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Questions Surround SDPD’s Use Of Force Training

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Today on San Diego news Matters: Local Faith leaders come together to demand an end to police brutality. We have the third and final installment of our investigative series on Police Use of Force. And from our KPBS film critic: a review of an old-new movie, PBS’ American Playhouse ‘The Killing Floor’ (1984).

Speaker 1: 00:01 A brush fire in the East County for some people to evacuate their homes. Yesterday, it started around noon in Lawson Valley, near Hummel evacuation orders were given for some nearby homes, but thankfully, no injuries or structural damage was reported as of 8:00 PM. Last night, it was about 100 acres and 20% contained and all evacuation orders have since been lifted. San Diego health and human services tweeted late Thursday, a renewed call for blood donations saying supplies at the San Diego blood bank are at a critical low. So if you're not busy today, health officials are saying every donation can help save three lives. San Diego pride will no longer allow law enforcement agencies to participate in pride parades or have a booth at the festival until certain police reforms are met. Pride. Officials sent a letter to San Diego city mayor Kevin Faulkner this week asking that he and the city complete steps to support the black LGBTQ community, including instituting significant reforms to reduce police violence. This year's pride parade and festival is canceled and it has been replaced with online events and in Sacramento assembly woman, Shirley Weber sponsored a bill to bring back affirmative action. The bill would repeal prop two Oh nine, which outlawed the consideration of race and gender in public education, hiring and awarding public contracts. I'm Annika Colbert filling in for Kinsey Moreland. This is San Diego news batters from KPBS news, happy weekend Eve it's Friday, June 12th. Stay with me for the local news. You need

Speaker 1: 01:41 more than 20 faith leaders from across San Diego County gathered on Thursday to demand an end to police brutality. They came together as part of the San Diego organizing project, a nonprofit representing nearly 30 congregations across the County. The leaders say they want to see reforms that will ensure fair and just treatment for everyone regardless of their skin color. Here's part of what a basketball Bishop Susan Brown snuck had to say.

Speaker 2: 02:07 The work of dismantling racism is not work for black people to do. This is white people's work. I have to do this work. We have power. We have influence. We white people have benefited from racist systems in ways that we don't even realize even when we personally would never knowingly do a racist act.

Speaker 1: 02:32 All of the faith leaders committed to taking the message to their congregations and to begin the hard work of dismantling racism in our society. The San Diego police department yesterday revealed a new set of deescalation policies, and they were voted in unanimously by the San Diego police chiefs and Sheriff's association. But there's one California department who is already way ahead of the SDPD and others. When it comes to decreasing tensions on the

Speaker 3: 03:00 street, KPBS, investigative reporter, Claire Traeger traveled to Berkeley where police leaders now see deescalation policy as central to their mission.

Speaker 4: 03:10 We have a patient wearing a schema.

Speaker 3: 03:15 Lieutenant Spencer Faunby is rushing to a call in Berkeley, California.

Speaker 5: 03:19 There's two hospitals that we take people through. If they're in mental health crisis, this is one of them calling us.

Speaker 3: 03:24 He's preparing to help a team of officers engage with a man who appears to be having a mental health crisis. When the officers arrive, they take a specific approach.

Speaker 5: 03:35 So if there's not an immediate threat to the officers or to some other person, then most of the times the officers can slow things down, take their time and start to call resources started to coordinate a response to the problem instead of taking individual action or using force immediately,

Speaker 3: 03:58 police can use other tactics as well, like using their squad car for cover and designating one officer to do the talking. So the person doesn't feel confused or threatened in this case, a female officer was already on the scene talking to the man. So Bombi

Speaker 4: 04:18 come

Speaker 5: 04:18 immediately right in his space because I can tell from what he's saying and his demeanor and what he's wearing, that, you know, he may be going through crisis. So if I come up and get close to him, I just become a distraction to whatever she's trying to accomplish.

