Deadly Force, De-Escalation Training, Weekend Events
KPBS Midday Edition / May 24, 2019
California civil rights and law enforcement groups reached an agreement on police use of deadly force: the state Assembly will vote on AB-392 next week. Also, San Diego DA Summer Stephan on a 'sea change' in the county criminal justice system's approach to helping people with mental illness and San Diego’s top weekend events.
Speaker 1: 00:00 After much debate, both civil rights and law enforcement advocates have reached a compromise on assembly bill three 92 that legislation would change the lethal use of force standard by changing the language in the law from reasonable to necessary. Nick Miller, editor at Capitol public radio is joining us to talk about what this means for the way law enforcement in California use lethal force. Nick, welcome. Hi, this bill has been at the center of debate on police reform. Remind us of what was so controversial.
Speaker 2: 00:31 The conversation started last year after unarmed black man, Stefan Clark was fatally shot by to Sacramento police officers. And that sort of sparked a discussion of the legal standard for when a law enforcement officer can use lethal force. The standard currently is when it is reasonable, when there is a reasonable fear that the officer has a threat to their life. The agreement that was a forged a on Thursday would, uh, would change that standard to necessary. So unless it's necessary for an officer to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury. And that's widely viewed as a, as a higher legal standard than any existing in the United States now. So California's sort of gone from a lower to your standard to to something that's a at the forefront or at the vanguard of the entire country.
Speaker 1: 01:20 And what compromises were made to get both law enforcement and civil rights advocates on the same page with us.
Speaker 2: 01:25 So law enforcement, they've, they've dropped their opposition because the bill has removed some sort of definitions, what I like to refer to as sort of a checkbox of what necessary force would entail. So what that means is that when the next lethal use of force occurs, when there is a fatal encounter involving an officer, it may be up to the courts to determine that now because the language is no longer in the bill. So law enforcement, they've been collaborating with lawmakers and I'm at the bargaining table with a civil rights groups and civil liberties groups to sort of negotiate this. This is a negotiation that's been going on last year since the bill didn't pass in last year session. And uh, that's one of the big concessions that was made
Speaker 1: 02:08 with that definition of necessary being taken out of this bill. Does that sort of remove the teeth, uh, that it would have had
Speaker 2: 02:18 the new measure would still bar police from using lethal force unless it is necessary. So the standard right now is reasonable. Most people say that that standard has been strengthened now to necessary. But yes, there are some people who say that it's been quote water down. I think that's um, you know, we've, we've spoken to some law enforcement consultants or use of force experts who say that because there is not specific definitions of what necessary entails in the law that some of the teeth have been potentially taken out of it. And like I said, that means that it's going to be up to the courts to determine whether an officer use necessary force and they're going to have to figure that out on a case by case basis.
Speaker 1: 02:58 All right. What's next for this legislation?
Speaker 2: 03:00 Okay. So the bill is going to have to be voted on in the assembly next week. Um, and then it'll go to the other house, the Senate, and it could receive some minor amendments there. But what's really interesting is a senate pro tem Atkins has signed on as a joint author of this bill, which is sort of a, an overture to the fact that it probably isn't going to change that much if it makes it through the Senate. And this is sort of the, the final piece of legislation that could end up on Governor Gavin Newson's desk if it passes both houses. In the next week and a half, I've been speaking with Nick Miller, editor at Capitol public radio. Nick, thanks so much for joining us anytime.
Speaker 3: 03:37 Hmm.
Speaker 1: 00:00 At least one in three adults in the criminal justice system have a mental illness while one in five adults and the overall population have a mental illness. With those statistics, the San Diego County District Attorney's office is out with a blueprint that lays out a new approach for addressing mental health and the criminal justice system in the county. Joining me to discuss this new approach is San Diego County district attorney summer. Stephan summer. Welcome. Thank you for having me. All right. I want to start today by asking you for your reaction to news that law enforcement groups no longer oppose assembly. Bill three 92 now to refresh everyone's memory that San Diego Assembly woman, surely Weber's bill, that proposes to change the standard for when police can use lethal force from when it's quote reasonable to only quote necessary. What are your thoughts on that? I'm studying all the details in the bill.
