California Prisons COVID-19 Outbreaks, San Diego Extends Eviction Moratorium, City Approves Sale Of Mission Valley Stadium To San Diego State
KPBS Midday Edition / July 1, 2020
PHOTO BY ERIC RISBERG / AP
California spends more on inmates’ health than any other state, but is still seeing raging COVID-19 outbreaks in its prison system. Plus, the eviction moratorium in the city of San Diego has been extended until the end of September. Also, the city has finalized the sale of the Mission Valley stadium site to San Diego State University. And, the conversation about defunding school police departments continues. Finally, the pandemic has left the asylum process at a standstill, and many asylum seekers are stuck in limbo at the border.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Newsome says fireworks and family gathering should be avoided. This 4th of July
Speaker 2: 00:05 Patriotism, at least in a COVID-19 environment can be expressed a little bit differently.
Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Mark Sauer, and this is KPBS day edition. The SDSU mission Valley stadium deal receives its final approval. In August. They're going to start construction clearing the site and getting it ready for the stadium. And also concurrently there'll be doing the river park. San Diego extends its eviction moratorium and approves funding for rent relief. And the KPBS podcast only here brings us audio diaries from immigrants trapped in a frozen asylum system. That's ahead on mid day edition, governor Gavin Newsome expanded restrictions on some of the reopened areas of the state today during his daily COVID-19 update, he says state beach parking lots will be closed this weekend in an effort to cut down on the number of beach goers, but the beaches themselves will remain open. Other restrictions announced by the governor applied to the 19 counties on the state's COVID-19 watch list. Imperial and Los Angeles counties are on that watch list. But San Diego County is not in those affected counties, indoor operations of restaurants, movies, and museums will be prohibited for at least three weeks.
Speaker 2: 01:39 We want to again, remind each and every one of you and that if we want to be independent from COVID-19, uh, we have to be much more vigilant in terms of maintaining our physical distancing from others and be much more vigilant as it relates to the prospects of being in situations where, uh, we are transmitting COVID-19.
Speaker 1: 02:05 The governor also announced the formation of a new strike team made up of agencies overseeing different industries to enforce COVID-19 restrictions and safety guidelines. Meanwhile, a sad truth is emerging in the coronavirus pandemic. It appears that many of the worst predictions are coming true. Experts said the virus could spike significantly when stay at home orders were lifted. Added has officials feared, many people would disregard safety measures like masks and social distancing. And they did now predictions about the potential of COVID-19 to run rampant within the California prison population also seems to be coming true. The California Senate standing committee on public safety held a hearing this morning on the spread of the virus in state prisons. Here's a clip from state Senator Mike McGuire who represents the district where San Quentin is located.
Speaker 3: 03:01 No, I don't say this lightly, but this is a failure of leadership. This crisis is completely avoidable. The base of the basic proactive actions that could have been initiated back in early June. Uh, simply never happened to the level where success could be achieved.
Speaker 1: 03:23 Joining me is reporter Dan Maureen who's recent article called California prisons are coven hotbeds, despite billion spent on inmate health and it was published by California health line. And Dan, welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. Did you learn anything today from listening to the Senate hearing?
Speaker 4: 03:41 Well, th the hearing will go on much of the day, so more will be learned as it, as it progresses. Um, what, what we know is that this is the senators, particularly the Democrats, um, on this committee. And of course, Sacramento is dominated by Democrats are really angry. Um, several said that they started warning in April about the problem that they saw coming and that the state department of corrections and rehabilitation just did not heed those warnings.
Speaker 1: 04:18 And okay. So where are we now about how many California prisoners have contracted COVID-19 and how does that percentage compare what the state's overall infection
Speaker 4: 04:28 On March 25th? There was one recorded COVID-19 case today, July 1st they're 4,971 COVID-19 cases that have been identified. Now, keep in mind, not every prisoner has been tested, but it's 4,900 out of a population of about 114,000. So we're talking about a rate that is well over 40 per, per thousand and the, in the general population. The latest number is 43 per 1000 inmates. Um, statewide the number is, is about 4.7% per 1000 people. So it's, you know, it's, it's a huge, big problem.
Speaker 1: 05:18 I'd have many prisoners and members of prison staff died.
