County To Vote On Police Reforms, Racial Justice Office
Speaker 1: 00:00 Tomorrow the San Diego County board of supervisors will consider a package of proposals designed to reform law enforcement oversight and strengthened racial justice across County operations. The three main proposals would change the way the County responds to behavioral health calls and Hance the role of the county's existing police review board and create a countywide office of equity and racial justice. The reforms are in response to local and nationwide calls to an incidence of police violence against African Americans. They were proposed by County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, after discussions with a variety of racial justice advocates, Johnny Mae, his supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, and welcome. Thank you for having me and Khaleed Alexander president and founder of pillars of the community. Khaleed. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Now, let me ask you for a supervisor Fletcher, how these proposals were developed. Speaker 2: 00:57 Well, we spent a lot of time, uh, listening to the community, uh, you know, a number of these types of issues we've been working on for many years. Uh, but we've had a moment where there's such greater awareness of the systemic racism that plagues so many aspects of our society that we felt like there was an opportunity to bring forward, uh, things that will not, of course solve systemic racism, but we'll take a step on a path to a more perfect union. Uh, and in particular strengthening citizen oversight of law enforcement, uh, with the club reforms, uh, making sure the entire County is thinking more about equity and racial justice, uh, with our office of equity and race relations. Uh, and then of course, beginning to transform who responds to instances by the creation of a County wide mobile crisis outreach team for behavioral health issues. Um, and these were ideas that came from the community were solicited with the community. We got tremendous feedback and buy in Speaker 1: 01:45 Khaleed. Your organization was part of the community that talked about it. These discussions took part in these discussions to make these policy proposals. What was your priority in the discussions? Speaker 3: 01:57 All three of them actually are extremely important for us, but the immediate one was creating an alternative to calling the police or calling law enforcement when people are having a mental health breakdown, the, you know, the idea of us needing to depend on, you know, people who are armed with guns and have absolutely no training or very, very minimal training. And then dealing with mental health crises is, you know, just kind of absurd. And so I think it's necessary that we think through alternatives to using the police, to, you know, take care of things that they weren't trained to do. So we were excited to see, um, supervisor, uh, Fletcher's proposal. Speaker 1: 02:37 The policy proposals would also change the citizens law enforcement review board also known as clerk Khaleed. Why does that need strengthening in your opinion? Speaker 3: 02:47 Well, I'll give you an example. I have a friend who, uh, and I've spoken to multiple people who actually went through the process of making complaints and having them, you know, re trying to have them reviewed by clerk and didn't get a response for an entire year. So the idea that you have, uh, an institution that is supposed to be overseeing law enforcement, that can't actually give any type of response for a year. And once that response comes, it falls far short from what the community's expectation is. Um, it's, you know, it's, it's, it's high time that we kind of looked at, um, what type of oversight abilities they have, you know, not having enough staff to be able to follow up on, on complaints is a huge issue. Not having the communities who are most impacted, negatively impacted by law enforcement, be a part of the process for selecting that committee, you know, is a problem. So if we really look at clerk and the way that it works and or more importantly, doesn't work, um, you know, again, these steps are small steps, but they're important steps in the direction of creating an environment where we can begin to speak about trust with law enforcement, Speaker 1: 03:58 Supervisor Fletcher, adding staff and resources to clerk and creating new crisis response teams. We'll of course, cost money. Will that be coming out of the sheriff departments more than $960 million budget? Speaker 2: 04:13 Well, we'll see in the budget process where it comes from, we're a $7 billion a year entity, and I think we can find the money to do mobile crisis outreach teams ensure proper oversight of law enforcement, and then ensure internally we're we're, we're, we're taking a look at everything we're doing. We want these passed. If they're passed, then they will be a part of being funded Speaker 1: 04:32 And supervisor, what is your stance on defunding law enforcement? Speaker 2: 04:36 I think the real aim of that, of that effort and program is around getting things in the proper alignment and having the most appropriate person to respond to the situation. And the reality is, uh, over many, many, many years, we've asked law enforcement to do things that they're not frankly trained or equipped to do, nor things they ought to be doing. And I think if we can provide in the case of the mobile crisis, outreach teams is a perfect example, 54,009 one one calls last year where behavioral health related and law enforcement responded. But if you have a stroke or a heart attack, law enforcement does not respond. Uh, and so in this instance, I think it is much more appropriate that a trained clinician who has the skill, the training, the patients, the time, the empathy, uh, to respond, show up and help these individuals on the path to getting the proper treatment and getting their life back not only serves to deescalate, but also will get us better outcomes. Uh, and so I think it is, it is, it is time that we address how we properly fund prevention, restorative justice, and other types of things, uh, in an effort to alleviate the need. On the other side, Speaker 1: 05:41 Colleen, will you be pressing, will your organization be pressing for a decrease in the county's law enforcement budget? Speaker 3: 05:46 Absolutely. You know, we can't look at all of the shortcomings and all of our other social services, whether it's education, whether it's health, whether it's mental health, um, and see how it's failing, you know, first black Speaker 2: 05:58 And Brown communities, um, and not look for other avenues to be able to fund those, those institutions in order to prevent law enforcement from having to be involved. Speaker 1: 06:08 This three-part policy proposal has already been criticized by Shane Harris of the people's Alliance for justice as being tone, deaf, and failing to address systematic racial injustice in San Diego, supervisor Fletcher, will you be seeking input from him and his organization as you move forward, Speaker 2: 06:27 Some input from anyone? Uh, you know, it's important to note, we did not hear from him at all. I still have not heard at all from him. Uh, I suppose after the press conference, maybe we'll get an insight into what his concerns are, but look, we're welcome and open to work with any group out there that has any idea, uh, about how we can better improve our community. Uh, I'm grateful for all of the organizations and groups that help craft this policy, but every policy we're always open to continue to input and feedback on ways we can strengthen things and make them better. Speaker 1: 06:56 And just, if I may change topics for a moment, the County COVID-19 numbers were not great. Over the weekend, we saw a positive test rate of 7.2% much higher than the approximately 3% positive rate we've been seeing lately. Plus we also triggered again on the number of COVID clusters identified in the County. So what steps is the County taking Speaker 2: 07:18 Maureen? It's no surprise to anyone I've been the lone vote against expedited. Reopenings, I've been on the side of caution and responsible reopenings I've long been concerned. We're moving too fast with too many entities open. Uh, and honestly we're not seeing enough adherence to the public health, uh, orders that, that are out there that are designed to protect us. Uh, and so I am concerned, uh, we've had four consecutive days of the outbreak trigger being yet. And as you noted yesterday, I was a single highest day percentage positive we've had since we increased testing, uh, you know, one day doesn't make a trend. We'll have to see what the numbers are this today and tomorrow and throughout the week. Uh, but it's really important that the public know that the dangers of Corona virus are the same today as they were in March and April and may. Speaker 2: 07:58 Um, and as we've begun our reopening process, we really have to stringently adhere to face covering and physical distancing hand-washing temperature checks. Uh, you know, it's not just Arizona and Texas that are spike it's places in California, orange County, Ventura, uh, other counties you've seen significant increases, and we don't want to throw away the sacrifice that has been made. Uh, we don't want to interrupt our economic recovery and we don't want to overwhelm our healthcare system. And so it would be my hope we could get wider spread adherence to the orders, uh, and get these numbers under control. Speaker 1: 08:28 I have been speaking with the San Diego County supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, and Khaleed Alexander president and founder of pillars of the community. Thank you both very much for your time. Thank you. Thank you for having us.