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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

More Closures As Coronavirus Surges, San Diego Unified Goes Online For Fall, And Community Conversation: The Future Of Policing

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY ALEXANDER NGUYEN

Above: A woman sitting inside Seth's Chop Shop hair salon in Ocean Beach on May 29, 2020, with a sign displaying COVID-19 safety measures.

As coronavirus cases surge in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered closures of gyms, salons, churches and other indoor operations. What has to happen before the closures are reversed? Plus, defying President Trump, San Diego Unified and LAUSD — California’s two largest school districts — announced they start the school year with distance learning. After the police killing of George Floyd demonstrators in San Diego took to the streets to call for change. But can community members and law enforcement in San Diego agree on what reform measures and policy changes are necessary?

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego hunkers down again. As many indoor businesses are ordered closed,

Speaker 2: 00:05 Right? If we don't retain control of the spread of coronavirus, it threatens the entirety of our economy.

Speaker 1: 00:11 I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Mark sour. This is KPBS day edition. The County revises COVID testing guidelines because supplies are getting tight. San Diego unified prepares to get back to school online. And we'll bring you highlights from last night's KPBS community forum on policing

Speaker 2: 00:38 The so-called reforms. If you actually read them, don't sound much like reforms to me at all. If anything, it sounds like, um, a statement saying that they're already doing things correctly. They'll continue to do things correctly.

Speaker 1: 00:52 That, and more ahead on midday edition,

Speaker 1: 01:00 San Diego was forced to take a step back on Monday as governor Gavin Newsome ordered all indoor operations in gyms, houses of worship non-critical office businesses, hair salons, and personal care services to close. Once again, the move was prompted by a continuing increase in COVID-19 cases. The overall number of cases in San Diego County passed the 20,000 Mark on Monday as cases spike the need for testing increases, but San Diego health officials also had some bad news on that topic. Yesterday, San Diego's testing capacity is decreasing because of an overburdened supply chain. The result County testing will be reserved for people who have symptoms and not for anyone who wants one. Joining me is KPBS health reporter, Taran, mento, and Taran. Welcome to the program. Thanks Maureen. Now, San Diego, wasn't the only County in California that had to take a step back and reopening how much of the state was also impacted.

Speaker 1: 02:02 Yeah, it's more than three quarters of the state's population. About 80%. There's about 29 counties give or take a few as more might be added, but all of the counties in Southern California, LA orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, we're all on there. How are our County officials responding to the governor's order? Well, yesterday's a news conference supervisor, Nathan Fletcher acknowledged the hardship that these businesses are experiencing. You know, they were only just recently allowed to reopen. After months of shutdown, probably had to spend a lot of money getting these safety measures in place to be able to open safely. And now they're being closed down again. So he, he acknowledged that it is a hardship, um, but he felt it was necessary because if we take these measures now, um, to protect public health, it could also protect our county's fiscal health in the long run

Speaker 2: 02:53 Rest assured I don't believe that anyone takes any, any steps lightly. And it is with a great sense of understanding that if we don't retain control of the spread of coronavirus, it threatens the entirety of our economy. Uh, and so these are unfortunate steps, uh, steps that we're certainly gonna have a negative economic impact on your business. Uh, but the things that the state of California believes we must do in order to reign in control of the spread, uh, so that we can hopefully resume and be in a good position. Moving forward,

Speaker 3: 03:21 Supervisor Jim Desmond has been a vocal opponent to the shutdown orders. Um, he was very against it. It's another round of shutdowns and, and was critical because he said, you know, hospitalizations in San Diego County has not been increasing, even though the governor has been saying statewide, they've been increasing. And this is kind of the issue because shutdown orders from Fletcher's perspective are intended to prevent the virus from spreading so much that we are overwhelming our healthcare system with hospitalization. So Fletcher did acknowledge that sometimes these shut down orders are coming before they're painfully obvious what has to happen before these closures can be reversed. So in San Diego County, we have to significantly reduce the spread, the community spread that's the trigger or the metric that the state is tracking. That seems to go County has been flagged for it's our case rate. So the state wants case rates to be, you know, no more than 100 per 100,000 residents.

Speaker 3: 04:18 San Diego is about one, one 37 per 100,000. So we would have to significantly reduce the spread of infections in the community in order to, um, for the state to reevaluate and lift these restrictions. But right now, as all we know is that they are there in place indefinitely previously, when we just had that first round of closures was supposed to be after three weeks, we'll reassess. All we know now at this point is that it's indefinitely. And why are we back in this situation with a limited number of COVID tests, right? This goes back to those supply chain issues that we heard about, you know, way early in the pandemic, because we are seeing cases, uh, surge, not just in senior County, not just in California, but in a couple of other key States in the country, you know, Texas, Arizona, and Florida, or some of those that have been mentioned when you have more people testing positive, you have more people that are seeking test.