Speaker 4: 05:22 Uh, well, right now the count of prisoners is 2022 deaths, which is far, far, fewer than have died. And in several other States, Texas of Ohio, but you know, this is a disease that takes a while for people to, to succumb. So I think that 22 will be a small number a month from now. Um, and there have been two staffers who have died one correctional officer and another worker.
Speaker 1: 05:49 And, you know, we may think we know why, but can you remind us specifically why prisons are such dangerous for the transmission of infectious diseases?
Speaker 4: 06:00 Well, presents are, are crowded places in California. State prisons have have 114,000 inmates right now, 34 prisons. And many of them live at live in dormitories. They're double bunked and dormitory. So there's no way to socially distance yourself in a dormitory. Uh, many others live in cells that are, uh, two persons per cell, and these are tiny, tiny cells or 80 square feet or 62 square feet, depending on the prison. Uh, very few of them are in single cells. Uh, and those are the real heavyweights of the people who are the most dangerous to others and people on death row, uh, live one person per cell. Um, so there's, it's very difficult to socially distance, especially in the older presence like San quot, um, which are built in first built in the 19th century. Uh, so it, it just, uh, it, it, it is just spreading. Um, I, and I think they're a bit of a loss. How does stop it? They're certainly trying to stop it at San Quentin, but it's a big problem there.
Speaker 1: 07:08 It seems like the effort to remove at risk prisoners from one facility backfired and is now responsible for the system wide COVID outbreak. Can you explain what happened?
Speaker 4: 07:21 The state prison in Chino is one of the older prisons and it, it had a huge flare up. It was the first that really experienced a bad, bad outbreak. The California department of corrections and rehabilitation decided that one way to solve this problem was to send some inmates who they thought were negative, who did not have, um, uh, COVID. They thought that the way to deal with this was to send them to San Quentin state prison in Marin County, 400 miles away, and to Corcoran state prison in the central Valley, South of Fresno, what happened was some of those inmates were positive. And, uh, lo and behold, there are now huge outbreaks at San Quentin and at Corcoran,
Speaker 1: 08:10 The Donovan correction facility is the closest state prison to San Diego. What's the situation there
Speaker 4: 08:16 At last count. There had only been one inmate at Donovan who had tested positive for COVID and 10 staffers. Most of those staffers have returned to work. So the reality is that the prison system has been able to contain this, uh, to, uh, to some prisons. And, uh, there are 16 prisons, um, that 16 out of the 34 prisons where they haven't detected, uh, coronavirus about getting mates and then eight, like Donovan, which are in single digits.
Speaker 1: 08:50 In addition to moving prisoners from one facility to another, the state has been allowing early release of thousands of prisoners who have less than six months to serve. What's the rationale behind that?
Speaker 4: 09:02 Well, these are people who are going to be released anyway. They are, uh, people who were serving, uh, who had six months or, or less to serve on their sentence. And so in April, the state just sped up their release. They're doing the same thing again. Now there's another effort to release people who have fewer than six months. Um, there are caveats, they can't have had, uh, been convicted of violent or serious crimes or sex crimes or domestic violence. And they have to have a housing plan. One of the concerns of local officials is that as the state prisons and especially County jails release inmates to, uh, basically allow for social distancing, uh, in these facilities that, that worsens the homeless problem, it certainly is the case in the Sacramento area where homelessness is really spiked.
Speaker 1: 09:55 Now, the prison system in California really has been plagued with healthcare delivery problems for years. And as you write in the article, the state now annually spends more on inmate health care than other big States spend on their entire prison systems. So what have you been able to discern are the reasons the prisons haven't been more successful in controlling the spread of,
Speaker 4: 10:19 Okay, well, if you just step back, I mean, it is just extraordinary. California has said lawsuits going back to the year, 1990 over its delivery of mental health care to inmates. There are cases that date back to the middle 1990s, over health care delivery, um, and the U S Supreme court finally in 2011, uh, concluded the California healthcare delivery of mental health care to live delivery, violated the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. So California has been under court orders for more than a decade. And the Supreme court ruling of of nine years ago made clear that the state really had to fix its system and it has tried, and it certainly has spent a ton of money. Uh, three point $6 billion in the coming year is, is what the state intends to spend on healthcare and mental healthcare in the prisons, 3.6 billion. That's what Texas spends for its entire prison system.
