Skip to main content

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

More Policing Reforms

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY SHALINA CHATLANI

Above: A line of police officers observe protesters during a demonstration in downtown San Diego, May 31, 2020.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and police Chief David Nisleit announced two new policies designed to address community concerns about excessive use of force by the San Diego Police Department. Also: San Diego County public health authorities reported 332 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday — a new daily high — and six deaths, raising the county totals to 11,626 cases and 347 deaths and more local news you need.

San Diego County public health authorities reported 332 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday — a new daily high — and six deaths, raising the county totals to 11,626 cases and 347 deaths.

Despite those new numbers, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that the county has not hit any new triggers that would require officials to revisit the stay-at-home order or the phased reopening plan.

FLETCHER: Our message to the public is very clear, the sense of community that we brought together at the beginning of this out of a sense of action to slow the spread is the same spirit that we need to summon now, as we move through the reopening phase. And that is the spirit of commitment and that is the spirit of each and every one of us doing our part to try and slow the spread of coronavirus

A "modest uptick" in the number of hospitalizations and ICU visits also has Fletcher and other officials worried.

***
Yesterday, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and police Chief David Nisleit announced two new policies designed to address community concerns about excessive use of force by the San Diego Police Department.

The new rules require officers to pursue de-escalation of potentially violent situations by all means possible and to intervene if they witness a colleague
engaging in excessive force.

Previously, those were just recommendations, not requirements.

The regulations were developed in consultation with three local oversight bodies
that held emergency meetings on the topic this month.

Police chief Dave Nis-light said the new rules will give his officers and the community a clear message about the role the department plays.

Deescalation matters. We, at the end of the day, our goal is to, uh, solve all incidents, uh, without any use of force.

***
Developers looking for permission to build a master-planned community of 17-hundred homes north of Valley Center were dealt a blow on Wednesday.

San Diego County supervisors voted four-to-one to reject the Lilac Hills development project.

This is the same project county voter rejected back in 2016 when the developers put it on the ballot as Measure B.

Supervisors faulted the proposed development for not meeting fire safety concerns or being consistent with the county's General Plan.

Supervisor Jim Desmond was the only member of the panel to vote to allow the project to move forward.

***
And for you Disney diehards -- you’ll have to wait a bit longer. Disneyland officials today scrubbed its planned July 17 reopening of the Anaheim theme park.

They cited a delay in the release of state guidelines and the time it will take to bring all of its employees back to work.

A new opening date was not immediately announced.

***
From KPBS, I’m Kinsee Morlan and you’re listening to San Diego News Matters, a podcast powered by our reporters, producers and editors.

It’s Thursday, June 25.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Major League baseball is announcing the return of its season near the end of July.

Instead of 162 games right now they're looking at playing just 60.

KPBS Reporter Matt Hoffman spoke to a familiar voice at Petco Park about the news.

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to petco park for tonight game featuring the san francisco giants and your san diego padres!

00:00:37:22 Alex Miniak, Voice of Petco Park
I'm that voice you hear the moment you walk in the gate all the way through first pitch and the last out

Padres public address announcer Alex miniak has been waiting for the return of baseball.

00:02:01:20 Miniak
I'm very excited I know things are going to be different than any other season I've ever done before still a little wait and see there

The plan is to not allow fans inside the ballpark for now. Still, Miniak wants to get back behind the mic, he says it's all about the atmosphere.

00:04:25:10 Miniak
We should try to keep everything as close to normal as we can for those that are playing

That means we could soon be hearing more of this-

00:05:28:23 Miniak
Fernado Tatis Junior you know I can't wait to get back to saying that

Players will report for spring training "2.0" at Petco Park on July 1.

***
At its board meeting tonight, the Poway Unified School District will address allegations of racism brought forth by students on social media.

KPBS Education Reporter Joe Hong explains how the district plans to address allegations of racism that emerged in a student instagram account

In one post, a student recalls being called a racial slur for refusing to lend his classmate a book. Another Black student describes what it was like to never have a teacher who looked like her. That same student says a classmate once told her slavery was a good thing. These are just a couple of the more than 320 anonymous testimonies posted on the Black in PUSD Instagram page in the past week. Poway School Board Member Darshana Patel says she was surprised at how widespread racism is in her district.

DARSHANAPATEL.mp4
00:02:42:16
DARSHANA PATEL // POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD
You can see if you've read some of those incidences, it's pervasive. It is an absolute reflection of what's going on in our society at large. We have to confront this.

At Thursday's board meeting, Patel and her colleagues will vote on a resolution that would require the district to revise hiring practices and reexamine history textbooks and other course materials. The district has also pledged to investigate any allegation against a specific teacher. Patel apologized to those students who reported these incidents and were ignored by school staff.

