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Report Details 25 Years Of Officer-Involved Shootings In S.D. County

 August 19, 2019 at 10:29 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The San Diego District Attorney's office calls it the most comprehensive analysis on officer involved shootings in local history. The DA's office has analyzed and released information about 25 years of officer involved shootings in the county. It finds more than 450 people have been shot in that time span and 55% of the shootings were fatal. Joining me with more of the numbers and analysis, a San Diego County district attorney Summer Stephan and welcome to the program. Thank you. Nice to be here. Why did you decide to compile this analysis? Well, I think that when you try to look at solutions on how you can uh, reduce the number of incidents that affect people's lives and officer's safety, the data has to be a huge part of it. Your solutions have to be driven by the data and that's why I wanted this to just not be just numbers but to hopefully provide pertinent information on where some solutions may be. Speaker 1: 01:01 And was it especially pertinent now for some reason, you know, we've been working on this report for a while, but I think that the timing couldn't be better. There is um, coming down from the legislature, um, new laws, there's also a more emphasis on deescalation and crisis. So the fact that even though it doesn't require it to go into effect 2021, the fact that we're already ready and that we have some solutions that are going to help everyone, I think it's a plus. Now, there's been a lot of concern across the country about police shooting people of color who are unarmed. The analysis did find that most of the people shot were people of color. Does that indicate to you a problem within law enforcement? You know, I wouldn't jump to that conclusion immediately because again, it was interesting to see that, um, with all the emphasis on recruiting diversity officers that the nine white officers also shot nonwhite folks. Speaker 1: 02:07 So, so I don't think it's going to be a simple formula. It's something we need to be aware of, but in my view really is issues of racism and things like that. You're not gonna eliminate by training. Those people have to be simply weeded out, you know, and just not a part of any profession. Uh, but the numbers that really are helpful are that in every shooting, 80% happened within the first five minutes. Right. And I was going to ask you about that. What's your reaction to that? Well, I think that's where we can do, um, we can see a lot of progress if you focus on the statistic of how fast the shoots are. Most of them a third are in the first minute and the rest are in the first five minutes. And the officer's clearly in looking at the reports don't have all the information. And so they reacting from surprise and not from having all the pertinent information Speaker 2: 03:07 in response to the report. Gun Violence Prevention activist, Bishop Cornelius Bowzer had this to say that no, when he got to the scene, most of those shootings happen with the soon as they got there or like five minutes I believe after that. So they have to learn to how to deescalate and take the time before they go into a crime scene or go into when they called to a scene or whatever, you're dealing with them now. You say that the police need me need more information and perhaps that would stop these shootings that occur so quickly. When police arrive on the scene, what kind of information Speaker 1: 03:36 do they need? Well, they need to know if the person had access to weapons, if they have mental health, a mental health history, drug history, violence, history, all of that information will allow them to prepare for less lethal force when they arrive. But nowadays they're just arriving and we see that families, when they're calling nine one one, they're not giving dispatch the full picture. So the officers are often surprised when a knife comes out or another instrument or a gun they haven't prepared and taken the time. They haven't established a barrier so that their bodily, their body is protected. So we see in the data actually arise in officers' also being injured from 8% to 12% over the last five years. And we see no drop, uh, with all the training that officers are going through, we, we still see an average of about 18 shootings a year. So that's an opportunity to create better training for deescalation and crisis. Okay. Speaker 2: 04:43 We also have reaction from SDSU professor Dr Darwin Fishman, who served on the board of San Diego's community review of police practices. Speaker 3: 04:52 Most all the changes, the district attorney and the police. Unfortunately you've had to drag them screaming and kicking. And I think that uh, they will probably be happy with just releasing this and that if we want any substantial changes with practices that we'll have to really push harder. Speaker 2: 05:07 So what about Dr Fishermen's concerns? He's concerned this report may just sit on a shelf somewhere and not actually lead to any changes in police practices and procedures. Yeah, Speaker 1: 05:17 well I definitely appreciate and I've met with hundreds of community members to get feedback as to what action they would like from this report. This report can just be just informational. This is too important of a topic. So what we're doing is beginning this month we are rolling out a massive revamp of the training that officers receive with regards to crisis and deescalation of this training already meets post standards and it focuses on mental health issues because we see those in substance abuse in 79% of the incidents. Eight out of 10 folks that are shot have mental health issues or substance abuse. So the focus of this training on officer's properly recognizing those symptoms and thus bringing a better tool set to that situation in terms of their communication skills and the less lethal force. So, so this comes also with money. We've put a million and a half of our asset for fraternal money in order to advance this training. Speaker 1: 06:32 We have the program ready in partnership with pert and the training begins late this month. It'll be mobile, so it'll go to all the police departments. And we do think that that's going to make a difference. Today the governor signed a B three 92 which changes the standard of police use of force from reasonable to necessary. Do you have any idea how many of the shootings you analyzed would pass that higher bar set by the new law to, I can't tell you that in terms of case by case, but I can tell you that some of the things that are in the law are, are things that necessarily they make sense and they're part of the review process. Uh, the, the law provides for a totality of the circumstances of looking whether there's imminent danger to the officer. And at the moment, the totality of the circumstances usually supports the officer's action. But it is the moments just before in terms of stopping that lethal moment, having more information. And that's where our focus is. So I think the new law, along with the training and the deescalation, this isn't going to be the only solution. There needs to be multiple solutions in the community. I've been speaking with San Diego County district attorney summer. Stephan, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you. Speaker 4: 08:09 [inaudible].

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The report details county shootings by police between 1993 and 2017, which average out to around 18 such shootings per year.
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