Speaker 4: 11:27 You know, there's a whole staff of people who, who monitor healthcare delivery. Um, uh, the, the state prison system is hired psychiatrists and physicians to, uh, improve delivery. Um, and yet here we are, it just shows that prisons in general, it's not just California businesses prisons all around the country and certainly in the federal Bureau of prison, that they are not unlike nursing homes. They're really hard to keep people safe. Even if you have no sympathy for inmates, it's a community problem. It's a community issue. What happens, you know, prisons prisons are built to keep people in not viruses. And so the virus is going to jump outside the prison walls and into the community. And certainly in Marin County, Marin County is feeling, which is where San Quentin is, is feeling the pressure, uh, on its ICU beds. We're it only has 25 beds, ICU beds, and eight of them are taken up by, uh, inmates right now. Um, and then of course staff come and go and they're running the risk. They're going home to their family and families and communities, and they're running the risk of, of spreading it. So, uh, it's not just a corrections issue. It's a public safety issue of public health issue.
Speaker 5: 12:47 The reporter Dan Morain, his article, California prisons are COVID hotbeds. Despite billions spent on inmate health was published by California health line. And Dan, thank you so much.
Speaker 4: 12:58 Well, thank you,
Speaker 5: 13:05 A program to aid, low income San Diego, and struggling to pay their rent during the COVID-19 pandemic was approved unanimously by the San Diego city council yesterday. Joining me to discuss the relief program has KPBS Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen. Andrew. Welcome. Thank you. Mark will give us an overview of this program. It's sponsor originally wanted a lot more money, right?
Speaker 6: 13:26 That's right. So, um, this idea was actually floated as an in concept by a council member, Scott Sherman a few months ago, but then it was, um, council member, Chris ward, uh, who put forward the actual plan about one month ago and be administered by the San Diego housing commission, which manages affordable housing for the city and also the section eight housing voucher program. Um, and you're right ward, uh, actually initially sought about $62 million all, uh, from care Zack from the federal cares act. Um, but the council ultimately balked at, at that number. And I'm also the suggestion that the police and fire departments should get less cares, act funding than the mayor had originally wanted to give them. Um, so ultimately 15.1 million was what, uh, Chris ward could convince the majority of the council to allocate. Um, they're also seeking some philanthropic donations, but we haven't really heard, um, you know, whether those have materialized yet. So
Speaker 5: 14:21 15 million doesn't seem like a lot of money in the city this size who specifically is going to be helped. And how many people are we talking about if they know?
Speaker 6: 14:30 So the program allows for grants of up to $2,000 for any household that lives in a subsidized, low income housing unit. Um, and then up to $4,000 for a household that lives in market rate housing. Um, they have to prove that there's a loss of income due to the, the COVID-19 pandemic and there's priority given to families with children or households that include anyone over 62, the housing commission estimates. It could help about 3,500 households, assuming the maximum number of $4,000 is giving to everyone. So if you figure, you know, a household often is two or three or five, or even 10 people, um, you know, it could help, uh, several times that number of 3,500 households,
Speaker 5: 15:14 Right, and what to a renters need to do to apply.
Speaker 6: 15:18 So the household has to be low income and that's defined as 60% in this scenario, at least as 60% of the area, median income for a family of four, that would be $69,300. So say two parents, each making about 35,000 and, and they've got two kids, there's an initial, a pre qualification phase. So the San Diego housing commission will start accepting applications online. There'll be verifying the household incomes. And, um, after the priority groups are, uh, sort of, uh, given their, um, grants, it would be expanded to other qualifying households until the money runs out
Speaker 5: 15:56 And the moratorium on evicting people for not paying rent that was extended as well. Right?
Speaker 6: 16:02 Yeah. That was the earlier action in yesterday's council meeting. The eviction moratorium was supposed to expire actually at the end of yesterday. So the council extended it just in time. And now it's going to last through September 30th, it applies to both residential tenants and commercial tenants. So businesses that might have been shut down and can't pay their rent and that the inability of rent to pay rent has to be again, somehow linked to the pandemic. It doesn't mean that you can just stop paying rent. It just means that tenants who can't afford the rent, um, you know, are they're seeing their debt, uh, rise every month. And the landlords can't simply kick them out at this time. And the concern was that given that so many people are still unemployed and that so many of those who are unemployed were already living on the edge of homelessness or poverty that keeping people in their homes, even if it's just for a few more months, can prevent this rush of people being forced onto the streets, you know, while we kind of hope and wait for economic recovery
Speaker 5: 17:01 And the moratorium vote, that was, it was close five, four vote. Uh, tell us about the protests, the noise the council's heard from people hit hard by unemployment and financial devastation during the pandemic.