Speaker 3: 05:09 Um, there's more demand. And then that means that resources become limited as more States and jurisdictions are trying to meet this demand because we've also scaled up our testing. So we've had a greater demand. We have a larger volume of testing that was being offered, but a greater need and therefore limited resources being distributed across these States where we're seeing surges. And one of you heard, what has it been like in recent days for people trying to get tested at County sites here in San Diego? So the director of health and human services, Nick meshy on himself has said, some people have had to wait five to seven days just to get an appointment. Um, you know, and then some people are talking about five to seven days longer to get results. You're talking about from the time you get tested at the time that you know, whether you have virus to be about two weeks.

Speaker 3: 05:59 And I know I spoke to a local protest organizer who actually went to not a County cause I went to CVS and it took 11 days, including weekends, 11 days to get her results back. This is being kind of a, a leg affecting, not just County sites, but other sites as well. What exactly are the new guidelines for getting a County test? Right? So one of the ways that the County is trying to address this as limiting, um, those individuals who can sign up for an appointment at the county's, um, testing sites. And so that's going to be limited to symptomatic people. Previously, people could get a test, no matter what their symptoms were, but now it's less limited to symptomatic individuals and high risk people. So people who are asymptomatic, but may work in a healthcare setting or may have a chronic disease, or may be in a nursing care and nursing facility, um, where we we've known a lot of outbreaks to, to be linked back to. I've been speaking with KPBS health reporter, Teran, mento, and Taran. Thank you. Thanks Maureen.

Speaker 4: 07:02 After months of grappling with the vexing challenge of reopening schools in a pandemic San Diego unified shut down, the idea of returning to classrooms for now, the school year will start as the last one finished online. Joining me to examine the details of this decision is KPBS education reporter Joe Hong, Joe, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. We'll start with the decision itself. It was made in conjunction with the LA school district and instruction. We'll start on August 31st as originally planned, but what were some of the factors cited preventing students and teachers from going back into classrooms now? So the two main things that a district cited were the rising infection rates. They want to see a consistent drop in case numbers before reopening schools. And the second component was testing capacity. Um, the districts don't feel like that the local governments are providing enough COVID tests to safely reopen. Ideally you want to have on demand testing for both students and staff. I spoke with Richard Berrera who's on the school board, and here's what he gets.

Speaker 3: 08:08 The countries that we see schools reopening are countries that have brought the virus under control until we do that as a society, we're going to continue to be in this situation where schools are having to balance risks, that we shouldn't be trying to balance.

Speaker 4: 08:26 And how many students are affected by this decision and our students at charter schools in the same boat. Yeah. So Ella unified in San Diego unified are the two biggest, and it's more than 700,000 students who are going to be affected by this decision, both at traditional schools, as well as charter schools and some other local districts have made similar decisions already, is it likely most will follow San Diego Unified's lead on this? Uh, we're sort of across the spectrum right now. I mean, between San Diego unified and Ella unified, just geographically there's, uh, orange County, uh, where that school district has, you know, is pushing forward with reopening and is not even a requiring masks. So there's really no sort of way to tell where all of these districts are gonna land.

Speaker 5: 09:19 Now, this obviously will have a direct impact on jobs, the San Diego economy, the prospect of parents returning to work or trying to work from home if possible. Uh, it seems too soon to really understand all the implications of this decision. Right,

Speaker 4: 09:33 Right. But I think educators right now they're really, they're really emphasizing the fact that opening schools really is the foundation to effectively rebooting the economy. And so if we want to reopen schools, it's really going to take a community effort to lower these infection rates, uh, through social distancing. And, you know, just kind of going back to where we were, uh, in the earlier months of this pandemic.

Speaker 5: 10:00 Now this decision by two of the nation's largest school districts goes directly against the insistence by president Trump and education, secretary Betsy DeVos to reopen classrooms immediately, they threatened her withhold federal funding. Is that a major concern for local districts and making this decision?

