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Peace Officers Research Association Hopes For Tangible Reform After Chauvin Trial

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MATTHEW BOWLER

Police block Kansas Street in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego after a man was fatally shot, Feb. 1, 2021.

As the public continues to focus a critical eye on police departments across the nation, there are at least 10 related bills currently working their way through the California legislature to affect change in policing. Plus, local unions have lobbied lawmakers to grant eligibility to their members, secured separate supplies of vaccines and launched outreach campaigns. And after a year of pandemic lockdown, the Oscars will go ahead this Sunday - this time with a much different format.

Speaker 1: 00:01 Some California police push for reform.

Speaker 2: 00:03 We're willing to come to the table and have some hard discussions on what policing looks like and where it needs to go in the future.

Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS mid day today. Local unions are encouraging members to get vaccinated against COVID 19.

Speaker 3: 00:29 Somebody is a member of a union and their union is communicating with them directly about the importance of an issue. They trust a message coming from their union

Speaker 1: 00:39 And a preview of the Oscars. Plus a look back at the shove and trial and more headlines on this week's round table. That's ahead on midday edition. After the death of George Floyd police reforms were spurred across the nation. This year, there are at least 10 bills working their way through the state legislature. And while there have been consistent calls for police reform in recent years, tangible change likely will not happen without the input and participation of members within the law enforcement community. Brian Marvel, who is president of the police officers research association, and a member of the San Diego police department says it's time for police reform to happen. Brian, welcome.

Speaker 2: 01:21 Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. So

Speaker 1: 01:22 Across the country, we've seen a number of police reform initiatives fail after being introduced. Do you think the current moment following the Shovan trial will spur on more tangible change?

Speaker 2: 01:33 Yeah, I think you'll see a lot of groups, uh, especially, uh, police unions coming to the table to want to have, uh, concerted discussions on what the improving law enforcement looks like. I think in some of those cases, those bills and, uh, police reform ideas were never really brought to the table to where the professionals that were actually out on the street were actually able to have a seat at the table and have a discussion of what that looks like. And I think now there's a little bit more desire to have all stakeholders involved in what crafting that reform and what it looks like to be at the table and have those discussions.

Speaker 1: 02:07 Do you know much of the focus on these reform initiatives involves mandating a standard for use of force tactics, California now has a standard after Shirley Weber's legislation, um, you've advocated for a national standard to be set. Do you think that's realistic?

Speaker 2: 02:23 I am hoping so. I think the work that we've done here in California can resonate throughout the United States with AB three 92. We also ran Senate bill two 30, uh, which set the standard, uh, through training. We also advocate in Washington DC, and we've been pushing this message for many years, that there needs to be a minimum use of force standard across the board in all 50 States. And I think it's starting to resonate with a lot of the elected officials because several years ago we would get pushback. Believe it or not from some folks saying that they didn't really need that, but I think the writing is on the wall. And I think that this time right, is a great opportunity to make this happen. And I think this is where the federal government could actually step up and do it. Right.

Speaker 1: 03:05 Other key priorities of proposed reform involve de certifying negligent officers or establishing a duty for officers to intervene if they witnessed the use of excessive force. What do you see as the main obstacles in adopting these practices

Speaker 2: 03:20 Here in California? Our biggest concern is, is the makeup of the board. That's going to oversee that, uh, seven of the nine people are pretty much predisposed to be against the peace officer. I don't think you'd find that in any other profession. We obviously advocate for due process and the board should really be like, look, the department and the people that investigated this officer, they've done everything right. They've done it by the book. And we're going to say this officer can no longer be a peace officer here in the state of California, but hopefully we're also pushing for a national database. So this officer, uh, when they are stripped of their police licensing, they can't work in any other state. And we think that's extremely important for not just California,

Speaker 1: 03:58 A consistent point of criticism for modern policing in America seems to concern training practices as well of what can be done to raise the standard for training officers across the board.