Speaker 6: 17:12 Yeah. One of the interesting side effects of the pandemic is, is how the council has adapted to social distancing with its public comment. So the council chambers are closed to the public and to give testimony before they counsel you just have to call a number and wait in a phone queue. So it's a lot more accessible. And, uh, dozens of people called in about the eviction moratorium yesterday. A there was more than an hour of public testimony, almost all of it was in such, uh, and many of them were tenants themselves who can't afford rent because of, of the pandemic. And so I'm not, it's, you know, it's interesting, I'm not sure that the council would be hearing those voices directly. If everyone who wanted to speak to them still had to go down to city hall, find the council chambers and testify in person.
Speaker 5: 17:54 And the other side of this, of course, are the landlords relying on rent money to pay their bills and provide housing in the first place. Some council members raised that issue during the debate.
Speaker 6: 18:04 Yeah. So as you mentioned, it was a close vote, five to four council members, Barbara Bree, Mark Kersey, Chris, Kate, and Scott Sherman voted against it. And they all cited concerns about landlords, you know, losing their income of collecting rent and potentially not being able to pay their mortgages or maintain their properties, do repairs and things like that.
Speaker 5: 18:25 I imagine this will be a pretty significant issue in the election campaigns, both for mayor and several council seats that are up this November. However, these campaigns go
Speaker 6: 18:34 That's right. Yeah. So Barbara Brie of course, is running for mayor against Todd, Gloria. Uh, she voted against this. She was only Democrat on the council to do so. And so I, you know, listening and reading her campaign emails and things like that. She's very clearly reaching out to Republicans and independence and, um, Gloria Todd, Gloria tweeted his support for the extension. So, um, there's a clear dividing line there in the mayor's race. I haven't seen too much discussion among the council, uh, city council candidates, but, um, it's definitely, uh, no question that the COVID-19 response is very quickly becoming the biggest or one of the biggest campaign issues as we look ahead to November,
Speaker 5: 19:13 I've been speaking with KPBS, Metro reporter, Andrew Bowen. Thanks Andrew. Thank you, Mark.
Speaker 5: 19:24 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Mark Sauer with Maureen Kavanaugh leaders at SDSU and the city of San Diego have completed one of the largest, most complex real estate deals in the city's history. The university has purchased the 135 acre stadium site in mission Valley for more than $88 million. Groundbreaking is now mere weeks away. Joining me to discuss details of the project is reporter Lori Weisberg, who covers tourism and marketing for the San Diego union Tribune. Welcome Lori. Thank you. We'll start with an overview of this agreement. The city council voted eight to one yesterday to approve it. Centerpiece is of course, a new football stadium for the Aztecs. And there's a lot more to the project, right?
Speaker 7: 20:06 Yes, there is. As you pointed out, there's a 35,000 seat, um, football stadium for the Aztecs. Um, they say it could be convertible to, you know, later on to an NFL or soccer, you know, for soccer play. There are also 4,600 housing units, and we should note that that 10% of those under this agreement would be set aside for low income households. So that's about 460 affordable units, 80,000 acres parks and open space. And including included in that is a 34 acre river park. Um, 1.6 million square feet of office and research space. Some of that would be part of this, um, satellite campus for SDSU, uh, 400 hotel rooms and 95,000 square feet of, um, campus retail and another 13,000, um, parking space. So it's, it's a very ambitious project.
Speaker 5: 21:00 Yeah. Your story reflected that today. There's no kidding. It was very big and very complex and negotiations got tense in recent weeks between the city and the university. What do you make of how the process unfolded?
Speaker 7: 21:11 Well, yeah, and we should remind people that this, this, uh, these, um, negotiations went on for 18 months. They were an outgrowth of the 2018, um, initiative that voters approved, um, on the ballot to allow the transfer of a sale of the mission Valley site. So then you have to, then you have to negotiate that plan and that sale agreement, which was not part of the initiative. So there were at times, uh, you know, there was some acrimony, some tension, especially so at the, at the very end because the city attorney's office was on this aisle from the beginning, even though they brought in and they brought in outside counsel to assist with the negotiations. And there were a number of issues that had to do with, um, water utilities that are on this land that they wanted, um, settled because they thought that, um, San Diego could be potentially getting a raw deal related to that.