Speaker 4: 10:17 Yeah. So look, I think educators right now are really focused on listening to the experts and the scientists to figure out once reopened schools and that political pressure doesn't seem like, uh, something that's gonna really work. Um, just because student safety and teacher safety is what comes first. And federal funding really makes up about 10% of overall school funding. So it wouldn't be a huge hit for San Diego unified. And again, uh, when you compare that to the risk to public health and safety, it's, it's, you know, not even really a question for them,

Speaker 5: 10:55 The district is upfront about how disappointing this is for everybody. Uh, what are they saying about when it might be possible to return to the classroom in some way?

Speaker 4: 11:04 Right. So at San Diego unified, they've teamed up with UC San Diego and public health experts there to sort of come up with a localized plan for when it'll be safe to reopen. Because, you know, as we all know, there's guidances coming from the federal government, the state government and local County governments, and it can be tough to sort of reconcile all that. So, uh, by August 10th, uh, the team at San Diego unified, uh, in partnership with UCLA should have a better idea of when the schools will be able to reopen. Um, and if not, at the very least, they'll have a better understanding of what needs to happen before schools can reopen what case numbers need to look like, what hospitalization numbers need to look like and things like that. I've been speaking KPBS education

Speaker 5: 11:54 Reporter Joe Hong. Thanks, Joe. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 12:03 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Mark Sauer for the first time. And on-duty San Diego law enforcement officer has been arraigned on charges of murder in connection with an officer involved shooting former San Diego County Sheriff's deputy Aaron Russell faces. Second degree murder charges for the shooting death of Nicholas bills. Last may. The district attorney's office says Bill's escape custody and was running away at the time of the shooting. Aaron Russell was arraigned in superior court this morning. He pleaded not guilty. Here's deputy district attorney Steven market.

Speaker 6: 12:39 The defendant fired five rounds while Nicholas Bill's who was running, not toward, but away from the officers on scene. No other officer on scene, as much as unholstered a firearm to stop those from running those officers either assess the situation, call for backup and or pursued Nicholas bills on foot

Speaker 1: 12:58 And it's complaint. The district attorney cited a law that went into effect in January authored by San Diego assembly woman, Shirley Webber that allows police to use lethal force only when necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious injury to officers or bystanders. Russell's bail was reduced to half a million dollars. He will be back in court on July 24th.

Speaker 5: 13:22 These charges against a white, former Sheriff's deputy for killing an unarmed white suspect come as demonstrators in San Diego and across the nation call for police reform in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis in recent weeks, the San Diego police department took action. It banned the controversial carotid restraint, neck hold. And more recently it introduced a standalone deescalation policy as well as a new requirement that police officers intervene. When a fellow officer uses excessive force, San Diego voters will weigh in on a ballot measure this fall to grate an independent panel that would investigate officer misconduct, but can these policies create the change that some in the community are looking for? And where does the movement to change policing go from here, we'll explore those questions and the special broadcast of KPBS and the national conflict resolution centers, community conversation on the future of policing in San Diego, San Diego city, council, woman, Monica, Montgomery, Khalida, Alexander founder, and president of pillars of the community, a social justice organization, and detective Jack Schafer, president of the San Diego police officers association. The union that represents officers within the San Diego police department joined the conversation led by KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, sir.

Speaker 1: 14:46 So I wanted to start with a question for all of you. There have been some recent

Speaker 7: 14:52 Attempts at reforming the San Diego police department. Um, as I mentioned for each of you say, whether those changes are enough and if not, what is another specific change you think should be made? And we can start with you council, woman.

Speaker 8: 15:08 Um, thank you for the question, Claire. Um, I know, I don't think that they are enough. I think that we are making progress. And when I say, I don't think there are enough, that's not to say that I'm, um, I am happy about the progress that we may, but we have so much time to make up for, we have to, um, exhibit a cultural change within the department within the city. And, you know, we cannot be, um, stagnant with this type of movement. So I would say, no, I acknowledge the progress, but I would say we definitely have a lot more to do.

Speaker 7: 15:45 Is there a specific thing that, that you would like to see changed going forward?

Speaker 8: 15:51 Uh, quite a few. Um, we'll be looking at, um, a surveillance ordinance on a Wednesday at the public safety livable neighborhoods committee in the fall. We're going to take up, um, uh, another, uh, ordinance that has to do with how we control, um, the stops that are heading, uh, contacts, um, how we be doing those, um, well while keeping the public safe. And so there are quite a few things, but I think overall, um, this is my work is to change policy, but also to, uh, change hearts, to change minds, to change how we interact with each other. Just generally speaking, I can put all the policies in the world, uh, on paper and we can get them passed. But if, uh, interactions do not change, it really doesn't matter if we reward the same behavior, even though those policies are there, then it won't matter. So it's, we need to do all of those things.