Speaker 2: 04:09 First and foremost, we should be taking a look at our basic police Academy. Currently the hours that are provided are insufficient. And that's just my opinion on that. I think we need to look at expanding the amount of hours. We also are running a educational bill through poor act with Senator [inaudible], um, where officers can still join the police force with a high school diploma. But while they're on the police force, there'll be a stress and importance to, to seek higher education. I think it's vitally important that we try to provide opportunities for officers to get as much education as they can, but also with that expanding the police Academy. So we can encompass those courses on dealing with mental health, dealing with wellness, dealing with homelessness issues and dealing with the other variety of issues that we deal with in law enforcement today, I think would be a big movement in the right direction for improving standards and training.

Speaker 1: 04:59 What do you think could be done to improve hiring practices?

Speaker 2: 05:02 It would be nice to see elected officials coming out saying, Hey, you know what, policing and keeping our communities safe is a super high priority. And we want all the best possible candidates we can from all the communities that we serve. And I think there is not enough emphasis placed on communities of, uh, people of color to join the police force. And I think some of that comes down to some of the elected officials. There's so much negativity on being a police officer. Now that a lot of people are saying, you know, I really don't want to do this profession, which hampers our ability to recruit the people that we need within this profession. So while we're working on improving education, improving the police Academy, the basic police Academy and providing opportunities, being a police officer is a great middle-class job that provides a pension that provides very good pay. We should be trying to get people to want to go into this profession, to serve their communities and make it better

Speaker 1: 05:51 As someone coming from within the law enforcement community. Um, you've got to walk a fine line in police practices while also advocating for the role of rank and file officers. How do you think current attitudes towards policing in the nation will affect efforts to enact reform?

Speaker 2: 06:07 Well, I think, you know, we're obviously in the, uh, police union business, you know, we're a little bit on the defensive, but it's not like we don't want to come to the table and have these discussions. We're willing to come to the table and have some hard discussions on what policing looks like and where it needs to go in the future. We have to recognize that we need those professionals at the table to have those discussions. It can't be a one-sided conversation where the only people that are crafted in the laws are the people that have never done the job. I don't think it's an effective way to create laws that benefit everyone.

Speaker 1: 06:38 I've been speaking with Brian Marvel, president of the police officers research association, and a member of the San Diego police department. Brian, thanks for joining us.

Speaker 2: 06:47 And thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Speaker 1: 06:55 Local unions are used to advocating for their members and pushing lawmakers for change. Now, KPBS reporter Claire Tresor says they're doing that for something new to encourage their members to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaker 4: 07:08 I signed that. And then Lily Navarino had been looking for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment everywhere with no luck. She's been a Vaughn's worker for 30 years. So she turned to an organization she often turns to for help her union, the union amazingly organized these clinics for the employees. It was a huge relief because now looking back and I remember the beginning of the pandemic, uh, coming back from leaving my shoes outside, thinking my glass go straight to the shower. It was really scary unions across the San Diego region are working hard to get their members vaccinated and pulling many of the same tactics they use to get laws passed and favored political candidates, elected they're lobbying lawmakers to grant eligibility to their members and securing separate supplies of vaccines from state and County officials. They've also launched vaccine awareness campaigns among their members. It is a trusted information source for people, UC San Diego epidemiology, professor Rebecca fielding Miller says all of this will have a big impact. Increasing herd immunity in unionized workplaces and vaccination rates in low-income communities. There's like a fire hose of information happening all the time. But if your union reaches out to you and says, do this and this on this day, that's really helpful. That's what we do every day. Todd Walters is president of the local food workers union. He says they've made it easy for members to sign up for vaccine appointments at union run clinics and are encouraging those who are vaccine to get the shot.

Speaker 3: 08:57 You know, when you, you visit members on a job site, it's people don't understand what a big, um, how important that really is. Cause you see people on the job site, you kind of have a captive audience. Um, but most importantly, you build those relationships with them where they trust you. Um, they share information with you.