Speaker 7: 22:05 So anyway, it was, there was like a flurry of last minute negotiations last month, um, to iron out those issues so that they wouldn't scuttle the whole deal. And, um, you know, there was a lot of, um, criticism of the city attorney's office, someone arguing that they were just trying to kill the deal, but ultimately they came to a meeting of the minds and that led to, um, a near unanimous approval of this plan with, um, SDSU. So, um, then the, the negotiations and the persistence of the city attorney's office appeared to have paid off
Speaker 5: 22:38 Now, is this it, are they really going to break ground or could something come up yet to derail this deal?
Speaker 7: 22:44 No, I can't believe how fast this is going. I mean, I shouldn't say fast because we're 18 months in negotiations, but now it's really going fast. I mean, normally we think of escrows going on for several days, months. This is kind of be like an escrow of maybe like two or three days, because the plan is there's now this 30 day waiting period, which is true for any ordinance in under know municipal law in San Diego. And that's to allow for a possible referendum to be filed, but there's been no hint of something like that happening. So, um, the thinking is that at the end of the 30 days, um, the mayor, um, near Faulkner will sign the deal in within a couple of days, escrow will close and then within a week or two in August, they're going to start construction, clearing the site and getting it ready for the stadium and also concurrently they'll be doing the river park. So those are the first two things to expect. And they're saying that that the stadium would be ready for the 2022 football season for the, that's
Speaker 5: 23:46 A really remarkable, the bulldozers will be out there next month. I mean, from, from what the timetable looks like, let's turn to that stadium for a moment. The Aztecs we'll have one more season at the current half century old stadium that's that's been there and what work can be done around that facility in the meantime.
Speaker 7: 24:03 So they, they told me that, um, because the, where the, where the stadium is, the new stadium is going to be built is not on the exact same footprint of a current stadium. So therefore they're saying that they can do this work at the same time that it won't, um, interfere with play at SDCU stadium. So they're, they're gonna go ahead and start constructing it even as well. We'll see when the Astec start playing, um, give the coronavirus, but, um, they say that they can, he can go on concurrently that, that won't be a hindrance to, to building this new football facility.
Speaker 5: 24:41 Right. We've talked about the football stadium in the works, the river park in the works and all, but as you say, 10, 15 years, I mean, there must be some flexibility built in depending on economic conditions needs of the private, uh, demand here, et cetera.
Speaker 7: 24:57 Exactly. So that, you know, they have to form, you know, partnerships with private developers, so selling off opportunities to develop office space, research, space, retail, um, and again, you know, in normal times there might be a lot of demand for that, but we're in this very nebulous period where demand may be, you know, five years off for all we know. So, um, uh, so they'll have to see, and they'll be competing with, you know, other office developers, um, for that space as well.
Speaker 5: 25:29 Right. And of course, so we're in the midst of a severe recession who knows how long that'll go on. It's all gonna play into that. A final question. Now that the deal is done, what does it mean for the future of the university? I mean, growth is the first word that comes to mind.
Speaker 7: 25:43 Right. And I think they saw this as a way. Um, you know, they're, they're constrained obviously growing within the footprint of the campus right now. So they've, they've often referred to this as a satellite campus and the opportunity to become more of a research university. So I think there's, and, and, and more maybe PR potentially student housing. So I think they're seeing this as very much, um, a potential for growth. I mean, I don't have a number of how many more students that they could attract once this is fully developed, but, um, that was a big motivator for pushing for this to give them room to grow where they're constrained right now, where they are located, um, at the campus. Now
Speaker 5: 26:26 I've been speaking with reporter Lee Weisberg of the San Diego union Tribune. Thanks Lori for joining us. Thank you. A movement to defend the San Diego unified school districts police department is formed. It's similar to efforts in other cities in California and elsewhere to get police officers out of schools yesterday, the state superintendent held a hearing with the legislators, police organizations, advocacy groups, and researchers on the impact of police in schools, assembly woman, Shirley Weber, who represents the San Diego area was one of those who participated in that hearing.