Speaker 3: 04:31 When Berkeley officers use force, they use many of the same tactics as other departments, but the department's mantra is to do everything possible, to avoid using force. That means approaching people in a way that doesn't agitate them and that allows officers to protect themselves. So they are less likely to be in an unsafe position.

Speaker 5: 04:52 If the person complies, then we don't have to use force. We assumed versus not going to comply and we'll have tactics to mitigate that. But if we rush in and create a really close quarters, intense confrontation, then it's more likely that we're gonna get into a gunfight

Speaker 3: 05:14 in his 19 year career Faunby has been involved in four incidents that ended with an officer shooting someone.

Speaker 5: 05:21 We can't avoid officer involved shootings all together, but again, with a certain certain approach, certain tactics, we can minimize the chances that we'll get into a deadly force confrontation.

Speaker 3: 05:33 The city of Berkeley, hasn't had an officer involved shooting in eight years. Bombi created the deescalation training class and started leading it for Berkeley police four years ago, far ahead of a new state requirement that officers take deescalation training. But Bombi says in Berkeley, it's not about setting aside a certain block of hours for this type of training.

Speaker 5: 05:57 It's a part of every training that we do. So if we do defensive tactics, if we do firearms training, when we just had specific, less lethal training with the launchers that I showed you earlier in all of those where we're talking about the tactics, we're talking about, um, you know, opportunities to deescalate, we're talking about what reasonable force is. And in each situation,

Speaker 3: 06:21 it also involves a shift in attitude for police.

Speaker 5: 06:24 If you, you have an agency that instills that, you know, we don't take any mess from anybody and you know, anybody who mouse off, you know, you need to approach it this way. Anybody who tries to resist this is the way we're going to approach it. And, and, you know, you can create officers who are a little bit more aggressive.

Speaker 3: 06:45 Bombi says the training Berkeley officers receive also puts an emphasis on how race impacts the relationships between police and the public.

Speaker 6: 06:54 At the same time, when we're looking at implicit bias, training, racial profiling, uh, you know, doing assessments of stop data and trying to figure out where those disparities lie. And I think if you combine those, those two things, then you can really get to the heart of the problem or at least try to affect in some way.

Speaker 7: 07:15 Well, I think one of the things that makes us stand out is that it's a department wide initiative. It's something that chief believes in all the way down to line officers.

Speaker 3: 07:22 Phillip Stinson is a former police officer and professor of criminal justice at bowling green state university. He says, Berkeley is far ahead of most departments on this issue

Speaker 7: 07:32 instead of, um, uh, what we see in many police departments where officers are very quick to race into a situation, they're actually stepping back, assessing the situation, trying to get tactical advantage.

Speaker 3: 07:44 And he says the department's holistic approach is far more effective than simply adding a certain number of deescalation training hours onto an existing training program. That's what the San Diego police department and other local law enforcement agencies are doing.

Speaker 7: 08:00 If it's just periodic training in small blocks where it's something nifty that we're doing, it's the latest flavor. It's the latest thing we're trying so that we can tell our constituents. We can tell, uh, various people, various stakeholders that this is something we're doing, but that's not enough. We have to change the way that police officers go about their day to day activities and their interactions with citizens

Speaker 3: 08:28 on the call, Faunby answered about the man wearing a ski mask. The situation did escalate.

Speaker 5: 08:35 He stepped in, we were, we're attempting to deescalate in the sense that if he, if he just sits there with the handcuffs on fine, once he puts the handcuffs, tries to put the handcuffs in front of them. Now we have to escalate to control him so that he doesn't run or fight

Speaker 3: 08:48 officer's gave the man an injection of a sedative and took him to the hospital. But even that approach drew criticism from

Speaker 1: 08:56 a small crowd that, uh, gathered to observe the incident. He says, he understands the community's concerns and wishes police weren't called to mental health stops like this at all,

Speaker 6: 09:10 have a person who needs longterm intensive mental health treatment. And what are we saying as a society? What are we staying saying is that as a state where the police, I agree that we should not be the first responders to mental health crisis calls. Um, you know, my goal would be to reduce the number of times that people in crisis come in contact with police officers. You know, something's got to give because if people want better outcomes and they want to see better results, something has to happen.