DARSHANPATEL.mp4
00:06:26:22
DARSHANA PATEL // POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD
It's genuinely an apology. We're not doing enough. I think it's pretty clear. I know that we're reexamining our processes, we're gonna do some deep reflection on confronting our internal biases, and we're gonna look at that. There will be change. I guarantee there will be change.

***
Passenger traffic remains dramatically low at San Diego’s largest airport.

San Diego Airport’s marketing Vice President Hampton Brown says passenger traffic was down 95 percent in mid-April because of COVID 19.

Current numbers are down 80 percent from a year ago.


10:17:36 -- 10:17:49 “We have approximately 30 percent of the flights we do in a normal month, but airlineslike southwest continue to add capacity as they see booking patterns increase.”

KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson says airport officials are working hard to reassure a flying public that’s worried about COVID-19.

People are starting to return to San Diego’s biggest airport. And they’re getting a lot of reminders, like these on elevator doors, about safety in the age of COVID-19. Jonathan Heller is a spokesman for the Airport Authority.

FLYSAFE 1A :07
10:29:18 -- 10:29:25 “Ding Ding, of course the doors open right away. We have the floor decals that also encourage social distancing.

Masks are required when people are indoors and nearly everyone complies. And there are plenty of stickers encouraging hand washing and social distancing.

FLYSAFE 1B :15
10:30:04 – 10:30:19 “We understand that when you’re in the airport there are things that you have to touch. Whether it’s a kiosk when you’re checking in or a handrail on the escalator. So we have our cleaning crews coming around on a constant basis cleaning all the high touch points.”

Heller says traffic is inching back up from mid-April. He says the airport is getting about 20 percent of the traffic from a year ago.

***
Meanwhile, some folks are concerned about one particular type of travel and tourism continuing through the pandemic…

Arizona notched a new high for hospitalizations on Tuesday… which has people in California worrying they could be bringing COVID with them on their vacations here.

KPBS reporter John Carroll talked to a tourism expert about those concerns.
__________________________________________________________________

A good portion of tourist traffic on Interstate 8 comes from Arizona.

That's raising concerns because in Yuma, COVID cases have jumped 300-percent in less than a month. The situation isn't much better in either Phoenix or Tucson. The head of SDSU's School of Hospitality and Tourism management, Carl Winston, says when it comes to concerns about Arizona tourists bringing COVID here… we're left with a conundrum.

"I think there's not a definitive way forward because there's really these 2 forces that are in conflict with each other."

As to what, if anything can be done about the situation, County officials said this afternoon, that's up to the state.

***
As we talked about earlier in the podcast, San Diego Police officers are now required to attempt de-escalation practices when dealing with the public, and to step in if another officer is using excessive force.

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser explains how this latest local reform stems from the George Floyd killing at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.

Kevin Faulconer
San Diego Mayor
SOT 7:00
This is a policy that will make sure what happened in Minneapolis doesn't happen here in San Diego.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced two new changes to San Diego Police Department policy. One requires officers to step in if they see another officer using excessive force.

SOT 7:28
"The actions of one officer can impact all officers. The actions of one officer can impact all communities. So if the actions of one officer go too far, every officer has a vested interest in making sure that it does not."

The second creates a stand-alone de-escalation policy.

SOT 5:02
"Now the department has separate, expanded and standalone policies that don't just suggest deescalation, they require it...5:52 Deescalation steps include creating a buffer zone between an officer and a subject to help reduce tensions between an officer and a subject to decrease tension."

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit spoke highly of the policy and says the police union is on board.

SOT 11:09
This new de-escalation policy is the most robust or one of the most robust in the country.

Other departments, including Berkeley and Baltimore, already have similar policies requiring police to attempt de-escalation first. Berkeley is also now adding requirements that officers step in to stop excessive force.
Use Berkeley footage from Andi's folder on Snuffy

Bishop William Benson with the Total Deliverance Worship Center says there is still more work to be done.

Bishop Dr. William Benson
Total Deliverance Worship Center
19:18
Community, your voices have been heard...19:31 Community, we know you're asking for much more, and we know there's a lot of hard work that needs to go into this, but this has to be celebrated as going forward.

Community Advocate Khalid Alexander said a new policy is not enough. The police department must also work to improve its relationship with communities of color.

Khalid Alexander
Pillars of the Community
00:03:59:19
First acknowledge the harm you've done in the community and then maybe we can begin to have conversations with the community. ..00:05:29:04 The reason why they escalate things is because they always think everything they do is safe and reasonable. When they kill people with their guns.

Chief Nisleit did not put a timeline on the new training, except to say that it will begin soon.

KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Trageser.

***

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, frustration grows over the restrictions that health officials say are essential to defeating the virus around the country.

And now, that frustration has led to harassment and even assault on public health officials around the country as a sort of protest against their views on how to respond to the pandemic.

Here in San Diego County, a speaker at the County supervisor's meeting yesterday, attacked public health officer dr. Wilmer Wooten and publicly gave out her home address.

Anna Maria Barry gesture is senior correspondent for California healthline and Kaiser health news.

KPBS Midday Edition’s Alison St. John talked to her about the disturbing trend.


reporting suggests a number of other public health officials have left their posts since the pandemic began. Why? Yeah, unfortunately this is somewhat of a national trend. Um, you know, the long and short of it is that these are officials are under enormous pressure. So in many cases they're experiencing threats, personal attacks, those sorts of things, but they're also working incredibly long hours. I've talked to numerous health officials across the country who haven't taken a day off since February, you know, they're responsible for speaking to businesses, to the public, to elected officials, they're writing health orders. They're trying to keep up with the science, which is changing daily and the stress is extraordinary. And when you add on top of that, the physical and personal threats, I think it's, it's just very daunting for people who are working extremely hard, under pretty tough conditions.
Speaker 1: 01:54 Yes. Dr. Barbara Ferrera, the director of the Los Angeles County department of public health issued a statement on Monday of this week, condemning attacks on public health directors and disclosing that she faced repeated threats to her safety. So, uh, has your reporting shown that California has, has seen it share more or less of these attacks than other States trend in, in many States started with 27 officials in 13 States. We wrote about it a week ago and it's only gone up since then, but California does seem to be experiencing a fairly large number of, of these instances and it is a large state, but it seems disproportionate even to the size. I think one thing that was very striking to me was in dr. First statement. She said, not only that she'd experienced these threats, but that one of the reasons that she does the briefings to the media and public herself is to shield her staff from the threats and harassment.
Speaker 1: 02:43 So she's taking them very seriously. So 27 officials in 13 States have what left their positions? Why were they, did they resign? Were they fired? They retired, resigned, or, you know, were asked to resign. And actually the number has grown since then, national who represent public health leaders say they're, they're deeply troubled and also are aware of multiple other people who may resign in future weeks. It's quite troubling. Talk about what's sparking these attacks. Where are they coming from? These are officials who are tasked with making best recommendations to keep the public healthy. Um, in the case of health officers in California, they actually have the legal right to write orders and times of outbreaks and epidemics and require the public to restrict their movements. Things like this. One of the things that's been very contentious lately is the question of face coverings. And there are people who don't like to be told what to do and feel that it's an overreach or unnecessary.
Speaker 1: 03:37 It's tricky. The science is that it's changing all the time and people are trying to make their best recommendations. You know, then there's elected officials who are tasked with thinking also about the economy and other things. And so sometimes those things collide. How prevalent do you think the feelings are that are spurring these attacks? You know, it can take a small group of people who are very vocal and in the case of California are showing up to board of supervisors, meetings, and things can seem much noisier than it is when you look at polling by and large Californians are very proud of the state's response and they are in agreement with, um, a slower opening restrictions on movement and things like face coverings, San Diego County spokesman, Michael Workman declined yesterday to discuss the issue of the harassment of dr. Wooten with reporters at the San Diego union Tribune.
Speaker 1: 04:26 But he did say, quote, continued focus on this irrational behavior has only exacerbated the problem. We will continue to focus on the public's health and the woman who had talked up to it. And at the meeting told reporters that she got a call from the Sheriff's department to check that she had no ill intent. Have other areas responded to these threats in any way, or they'd done anything to, to respond to possible causes. Yes, there are multiple officials who have security details, unfortunately, and I will say one thing that's interesting is officials say they expect criticism of their policies. That's quite normal. What concerns them is the very personal attacks on individuals and questioning their motivations expertise, patriotism, you know, elected officials appoint these people. And so there is a democratic process by which to, you know, look at their jobs and how well they're doing.
Speaker 1: 05:17 Um, and, and they just are very concerned by the personal attacks.

And that was Anna Maria Barry gesture, senior correspondent for California healthline and Kaiser health news.

KPBS Midday Edition’s Alison St. John talked to her about the disturbing trend.

**
The San Diego Symphony has launched a new digital series on YouTube and Facebook.

It’s called LISTEN // HEAR and it features Music Director Rafael Payare and his colleagues from the San Diego Symphony, along with their London-based Creative Consultant, Gerard McBurney. They discuss highlights of the symphonic repertoire and otherwise make you smart and cultured.

OK. That’s the show. Thanks for listening.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.