Speaker 8: 27:05 Yeah, I served for eight years as a school board member. And so I want to just simply let you know that I've seen some excellent examples of what happens in schools when there are no police officers there. And when that happens, it's generally because the leadership of the school takes control of its school. And I trusted messengers by the kids. They believe in the leadership of the school,
Speaker 5: 27:25 Joining me to discuss the related challenge to police presence in schools is San Diego unified school police, chief Michael Marquez, chief Marquez. Welcome to midday edition. Thank you for having me. Well first, what is the role of your department, uh, on San Diego unified school campuses? What do they do?
Speaker 8: 27:42 You know, we, we play a major role in the security of our schools. We have a number of security issues that face our schools on a daily basis. You know, some examples of that are, you know, we've handled about a thousand threats of violence. Um, in the last five years, 50 of those were threats of, of mass shootings, um, you know, at our schools. And so, you know, first and foremost, you know, our role is to protect our children. Um, and that's the number one reason why we exist. Um, so in addition to those threats, um, we, you know, we are, uh, another important role that we play is investigating, you know, uh, reports of, of human trafficking. You know, I mean, that is something that, uh, that is very, very close to my heart in terms of making sure that we're doing everything we can to protect our kids. And I think we have heard so many horror stories about, you know, children across our nation, um, who have become victims of human trafficking. Uh, it, it certainly requires that we pay very, very close attention and that we're investigating every single report of that.
Speaker 5: 28:52 So your department is 41 sworn officers serving some 200 schools. How do you decide how to deploy officers in schools?
Speaker 8: 28:59 So we did we deploy officers, um, uh, utilizing a cluster model in our, in our view, every high school is a cluster and we make sure that we have staff assigned, um, throughout our entire district. So we have about 18 clusters here at San Diego unified, and we make sure that we have an officer assigned, uh, to each, each and every one of those. And we, um, so not only do we perform, uh, the service of providing security at the high schools, but also in middle schools and elementary schools,
Speaker 5: 29:29 And research has shown the interactions with school. Police can have disproportionately negative outcomes for black and Latino students. How does your department monitor the impact it's having on certain communities within school district? Well,
Speaker 8: 29:42 You know, I think that that's an, that's an important fact for us to continuously work through. And I think that speaks to how important it is, especially for me the leader of this police department, to make sure that we're hiring the right people to work in a school environment. We screen every single applicant. We make sure that the people that were, that we're bringing into this environment, um, actually want to work with schools. That's very, very important because our kids request should get the best service that we can provide them. And, and so I'm always looking for people that have, you know, coaching experience working with use or pastors, uh, working with youth. And there are times where our vacancies will remain vacant until we can find the right person to work in those environment.
Speaker 5: 30:31 And I wanted to ask about specifics and data, uh, on the race of students that you have negative interactions with say arrests, uh, how do you break those down regarding race,
Speaker 8: 30:41 Every arrest or detention? I shouldn't say detention. Um, since we're talking about children, we do memorialize, um, that, uh, in the form of, of reports. Um, and it's something that we is, is ultimately captured. And we do have that. We are, we do have that available to us
Speaker 5: 30:59 And the officers are uniformed in the schools, right?
Speaker 8: 31:02 Our officers are uniformed in our schools and we do drive black and white police cars. We are a fully accredited police department. All of our officers go through the same type of police Academy that you would find a municipal police officer going through. We have all the same type of trainings. Uh, in fact, uh, one thing that I think is important for us to understand is that, you know, all of our officers who work in an educational environment are expected to have specialized training. So we understand that our children's brains are still developing. It's important that we understand that as this it's important that we have restorative justice training, that we have training regarding human trafficking and internet crimes against children, um, that we understand what autism awareness is and what ProAct training is. And so all of our officers that work here at this department of San Diego unified are expected to have that training so that we can better understand the students that we're working with. Our officers understand what IEP is are, and what five Oh four is, are in special education. That's so important for us to understand so that when we're responding to a school for a call for service, that we can, um, make sure that we're putting our best foot forward and that we're putting kids first and that we're working with every one of our school departments and our communities to make sure that our children are getting the best service that they need.
Speaker 5: 32:21 And because of past interactions with police or witnessing negative interactions with police black and Brown students may be uncomfortable and uneasy around police, not just school police, police in general, how does your department address that?