Speaker 7: 16:44 How about you, um, mr. Alexander, are there, have there reforms been enough and if not, what's a specific thing that you would want to change going forward?

Speaker 9: 16:53 Absolutely not. I mean, in fact, the so-called reforms, if you actually read them, don't sound much like reforms to me at all. Um, if anything, it sounds like, um, a statement saying that they're already doing things correctly. They'll continue to do things correctly. And then it's filled with a bunch of legal jargon that can be used as loopholes for, uh, almost like a blueprint for police to be able to explain why they did what they did without getting in trouble. So they said, you know, uh, reforms that they're talking about about DSG, supposedly deescalation policies, um, and, um, encouraging police to turn on one another when they do, uh, when they violate people's rights, um, you know, is, is, is, is, you know, doesn't even approach lip service for me. Um, if I was going to say that, you know, what needs to be done, I mean, first of all, there needs to be an acknowledgement that racial profiling even exists.

Speaker 9: 17:50 Like I don't think up until now, uh, the police chief, um, or, you know, some or Stephens or any of kind of law enforcement's representatives have come out publicly and acknowledge that racial profiling exists. This is despite, you know, the overwhelming feeling from the community, as well as a San Diego state university report, uh, ACL documentation, uh, tons of documentation. And so unless we can begin to have a, a shared foundation to have the conversation, I'm not sure, uh, what type of reforms they seen having. And then the last thing that I'll say is even the conversation around reforms needs to change. So for example, um, NCRC mentioned kind of their attempts to create an environment that helps navigate through cultural differences. We're not talking about cultural differences here. When we talk about racial profiling. When we talk about the abuse of everyday people walking down the street by law enforcement, that's not a cultural difference.

Speaker 9: 18:47 Um, if, if, if people in the Hoya, if people in largely white and affluent communities were treated the same way that community members in Southeast San Diego were treated treated, um, I don't think anybody would dismiss it as a cultural difference. Nobody likes being molested by police. Nobody likes being misspoken to by police. Nobody likes being disrespected by police. Nobody likes being hassled by police. So it's not a cultural conversation it's that there has to be a stop to the culture of law enforcement to take advantage of and disrespect black and Brown people in our community.

Speaker 7: 19:18 Mr. Shaffer, I don't know. Do you want to first just start by saying, if you feel like these changes have been enough, and if there are changes that you see that you want to be made or that the police officers you represent want to be made

Speaker 9: 19:33 Well, I'm, I don't think it's ever really enough. I think if we're not striving to get better, um, you know, we're, we're going to end up falling behind. So, um, I agree with what both the previous speakers, um, that we need to look at things, look at things that can actually work, um, try to implement the things that have been, um, successful in other places. Um, but you know, my, my opinion is that if we're not always trying to find a better way to do things, um, that we'll be stuck back in 1950s and we don't want to be there. You know what I mean? So, um, I feel I'm fortunate that to be a member of San Diego police department, because we have been pretty progressive and doing a lot of things, probably leading the country in a lot of things, but that doesn't mean that we're, um, by any means perfect. And we do have a lot of work to do. Um, and I think having some of these discussions, um, can lead to some of those revelations that might lead to maybe the next best way of doing things.

Speaker 7: 20:29 Is there a specific thing that you think of that, you know, you would like to see changed?

Speaker 9: 20:34 Yeah. I can't think of one thing off the top of my head, but I haven't heard a lot of really good ideas from community members and others weeks.

Speaker 7: 20:41 Councilman Montgomery, the move to defund policing is continuing to spread the country. And recently you were criticized by some community members for voting in favor of a city budget that did not include a hundred million dollar cut to police funding, but you've asked for an independent analysis of police funding. So what specifically do you think could be cut from the police budget? And do you think you could get those cuts passed by the council and the mayor?

Speaker 8: 21:08 Um, Claire, that's exactly why I asked for that deep dive into the police budget, which is something that the city has not done. Um, and so I believe in diverting, um, the Alec V allocating resources, uh, to, to further causes that really, uh, keep us that keep us safe. I do believe that a law enforcement component, um, in exactly the way that it serves now. Um, but I also believe that we do spend too much on this type of public safety. And I think there are so many other mechanisms that can keep us safe. I had a, I have a constituent that is having some issues in our neighborhood, but she doesn't want her son to be profiled. So she doesn't want to call the police. And so we have community members that can step in in situations like that that will keep everyone safe.