Speaker 1: 00:50 There were last minute changes is my understanding and I look forward to learning all of the details and this is relevant to our conversation today because about eight and 10 officer involved shootings in San Diego county involve people who are having mental health or substance abuse issues. How much did that factor into the development of the blueprint for mental health reform you just introduced this week? Well, it was very important for us to address the huge intersection between mental health, substance abuse and the criminal justice system. So the blueprint was really a product of a year's work from a variety of stakeholders that we brought to the table to develop this one of the 10 recommendations from the blueprint because it all works hand in hand together. There isn't a simple one size fits all solution was to advance and enhance the training for police officers, first responders and dispatchers on how they deal with this large segment of the population with mental health and substance abuse.
Speaker 1: 01:57 As you said, one of the recommendations and the blueprint is to give mental health training to first responders. How is this training different from the training officers currently receive? Officers receive training, but our capacity is, uh, the per team can only train about 300 officers a year. We have almost 5,000 officers in San Diego County, and the goal is to help advance that training so every officer can get that training in the next three years. We believe that that can be lifesaving tools that involves stigma reduction, more understanding of the symptoms of delusions of also of methamphetamine toxicity, being able to call paramedics as soon as you notice those symptoms that often turn fatal. And why is giving mental health training for first responders important for helping San Diego County residents who are experiencing a mental health crisis? Draining officers and first responders aren't on how to better respond, how to bring the right tools, how to de escalate it can save that individual's life.
Speaker 1: 03:04 It can also help the officer from injury to themselves. It can also build that trust and the relationship with the community. Uh, being able to notice those symptoms really allows you to bring other tools than deadly force to that situation as needed. We believe that it's going to be one of those items that will result in a sea change in how we deal with mental health. One of the other big things that goes hand in hand in this is officers rely on the information that dispatchers give them and that information is often deficient. We produced nine one one cards working with Nami, the National Alliance of mental illness so that the families, when they call, when a mother is calling about a son, about a brother in crisis, she can at the same time describe access to weapons, medications, what has in the best calm this person down and brought down the violence levels, all sorts of information that can assist the officers when they arrive on scene to deal with that situation appropriately.
Speaker 1: 04:18 How do you see officers with this training interacting with the county psychiatric emergency response teams? This is really dependent on that interaction. This curriculum is built with the county psychological response team with the per team. We know out of the 54,000 calls that officers receive, there's only capacity for per to respond to 10,000 of them. And even if Burke is present on scene, pert cannot react or get involved until the situation has been calmed down and there are no weapons or violence. So the officers still have to do that initial interaction. So pert and the officers can work hand in hand in a more seamless manner. And the report also recommends the creation of mental health urgent care centers. What services do you envision being offered at this type of center? This is a very exciting innovation that has been brought about in other regions.
Speaker 1: 05:18 And the good news is the county board of Supervisors, supervisor Jacob has asked, um, the board and the county officers to bring back concrete recommendations with regard to the creation of mental health hubs. So in many of these interactions, the officers have two choices. Take this person to jail or take them to an emergency room. This offers a third option. When you've identified something as really a mental health crisis, you can take them to this mental health as stabilization hub and they don't have to wait four hours in emergency rooms that we're after a cardiac arrest and other things and their needs. They can be stabilized for a just under 24 hours and offered and connected with the continuum of care and service. And your office is investing 1.5 million for the training of first responders, but at where we'll funding for the rest of the recommendations come from.
Speaker 1: 06:20 Um, the funding has to come from different sources. The county government, the HHS save funding, which there is a lot of funding there. Some private public partnerships are being explored with existing hospitals. Um, it's gonna take a whole unified front to come together. This issue cannot be solved by one agency alone, but it is such a priority for me that I wanted our office to basically put our money behind this and I felt that I wanted to spend the money that I have to support these efforts and to get them on their way. I have been speaking to San Diego County district attorney summer in summer. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Speaker 2: 07:07 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 This long weekend is all about skewing your expectations, whether it's a new take on Jane Austin or the music of game of Thrones translated to the Oregon plus the San Diego Jewish arts festival begins and local high school students try their shot at Broadway. It's all ahead on today's weekend preview and KPBS arts calendar editor, Nina Garren is here. Hi Nina. Hello. So sitting that theater recently opened Jane Austen's pride and prejudice. Is this a traditional staging? It's traditional in the terms that the language and the story is what you expect, but the staging is not traditional at all. You're going to get music from eighties girl pop bands. Um, the choreography is really fun. Think cheerleading. Um, and the actors, they play different characters. And so often you have men playing women. How will Jane Austin Purest feel about all this? So Kate Hamill is who adopted it and she's known for taking classic stories, um, and preserving the integrity.