Speaker 8: 32:34 Well, you know, something that's important is that to, you know, our officers reflect the diversity of our, um, our, our police department is majority minority, 55%, you know, and they're, and they're led by Hispanic chief of police. Um, so that's something that's, that's important for us to all understand because, you know, we are the community we do come from our community. Some of our officers have graduated from San Diego unified. So I think that's important to know
Speaker 5: 33:00 You mentioned protection against mass shootings. Of course, that's been in the news headlines, unfortunately for many years now, a research is inconclusive on the effectiveness of officers on campus to prevent mass shootings. What does your department do in terms of preventing mass shootings and the training there
Speaker 8: 33:16 Take a very, very proactive role in that we have a safe school unit that works with each and every one of our school administrators and our communities to make sure that our comprehensive safe school plans are updated each and every year, um, in accordance with the law. Um, we're also very, very much involved in training to make sure that our staff knows how to respond to those types of crisis. Um, and so that's, that's very, very important for, for all of us to understand is that, you know, we take those types of things very, very seriously, and we want to make sure that our not only our officers, but our staff are prepared to respond to those types of situations.
Speaker 5: 33:58 And there's a workshop with the school board later this month here from students on issues of racial justice and inequity. Uh, one of the topics includes how to prevent discriminatory practices related to student discipline. What's your department's role in the workshop going to be
Speaker 8: 34:13 Well again, good question. And I'm really excited because we're going to, we plan to be a part of the conversation. Um, and I think it really speaks volumes about how our district handles these types of things. We're looking forward to participating in the workshop and being a part of the conversation down the road.
Speaker 5: 34:30 What kind of changes you might see as possibilities for your department, the following that, that workshop and this kind of interaction,
Speaker 8: 34:38 They will say that, uh, you know, I mean, there's so much conversation right now, nationally, uh, about this topic. Um, and there's so many different stories that are served as seen, uh, there's so much reform that has taken place. And, and I'd like to say that, you know, we're, we're a part of that. Um, you know, we have already banned some of the carotid restraint. We've already adopted a camp weight. Um, we've already updated our policies regarding the use of force. And so I think we're, we're, we're already in line and in alignment with the vision of this district and with the vision of law enforcement in this County. And then we plan on continuing that type of work. You know, we're law enforcement is always willing to listen and now's the time to take action.
Speaker 5: 35:22 I've been speaking with Michael Marquez, chief of the San Diego unified schools, police department. Thanks very much, Michael. Thank you, sir.
Speaker 9: 35:37 [inaudible]
Speaker 10: 35:40 The perception that the us Mexico border has been effectively sealed shut because of the COVID-19 pandemic is wrong. Lots of people are still crossing to see the biggest and most dramatic change and who can't cross right now. You have to look inside T one is migrant shelters. There you'll find refugees who can't seek asylum in the U S and are instead stuck in border towns in a new episode of KPBS border podcast. Only here host Allan Lilienthal speaks to a migrant stuck at the border and a doctor trying to help.
Speaker 11: 36:15 So it was just a leaving work here at all of you medical center. This is one of the emergency departments where I work in Los Angeles. I'm heading to my car through the parking lot and our MRI camper to start my journey down to Tijuana
Speaker 10: 36:37 For people like dr. Hannah Janeway, the border was never closed. The pandemic has actually made her trips to the [inaudible] even more necessary than ever. We asked her to record herself on her phone as she made the trip. One day in may.
Speaker 11: 36:51 I'm just getting in my car now in the parking lot of olive, you finally get to take off this mask. Let me talk today.
Speaker 10: 37:02 Hannah's an emergency room doctor in LA. So most months she spends a week or so working at a few different emergency rooms there. Then the following week, she drives to the Quanta. So she can volunteer at health clinics for migrants.
Speaker 11: 37:19 So the trip to Tijuana from my house usually takes about two hours and 15 minutes when there's no traffic.
Speaker 10: 37:34 Yeah. [inaudible] has currently quarantined at a shelter for migrants in the Quanah with her husband, two of her daughters and her grandson [inaudible] Dellia says her family left behind their pig, farming Guerrero. After her daughter's ex-boyfriend grew increasingly aggressive for obvious reasons. We can't fact check Delea story. We're taking it at face value, but her story is very similar to lots of stories from migrants and nothing. She said gave us doubt. [inaudible] Delea says her daughter was dating a man who was involved with one of the big Mexican drug cartels. We're not using deli as last name or the name of the shelter where she staying to protect her from the cartels reach. Delea says the boyfriend physically and sexually abusing her daughter. At one point, he threatened to kill her and her whole family.