Speaker 8: 22:01 Um, and so those are the types of things we're looking into develop the plan for that, um, asked for the deep dive into the police department, because really, I still don't know where everything goes. And in order for me to make the decisions, the thoughtful decisions that I think my community deserves, I need to have that information on top of that. Uh, council did recently, um, when we passed the appropriations order, this, we did set aside about $29 million to be reviewed at the mid year. Um, and so that gives us an opportunity and some time, um, to, to get the information that we need so we can have an impactful, um, make an impactful decision.

Speaker 7: 22:40 Mr. Alexander, I know you and other activists have called for abolishing the police department entirely, fully, and starting over hiring new officers with new policies. So when smaller cuts to the department, um, would that satisfy you?

Speaker 9: 22:56 It wouldn't satisfy me, but it would be a nice appetizer. I mean, I'm not at all opposed to reform on the road towards abolition. Um, if you look at the amount of money that the police are getting, I think it's San Diego city alone is something close to $600 million. Um, I have no problem with taking some of that $600 million and putting it into programs that will actually, um, work towards preventing crime, as opposed to putting it into a police department whose basically sole responsibility is reacting to crime. So unless we take a more proactive approach by investing into communities, um, you know, I don't think we'll ever get to the area of abolition. And I think the more that we invest, um, in communities, the less prime we'll have and the less crime we have, the less, the majority of people will see, um, a need or a use for, uh, police officers. Mr. Schaefer, the

Speaker 7: 23:46 Analysis that we referenced at the start of this, um, that I did, uh, was a local police department records. And it showed that police when they use force on a suspect, if the suspect is a person of color, they're more likely to shoot than if the suspect is white. How would you explain this disparity?

Speaker 10: 24:06 Well, it's pretty complex, but, um, mostly, um, uses of force are not dictated usually by the officers are dictated by the person that's, that's being contacted with the subject. Um, we, we act to whatever is done in front of us. Um, and I think that, um, you know, I think they mentioned it earlier, but it's pretty rare that any force at all is used, um, especially using a firearm, um, especially, you know, when you compare it to how many contacts we have per year of people. Um, but again, you know, the officers can only react to whatever's put in front of them. Um, everybody, you know, we have the, uh, we give commands, we tell people what to do to, to not make us need to use force. Um, but sometimes they don't do that. And then we have to do what we need to do to, to effect an arrest or do whatever else we needed to do.

Speaker 7: 24:54 Council member Montgomery. Does that explanation satisfy you?

Speaker 8: 24:59 Here's what I know. I know that officers, uh, tell me, uh, that they are told to treat people that are in, uh, North of the eight different than South of the eight that's. That's what I know. And those are for people who are on the ground. And so it goes back to what I said, which is how do we interact with each other? We live in America, the, you know, law enforcement started off athletic patrol. So when, uh, mr. Alexander talks about an acknowledgement of racism, this is what we're talking about, that, you know, people of color are treated differently, even when those commands are made. Um, even when there is, um, you know, a behavior shift in the contact, you know, I am not satisfied with it. Um, Jack and I have had these conversations, I've seen it, I lived it. And I've also been told by officers that this is what goes on on the inside. So I think that, that, that definitely needs to change that everyone should be treated the same. And that's, you know, again, we have 400, 400 years to make up for, and we have, um, a foundation of our law enforcement that is rooted in that type of racism. And so we do have to talk about that, um, for sure. And there needs to be an admission of that

Speaker 7: 26:23 When you have those conversations, is it about, is it a training issue? Is it, what, what are the things that, that you're looking for, or to address that disparity?

Speaker 8: 26:36 I am looking for resolution and understand understanding the training. I'll never going to say we don't need training. Uh, but this is a, this really is a matter of the heart and the way we see each other, when we do talk about like a place like Camden, who dismantled their department and built it back up over a period of time, um, probably what they were doing when they were building it back up as assessing these types of things, these types of bias, um, uh, biases. And so we, um, we do need to do that. I don't, I don't know, it's, it's really deep. So I don't know if this training will, uh, will solve that, you know? Um, so mr. Alexander, are there things that, that you would be looking for specifically?

Speaker 9: 27:19 Well, I mean, with all due respect to Jack, I mean, just the language that he's saying to, to put the onus on the victim of police violence, that, that violence that has been perpetrated against them, um, is somehow this, their fault is again, is, is exactly why there's such a disconnect between the community itself and, and police officers, somebody with a gun, somebody with taser, somebody with pepper spray, somebody who has absolute power to do whatever they want to, to you. That's the person who needs to be held accountable, uh, for the violence, not the person who the violence is being perpetrated against. And I think it's just an example that, you know, the police aren't interested in form in reform. What they're interested in is, um, the freedom to act with impunity, to be able to do whatever they want to, to our community members and have nobody questioned it.

