boutique on Jackson Street, says the mounting violence against Asians has been emotionally draining for her and her family.

She says that patrolling the community will help alleviate the fear and tension that people carry around with them.

“The fact that we know that people are watching over us there can relax us a little more and enjoy our time even more,” said Luu.

By the summer, Saito hopes the need to patrol these streets will no longer be needed.

By then, he says more people should be vaccinated, restaurants and entertainment venues should be closer to normal operations, and more people should be back to work.

“It will take some pressure off people so they won’t feel the need to hit each other

with Asians, “Saito said.

The San Jose Police Department issued an email indicating that they are not involved in or participating in these foot patrols.

But Saito says a division captain has pledged to step up motor patrols in Japantown, which he usually doesn’t think is the case.

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