Speaker 11: 38:53 [inaudible]
Speaker 10: 38:54 Eventually things got so bad there. Leah says her daughter tried to kill herself by overdosing on pills. They got her to the hospital after finding her unconscious. She just barely survived.
Speaker 11: 39:21 [inaudible]
Speaker 10: 39:23 Delia sent her daughter to wether Lahara. After the suicide attempt, she thought she'd be safe there. But she says the boyfriend found her daughter and forced her to go back to the rata with him. That was it. That was the moment they knew they had to flee
Speaker 11: 39:42 The abdominals. I got it wrong. [inaudible] but [inaudible]
Speaker 10: 39:53 The family left in the middle of the night. They, Leah says they got on a plane to the Quanah and they left so quickly that they had to leave almost everything they owned behind. She was able to sell a few of the pigs off before they left, but the rest got left trapped in their pins. She assumes most of the pigs are gone now. Muertos
Speaker 11: 40:17 [inaudible]. Yeah. [inaudible]
Speaker 10: 40:26 When the family arrived in the Quanah, they went straight to the port of entry without having any idea how the asylum process works from there, they were sent to a different office where they were put into the system and given a number. She says they weren't given a day to return. Her husband has called back several times. Each time they say they can't give him a return date or any other information right now
Speaker 11: 40:56 [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] Today. Actually, my journey is going to be partially interrupted by a stop in long beach, where I'm going to be working or helping to volunteer as a street medic for the black lives matter protest. And then when that finishes, I'll be headed down to Tijuana.
Speaker 10: 41:29 Hannah is in her thirties, her hair is mostly cut short, but a mop of curls spills down from the top of her head. She spent a lot of her college years studying abroad in Latin America. So she speaks perfect Spanish and loves Latin culture. Henna is not one of the medical professionals behind the refugee health Alliance. And Dahlia is part of the population of migrants in Tijuana who Hannah served.
Speaker 11: 41:51 So it's now 8:25 PM. I just got back to my car and I'm headed to the freeway in long beach. I spent the last few hours at the protest, um, providing medical aid and standing on the front line, trying to prevent the police from escalating their level of violence with protesters, but things were getting increasingly violent and I have to make it down to the border. So I decided to leave one of my colleagues. Who's also an emergency medicine doctor and who was with me and ended up getting shot by a rubber bullet and has a big, huge Weldon his rest, but he's okay. And we treated a bunch of other people with minor wounds and injuries that we saw. Um, so I'm hoping that everyone else stays safe, but I have to make it down to the border tonight because I have to be at our clinic tomorrow. So off I go,
Speaker 10: 42:56 The refugee health Alliance is a young nonprofit that's sprung up in the Quana to meet the medical needs of the recent influx of migrants seeking asylum over the last few years, lots of people from central America and elsewhere have been showing up here at the border with dreams of finding safety in the U S but they've been getting stuck in Tijuana and other Mexican border tones. And many of them depend on HANA and an army of volunteers like her for their safety and really for their very survival.
Speaker 11: 43:26 So I'm about halfway there. I'm making a pit stop at a supermarket to buy some things that we need for the clinic, um, and to grab a bite to eat. Uh, it's funny about five minutes ago, I passed a sign on the freeway that said that travel across the us Mexico border is limited, which is certainly not the case.
Speaker 10: 43:48 So yeah, like I said earlier, the border is not closed the way most people think, but at the same time, it is close to this one set of very vulnerable people to be very clear. The biggest impact of the pandemic at the border has been on migrants, seeking asylum.
Speaker 11: 44:06 People have been trapped at the border for, you know, up to two years. They come, then they're metered, they're waiting for their number. They cross, they get sent back under MPP. You know, all those things are like over a year and a half. Generally the shelters are crowded and you know, you're sleeping in a tent on the floor many times or there's other, you know, there's bed bugs and there's scabies. And it's just not, not a place that you really want to be for any longer than you absolutely need to be. Once COVID arrives, everyone in the shelter is going to get it.
Speaker 1: 44:41 And that was dr. Hannah Janeway talking with Allen Lillian Thall about her work in a Tiwan clinic, helping migrants trapped at the border to hear the rest of the story. Listen to only here at kpbs.org/only hear or search for only here, wherever you get your podcasts.