Speaker 9: 28:07 Um, you know, uh, the, the, the, the misnomer of police unions or the fact that you have police unions, whose job is to represent, uh, uh, police officers and, and to fight for police officers who molest people in searches, who abused people, physically who abused people, mentally, who abused people verbally, and their job is to advocate for them to stay in the police department, um, is a perfect example of, of how severe and how prop, how problematic the entire system is. And so that's when people like me and other people look at the police department, we say, look, how can we even begin to have a conversation if our humanity and our, uh, ability to say, Hey, we're being victimized here. Isn't even recognized by the people who are perpetrating that violence.

Speaker 8: 28:51 Mr. Shaffer, do you want to respond to that?

Speaker 9: 28:53 I think that, um, the issue is I, and I, and I've heard the narrative basically that the unions are bad because we're trying to protect people. Um, and I don't see it really as that. I think people like me and, and unions can, can actually be part of the solution in that we're, you know, nobody wants to get rid of, um, people that aren't doing the right thing more than people that are doing the right thing, right. As far as police officers. Um, but you know, our, our job is just to make sure that they have due process just like anybody else. It doesn't mean that we're trying to save them on the job. Um, it's very different. Um, um, the reality is very different than that. Um, I have a job to do, and, uh, but all it is is to make sure that just like any American that people would get their due process. Um, but, but that said, I, I think that when there is a problem officer, um, they need to be dealt with absolutely. But do you think about

Speaker 7: 29:42 The idea of, you know, asking police to recognize and sort of apologize for, you know, some of the racial disparities that we've seen in the past as a way to build trust with the community going forward?

Speaker 10: 29:57 I don't think I know enough about, um, that whole picture to really respond to it. Well, I'm not sure about apologizing and all that.

Speaker 1: 30:15 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Mark Sauer, as the nation continues to grapple with how to address racial injustice and police violence. We're now going to hear the second half of a community conversation with San Diego city council member, Monica, Montgomery activist, Khalid Alexander, and San Diego police union, president Jack Schafer about the future of policing and San Diego KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger, Sarah moderated the panel. And she continues by addressing calls to reimagine the role of police officers.

Speaker 7: 30:49 Some police officers have said they didn't sign up to be social workers or mental health professionals. So are there some responsibilities that could be shifted to other city workers who may be better equipped to handle those

Speaker 10: 31:01 Gosh for at least four years? Um, but that we get a lot of stuff as police officers get a lot of stuff thrown on our laps, um, things that aren't necessarily what we're, um, best at. Um, and part of that is like, there's just been a huge, um, you know, homelessness problem, mental health problems within San Diego, um, that there are probably other people that could probably do as good or better of a job. Um, now of course, you know, they need to be safe also. So there's probably a law enforcement element to it, but it seems like whenever there's something going on in society, it always ends up giving, you know, being given to the police officers. And I think some of that should be diverted, um, you know, to, to people that might be like in social workers or clinicians and things like that for, for special issues.

Speaker 7: 31:46 What do you think could happen? And it seems like there's such a vast gap between, um, people, activists, people on the ground and the police department are there, are there things that we can do to try and repair that relationship? And yeah, I think this, this community conversation is a start, but again, it goes back to the core. This is, um, when there is not an admission that not, we're not even dealing with individual racism yet, we're not even dealing with that, but when there is not an admission of, um, a structure being a part of a racist system and perpetuating that system, then it's hard to start anywhere. Um, whenever we are trying to repair relationships, you can go from your own life one-on-one relationships. There always has to be an admission of, um, wrongdoing.

Speaker 8: 32:40 There always has to be that, and if it's not there, then we don't have anywhere to really start. So I'm gonna continue to do what I do at the city and push, push these reforms and push these conversations and get more understanding around it. Just knowing that that's the starting point right there, because everything builds off of that understanding. And if that understanding is not there, then what we build on it, as far as

Speaker 7: 33:07 Mr. Alexander pillars of the community is part of a coalition that's pushing to end pretext stops and consent searches. Can you explain what those are and why you feel like those should be banned?