Speaker 4: 09:16 They represent childcare and home care providers and utility workers have also organized their own vaccination clinics. The international brotherhood of electrical workers union successfully lobbied the governor to add utility workers, to tier one B so they could begin receiving vaccines in mid-March. Now Nate Fairman the business manager for the local branch says more than 50% of his members are vaccinated.

Speaker 3: 09:44 Union is one of your most trusted sources of information. Um, people get inundated with information from, you know, their employer from their, you know, the community groups. But when somebody is a member of a union and their union is communicating with them directly about the importance of an issue, they trust a message coming from their union.

Speaker 4: 10:05 Bridget Browning, president of unite here, local 30, a hotel workers union says she's letting her members know that skipping the vaccine may cost them work. We're going to have to,

Speaker 5: 10:16 I really tell our members if you don't get vaccinated and this customer says you can't be in their banquet room, like you can't be in their bank.

Speaker 4: 10:23 Even for non-union workers, pressure from coworkers and friends can often make a difference in whether they take the shot. Paolo Miralis is the sushi manager at sushi deli in mission Hills and says at first many of his coworkers didn't want the vaccine, but now they're coming around.

Speaker 5: 10:41 We're never gonna win over. We never gonna, uh, uh, Goldberg this situation. If the 50% of the people got the shirt and another 50, just wait to see what's going to happen

Speaker 4: 10:52 After seeing Miralis and others get their shots. Another coworker Daniel Flores says he will get one too.

Speaker 5: 10:59 Yeah, it's a new vaccine. And we don't know much about it because it's barely coming out. But it's all about each other's health. You know, Claire Trek,

Speaker 4: 11:09 Asser KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 11:12 You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade. Hindman the 93rd Academy awards are taking place this Sunday. And the pandemic has forced the ceremony to make some changes, including moving to a later time in the year to discuss the event, as well as the slate of nominees, we had KPBS Sinema junkie, Beth, AKA Mondo and movie Wallaces podcaster Yazdi pathology joined midday edition. Here's that interview the golden Globes and the BAFTAs that's the equivalent of the British Oscars. I have both taken place online. Beth, what is the Academy doing to be different for its award ceremony? Well, of course the Oscars want to be different and special.

Speaker 6: 11:54 So for this year's Oscar ceremony, they're doing away with the in-person parties and kind of those events, but there will be nominees and guests in person at the traditional Dolby theater and other locations as well. And there seems to be a no sweatshirts, no PJ's rule in place for the people who do attend. And there's not going to be a host this year, but multiple presenters and the official word from the Academy is we are going to great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening. And we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts. But the four of the five best songs will be recorded and not done live. So we'll have to see, maybe it will be designer. Masks will be the thing to talk about,

Speaker 1: 12:37 Oh wow, I'll be jewel. Then all we shall see and Yazidi, you think these pandemic ceremonies will be entertaining enough to draw an audience.

Speaker 7: 12:47 I hope so. Anytime they do something differently, there is a greater probability of things going wrong and that makes for good entertainment. Uh, and this year filmmaker, Steven Soderbergh is one of the three main producers for the Oscar telecast. And while Soderbergh is not exactly renowned for being the most technically rigorous filmmaker, he more than makes up for it with his creativity. So I'm eager to see what he brings to the show and especially with the ceremony being planned to be jointly telecasts between the parking lot, outside the union train station in Los Angeles and the job, the theater,

Speaker 1: 13:19 And, you know, the Oscars have been dealing with criticism of being too white. But this year they seem to be moving in a more diverse direction. What do you see as promising about the list of nominees?

Speaker 6: 13:31 So there is a marked increase in women and people of color being nominated across the board, but it's shocking to have to point out that Steven yen is the first Asian American nominated as best actor for Minari. And looking back on Oscar history, apparently they never bothered to nominate the great Japanese actor to share him a funy. And we also have Riz Ahmed for sound of metal, and he's being touted as the first Muslim and first person of Pakistani descent to be nominated in the best actor category. So they joined other actors of color that have been nominated this year. So the acting category is definitely diverse

Speaker 1: 14:08 And Yazdi that diversity also extends to the directors. What's exciting about these nominees.

