SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In 2021, the city of San Jose saw a slight decrease in homicides than the year prior.

According to SJPD, there were 31 confirmed homicides within the department’s jurisdiction in 2021.

That number compares to the 44 homicides in 2020, a decrease of 13 for 2021 and the city’s lowest since 2018.

Since 2015, San Jose has averaged approximately 36 homicides a year, ranging from a low of 27 in 2018 to a high of 47 in 2016.

SJPD Sergeant Christian Camarillo told KRON4 News in December that having a group of proactive officers, despite ongoing staffing shortages, has helped curb the homicide numbers in 2021.

“We are seizing firearms, many ghost guns, at an alarming rate. Every illegally possessed gun we seize prevents a potential violent crime, like homicide,” said Camarillo.

“We also want to acknowledge the community’s involvement and partnerships we have formed to help solve many of these incidents.”

Department challenges

As the department continues to face significant understaffing, SJPD has relied heavily on overtime over the last decade.

According to a March report released by the city auditor, SJPD’s overtime hours increased 300% over the last 10 years and accounted for 10% of the department’s total budget. 

The department has dealt with low staffing numbers over the last 20 years, the lowest staffing numbers coming in 2016-2017 with only 1,107 budgeted positions. 

The March report revealed that layoffs and reductions in budgeted staffing during the Great Recession along with high numbers of resignations and retirements in subsequent years, resulted in a decline in the number of active sworn officers. 

The city budgeted for 1,358 sworn staff in 2001 but as it stands that number has decreased to 1,157 officers in 2020-2021. 

According to the report, although the department has begun to grow again, the department’s police force is overall less experienced than it was 10 years ago.