Speaker 9: 33:19 Yeah, I mean, uh, Jack Shaffer might be able to give a better definition of what pretextual stops are because police are very sophisticated and using them as a reason for pulling police over people over and harassing them. My understanding is, uh, you know, uh, black people are, I think it's up to three times more likely to be pulled over by pretextual stops. So that's for example, saying, Oh, you didn't change lanes or you didn't, uh, you have, uh, a light off in the back. Um, and then in the process of that thought, what they do is they try to become more intrusive into the individual's personal life. They'll ask to search the car, they'll ask where you're going. They'll ask a number of different questions, um, which, uh, you know, the majority of times, uh, w which African Americans are less likely to actually have a crime, um, that has actually been committed from those pretextual stops.

Speaker 9: 34:10 So, yeah, I mean, one of our demands is all pretextual stops immediately in, uh, the district attorney of San Francisco. He's gone so far as to say, Hey, when we look at the numbers that show that black people are pulled over and harassed by police pretextual stops more than, than anybody else, more than white people, more than others. And then Latinos are also, uh, being, being targeted by these things. You can't look at those systems and not say that it's racist. And so because of its racist, he said that I'm not going to prosecute crime things that were found based off of a pretextual stop. Um, because unless from the top up, unless we have district attorneys that refuse to prosecute people that are based off of racist practices, um, it's going to continue to be, uh, an issue. So for us protects fuel stops mean, uh, coming up with an excuse to pull people over and harass them.

Speaker 9: 34:56 Uh, Jack was a part of a notorious. Uh, my understanding was a part of a, kind of a notorious, uh, department of the police, the gang suppression unit gang suppression unit are the ones who are most kind of subject to that things where they pull people over and then they ask them, are you a documented gang member? Are you a gang member? Do you have any tattoos? Um, so the reason for being pulled over in the first place, although you can come, it's kind of like let's make up an excuse to pull them over and then use that to be intrusive into a kind of, uh, violate them and, and, uh, uh, target them as, as, as, as minorities. And the reason they're able to get away with that is because there's no accountability. There's no accountability from the district attorney. There's no accountability from elected officials. There's no accountability from, from the

Speaker 10: 35:38 Community. So, uh, ceasing pretextual stops would be a good way to move towards and admitting that, uh, racial profiling and racism exists apologizing for the harm has done. Those are both good steps towards, uh, creating an environment where a dialogue can begin until those things happen. How can, how can we even have a conversation when Jack says he doesn't have enough information to apologize for the racist policies and practices of the police,

Speaker 7: 36:04 Mr. Shaver, do you want to, is that an accurate description of, of what those stops are or how do you want to respond to,

Speaker 10: 36:13 Um, I mean, that's the, an accurate description of the perception of some people in the public it's not accurate as far as factually, what a pretext stop is, a pretext stop would be finding probable cause. Um, somebody does something wrong in a vehicle. Um, maybe that vehicle matches the description of something like a violent crime, and you find out who's in the vehicle besides stopping them. You know, what I was working as a detective in the, in the gang unit is, um, mr. Alexander mentioned, um, you know, part of what we did was, um, we would get a violent crime and we'd have a suspect description. Um, if somebody made a stop, um, it's seems to be prudent as a police officer that you'd want to find out if that, if that car or that, or the people inside it, um, matched the description of a, of a violent crime. That's how a lot of crimes gets get to get, uh, solved. Um, you know, San Diego police department solves about 90% of our murders. You compare that to most big cities. Um, and you know, some of the big cities in America are solving about 20%, 25% of their, of their murders. Um, but that means there's a lot of people who are very violent out on the street that probably shouldn't be in the end. And, uh, you know, perhaps, you know, that probably makes a lot of, a lot of people, a lot safer.

Speaker 7: 37:29 It sounds like that's not something you'd be willing to, to stop doing.

Speaker 10: 37:34 Let's be clear because a lot of times people mix it up with, with racial profiling. Okay. It's stopping. I had, um, you know, I'm part of the cab cab commission, and I had people talking about it, like it was stopping somebody for being a race, you know, stopping somebody from being black. That's not a pretext stop that's racism. Um, if that is happening, that shouldn't be happening in that, and that needs to be taken care of, um, and handled. But, uh, but a pretext stop has very little, the only thing that race has to do with a pretext stop is a, this is a description of a, you know, of a crime.