Speaker 1: 09:44 That was KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Tresor KPBS video journalist. Andy do cliff contributed to this report. And if you go online to our website@kpbs.org, you'll find Claire and our amazing web teams put together a searchable database with all the different documents used in this series. 161 new cases of COVID-19 were reported yesterday by the County in their latest update. Three deaths were also reported. Two of whom had underlying health conditions. And after months of distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic summer is finally here. And school is out. And the big question for a lot of parents is what will happen in the fall. It turns out a number of San Diego schools are already working on it. KPBS education reporter, Joe Hong, talked to different local districts and has this report on what plans they've got so far

Speaker 8: 10:49 under the state guidelines, students would have their temperatures checked regularly and will need to be separated by six feet in the classroom. Also, students and teachers will be required to wear face coverings. Francisco Escobedo is the superintendent of the Trulia Vista elementary school district. He said, while most parents want students to return to school, distance learning will be an option for students who might be living with at risk family members.

Speaker 9: 11:10 So everyone has a different rationale and a specific reasons why they want to stay or go to school. So we definitely want to meet the needs of our individual families.

Speaker 8: 11:23 The state's guidance offers several possible scenarios. Schools could divide its student body in half and have them come to campus on alternating weeks. Some schools might do half days. The top priority at San Diego unified school district is returning students to school. Richard Brower is vice president of the school board.

Speaker 9: 11:39 We don't want to do staggered schedules. We don't want to do half days. Um, our students need to be in school all day. Our parents need our students to be in school all day.

Speaker 8: 11:50 But to do that, borrower says districts will need more federal state funding. Then it's already been promised. Otherwise it'll be back to distance learning.

Speaker 3: 11:57 That was KPBS education reporter Joe Hong

Speaker 4: 12:07 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 12:09 the movie, the killing floor takes a look at union organizing by Chicago slaughterhouse workers during world war one. The 1984 made for TV movie has been digitally restored and is now available on streaming services. KPBS film critic, Beth OCHA Mando says the backdrop of the Chicago race riots of 1919. Make it surprisingly topical COVID-19 is for cinemas to close. And now protests are focusing attention on issues of race. One unexpected consequence of this convergence of events is that distributors are making films by black filmmakers, more readily available to audiences for the killing floor. Actor turned director, bill Duke was drawn to the true story of black and white slaughterhouse workers, trying to build an interracial union for the first time in Chicago stockyards. But those in power used race to divide the workers, which contributed to the powder keg of tensions that erupted into the Chicago race ride of 1919.

Speaker 10: 13:06 Some blocks near the stock yards had been burned down. A lot of folks was homeless. Somebody said, colored folks done that didn't make no sense. No colored, man. Could've got close enough to set that fire. Even the police said it was white men and black face, I guess it didn't matter. Cause folks was gonna think what they wanted

Speaker 3: 13:25 made for PBS as American Playhouse in 1984, the killing floor resonates today as it explores how race has been used as a weapon to divide communities and how agitators were used to disrupt union protests and divide black workers to keep them powerless. It's a compelling piece of history that's well worth watching during our current social unrest, Bethlehem Mondo KPBS news,

Speaker 1: 13:52 Cindy going news matters is a daily morning news podcast powered by all of the reporters, editors and producers in the KPBS newsroom tune into midday edition today at noon on KPBS radio or watch KPBS evening edition at 5:00 PM on KPBS television. To keep up with all of the news throughout your day. And if you are tuning in KPBS round table with Mark Sauer is back on radio. Now you can catch it at noon 30 today, right after midday edition. Thanks for listening.

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