The number of people arrested for public drunkenness has skyrocketed in San Jose in recent years, in sharp contrast to other large California cities that have found alternatives to prosecuting people for being drunk on city streets, reports the city’s Mercury News. The contrast between the San Jose policies and those of other large California cities was revealed in an analysis of five years of state data, part of an ongoing Mercury News investigation of police handling of public-drunkenness cases. The analysis shows that San Jose police arrests for public drunkenness jumped by 57 percent from 2003 to 2007, and 60 percent since 2004, the year Rob Davis became chief of the department.
The local rise is dramatically higher than the statewide 17 percent increase over the five-year period. And it is even more pronounced in comparison with other big cities. The San Jose police practices have been the subject of a public controversy, following a Mercury News report last month that the department arrested more people for violating the state public-drunkenness law last year than any other department in the state, and a disproportionate number – 57 percent – of those arrested in San Jose were Hispanic. The statistics have touched off widespread criticisms, especially among leaders in the Hispanic community.