Speaker 7: 38:06 I wanted to read a quote from the former New Jersey police chief. And he was quoted as saying within a police department, culture eats policy for breakfast. You can have a perfectly worded policy, but it's meaningless if it just exists on paper. So this is a question for all of you, and we can start with you again, uh, council member Montgomery, how do we begin to change attitudes and culture within a department, uh, specifically around use of force? So I agree with that quote, I

Speaker 8: 38:36 Think I've said it in one way or the other while we've just been in this conversation. Um, I do want to go back and say this though, in every area, in, in, uh, city politics, we, um, use the data to make our decisions and that's never questioned, but when it comes to this particular subject, the data is, is questioned. So when the data tells us that black and Brown people are more likely to be stopped, but less likely to have contraband in their white counterparts that tells us that there is racial profiling going on, and many of those stuffs were pretext stops. So, you know, we, there again, there, there's a big gap in what we are defining as racist and what is not. We know that it is a very hard to prove intent and the way policies are written allow for a lot of work arounds, um, and explanation from officers that kind of get them off the hook when it comes to these stops.

Speaker 8: 39:38 So, um, we, again, it's a, it's a culture change as a culture shift. It does have to start from the top, um, because we are so conditioned oftentimes, and we don't even realize that we are stopping someone because they're a person of color we've been conditioned to believe we should be, uh, in our education in this country or on TV or whatever it is that, uh, black people commit crimes. So if you stop at a black person more than likely they're guilty. So that's in our, you know, our minds and we have to work to, to, uh, get ourselves away from that conditioning. And so if there's, no, again, it goes back to this. If there's no admission there that we start from there. Um, and then it's really, really hard to change a culture, and that has to start from the top. And there has to be that admission from the top. Mr. Alexander, did you want to say anything about changing attitudes, changing culture, um, specific specifically around use of force?

Speaker 9: 40:38 Well, yeah, I mean the only thing that I would say, and I know it sounds like I'm beating up on Jack, but you know, um, it's not, it's not Jack Paul or anything. I mean, that's his job. His job is to defend the police no matter what. Um, and if, if, if, if that wasn't his job, then perhaps they could be the ones who were finding the bad apples in the bunch and, and removing them. But I don't expect that to happen because that's not in the job description, but if we're going to talk about stops, if we're going to talk about violence against people, if we're going to talk about kind of, how can we change that culture? I think there's really, there's two, two, two ways of doing that. One is we have to address the racism that Councilwoman Montgomery did a very good job at, uh, um, breaking down and explaining.

Speaker 9: 41:20 That's a long process. It takes a long time to get rid of the preconceived notions in our minds that black people are dangerous, that black people are criminals, um, that black people are gang members that black people deserve to pulled over because you know, more than likely they're guilty of something that's going to take a long time. Um, but the second reason why these things are able to happen is because they can get away with it. And, and that's not necessarily their fault either. Like if they've been trained to do something, if they've been trained to pull people over in a certain area, if they've been trained to pull people over who match a description, if they've been trained to do all of the things, that's not necessarily their fault. So we have to begin to look to see, well, who are the people who allow these things to happen?

Speaker 9: 42:01 Who are the people who, despite the community's cries of racial profiling, despite the statistics and the studies that say, uh, racial profiling exists, um, despite all of those things have yet to actually be able to stop in and reign in the police departments, that they, they are the ones who fund. So when, when I say that the elected officials fund police departments, that's also kind of disingenuous because it's my money. It's our tax paying money. It's the money from overtime that police are doing for policing our neighborhoods without living in our neighborhoods. It's the money, uh, that, that, that I'm paying. That's going to fund the oppression that's happening on the people that I love and that I care about. Um, and so we have to begin to talk about accountability. Um, the measures that we talked about that the police, uh, came out with recently, um, there's nothing in there about accountability.

Speaker 9: 42:51 Uh, there's nothing in there about, okay, well, when this doesn't happen, what is going, what are the consequences going to be? So there need to be consequences for bad policing. There need to be consequences for a lack of, of customer service, for lack of a better idea. If someone from Starbucks or someone from subway, uh, were to treat me the way that the police officers treat, uh, people every day in Southeast San Diego, there would be so many complaints and that person would be fired immediately. But because we have unions because we have people who, uh, fight strongly for police to be able to act with impunity, it's very difficult to hold them accountable, but that has to change that culture of not holding police accountable has to change. And so accountability, I think, is the number one thing to do in order to stop that

Speaker 1: 43:36 That was Khalid Alexander of pillars of the community. We also heard from San Diego city council member, Monica, Montgomery, and police union leader, Jack Schafer speaking as part of a community conversation project from KPBS and the national conflict resolution center KPBS invited the San Diego police department to be part of this conversation. But a department spokesman declined our invitation.

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KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.