Speaker 1: 01:04 I think they'll like it if they know it's going to be a little bit different. And what's good is that it examined social and gender issues through a modern perspective. And in case some of us forgot the plot of pride and prejudice. Remind us of what it's about. It's a family of five daughters and the mom is desperate to find a perfect match for everyone. Um, but really it's about the romance of Elizabeth and Darcy. They're too prideful and prejudice to realize that they are very compatible. And you saw it last weekend. What'd you think? I loved it. I love things that are traditional but take a new form. It's very inventive. It's very outrageous, but also serious. I think. Um, you should check it out. And tickets for this are going fast. Okay. Pride and prejudice plays through June 16th at signature theater and the Broadway San Diego high school awards are also this weekend.
Speaker 1: 01:57 Can you tell us what this is? It's a high school musical theater competition with San Diego's top 20 students competing to win a trip to New York where they compete on a national level. So what happens at the award show? Is it open to the public? Yeah, it's actually a really fun show. You get the top 10 boys and the top 10 girls and they perform a solo from their show and then alive in front of you, it gets narrowed down to the top six and then the top two and the grand prize is a trip to New York for a similar competition. Tell us about that. It's called the Jimmy awards and it has students from all over the United States and many people who have been finalists or one are now on Broadway. Like the winner from last year is playing Evan Hansen and dear Evan Hansen and the most famous is even know Bousada who first was in Miss Saigon and got a Tony Nomination and is nominated again for being in Haiti's town. Hmm. Let's listen to a clip from last year's winner and Jonas Mcmillan. This is try me from the musical. She loves me in this.
Speaker 2: 02:59 I would let you down, Mr Meritech [inaudible]. Oh, I can tell by the uncertain way you frown that you've asked yourself why me for a first class working at dupont conscientious working Mr. Merritt check Wyandotte
Speaker 3: 03:17 [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 03:19 let me turn this jar, madam. Certainly rights. You are Madam, you say that it smells like a rounded cat does at that at Merritt text, madam be claimed with pride, the customer must be satisfied
Speaker 1: 03:36 and we should mention that you're actually one of the judges in this competition, right? I am. It's my third year and it's one of my favorite things to do. I just love seeing all the talented kids in San Diego and talented. They are the Broadway San Diego high school awards happened Sunday at the Balbo with theater and the 26th annual San Diego Jewish arts festival kicks off this weekend. Tell us about this event. It's an arts festival that takes the Jewish experience and sees it through the Lens of art. So you have a mix of music, dance and theater and it is something that goes through July 11th and one of the first events is a collaboration between San Diego ballet and the musician Yale strong. Uh, tell me about that. Maelstrom is a world renowned Klezmer musician and historian and Klezmer is kind of the traditional music of European Ashkenazi Jews. And so this is going to be a ballet show that features romantic poetry, music and dance, and they're all world premieres choreographed by Javier Velazco and we have some music from yield. Strom and hot pastrami from the album. The absolutely complete introduction to Klezmer
Speaker 4: 04:45 [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 04:51 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 05:09 lots of energy there. Yes. So what are some of the other festival highlights? In June there's going to be a night of Bob Dylan songs. There's also going to be an Israeli operatic pop trio that's in town. And then there's going to be a staged reading of a new show by Herbert. See Gwen Zay called Asimov's last chapter in the San Diego Jewish arts festival runs through July at venues throughout the county. And finally there is an event for people having withdrawals from game of Thrones. Yeah, this actually just got put together for this weekend. The Spreckels organ society and the Organist Rye will Prietto Ramirez. They put together an extended mentally of music from the game of Thrones that'll be performed on the Oregon. Let's listen to the theme song from the show.
Speaker 3: 05:54 [inaudible] there it is.
Speaker 1: 06:12 So how does this translate onto the origin? All the organ is so powerful and this song is very layered. So the organist just going to bring all the magical qualities of the music. It's very lush and yet it's going to be great to hear it performed in this Oregon, which is the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world. And this is a free event. It's free and it's in the afternoon, so spots will be full and you need to arrive early. The music from the game of Thrones happened Sunday at the Spreckels organ pavilion in Balboa Park. You can find more email@example.com slash. Arts I've been speaking with arts calendar editor, Nina Garren. Nina, thanks. Thanks. Have a good weekend.
Speaker 3: 06:54 Yeah.