Speaker 7: 14:14 So let's look at the five nominees for best director this year. So closure and first-time director, Emerald Fennell, they're both female, and this will be the first time. Shockingly first time the two female nominees are simultaneously nominated for best director. Uh, the Isaac chunk is the third person and he's a first-generation Korean American Thomas winter. Berg is a Danish filmmaker and that leaves out David Fincher as the only white American director on the list. So it is pretty doable.

Speaker 1: 14:43 Yeah. And, uh, do you feel this is true progress?

Speaker 6: 14:47 Well, I would say it depends on who wins. So Yazdi pointed out David Fincher is the only white American male there. And if he ends up winning for best director, or if let's say Anthony Hopkins wins for best actor, then this may feel more like a promotional attempt to appear more diverse. But if we see some of these diverse nominees actually win, then I do feel that progress is more genuine and is being made.

Speaker 7: 15:12 Yeah, I mean, uh, for the first time it would seem that, uh, if, uh, you believe the prognosticators best actor, best female actor, best supporting the latch and best female actor could all be individuals who make up for the Oscars. So white controversy from before. And I think the distinction that is often lost is that when people raise for more diversity, nobody's ever implying that diversity should Trump merit. Of course, the person who did the best job should always win period. But those are those who are raising for diversity are pushing Hollywood in the larger film industry to create content with more racial diversity and to hire acting and craft personnel who are more diverse so that we have a more balanced creative output from which to pick nominees

Speaker 6: 15:57 To follow up on what Yazdi said, Judas in the black Messiah is the first film nominated for best picture that has an all African-American producing team behind it. And I think that goes to show how diversity behind the camera can create content that is also more diverse. True. Indeed. The documentary category is one that you both feel strongly about. Beth, are you happy with the nominees there? Yes and no. So time and the collective are both incredibly good documentaries and are well worthy of being nominated, but this was a year of truly brilliant and innovative documentary. So I was a little disappointed that the more conventional and kind of emotionally pleasing documentaries, like my octopus teacher and the mole agent got nominated over what I think are more original films like Dick Johnson is dead or the truffle hunters or the one about Danny Trejo called inmate number one. Yeah.

Speaker 7: 16:52 Yeah. I agree with bet. This is a highly competitive category every year and particularly this year. And at some level I can understand why the octopus teacher and the moral agent got nominated because they have a much greater emotional impact and folks unfortunately tend to go for sentiment or innovation. And exactly like that said, Dick Johnson's dad is so brilliant in terms of how it just, just completely V imagines the structure of a documentary. So w we'll see how it plays out

Speaker 6: 17:21 Any final thoughts. Well, again, in terms of the nominations, there were a lot of smaller films that were very innovative, darker films, films, like a possessor and St mod. And those films are still not being recognized because I think one thing we forget about diversity, it's not merely about people of color and gender equity. It's also about the diversity of creativity that's out there. So one of the things I always want to see from the Oscars and rarely do is supporting more of those indie films that are truly daring and pushing the envelope.

Speaker 7: 17:59 Unfortunately, those films will shout a lot, get hurt the most and the little smaller films who have no one to shop for them, kind of get overlooked and, and, you know, my list of smaller movies this year, which definitely deserves some recognition into the nest, the 40 year old version, first cow, Palm Springs and black bear. But I take some solace in knowing that a smaller film, like the white tiger at least got a best adapted screenplay nomination.

Speaker 6: 18:26 Right. I've been speaking with KPBS, cinema junkie, Beth Huck Amando and movie Wallis's podcast, or Yazdi [inaudible]. Thanks. You both. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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KPBS Midday Edition

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.