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New law not finding police officer discrimination

 October 19, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, October 19th.

A new law is meant to shine a spotlight on cases of police discrimination. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Good news for 43-million Americans who have student debt … you can NOW sign up online for federal student loan forgiveness.

Twelve-million people have already applied… And people who have signed up told KPBS it took less than five minutes.

To qualify, your income for 20-20 or 20-21 must be less than 125-thousand dollars a year as a single tax filer… or under 250-thousand dollars as a couple or family.

You can apply at STUDENT-AID-DOT-GOV.

The deadline is December of next year.

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A motorcyclist who lost a leg in a freeway crash caused by a Navy sailor in National City has reached a nearly 11-million-dollar settlement with the federal government.

It's believed to be the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving a vehicle collision against the federal government in San Diego.

The crash happened in 20-19 on Interstate 5, when a sailor driving a Navy van struck another vehicle, causing a chain reaction of crashes into Peter Arthur's motorcycle.

He was thrown from his motorcycle and sustained serious injuries.

Arthur is a Navy veteran.

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The average price of regular gas in San Diego County has dropped to under six-dollars a gallon for the first time since last month.

Yesterday, the average price of regular gas dropped to five-dollars-and-98-cents a gallon.

The price drop of more than seven-cents is the largest decrease since 20-18.

But the average price is still nearly 60-cents higher than last month….

And gas prices are one-dollar-and-54-cents higher than this time last year.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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A new state law went into effect in January that requires law enforcement agencies to release records about officer discrimination.

But investigative reporter Claire Trageser found most local police departments say they have nothing to report.

It was a night in Vegas that didn’t stay in Vegas. In January 2020, Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Phillips and his girlfriend spent hours at a casino drinking heavily with a group of German tourists. That’s according to a Sheriff’s report.. Later, the group went up to a hotel room. That’s where things took a turn. Phillips allegedly punched a hole in a wall and pulled out his gun. He was arrested by Las Vegas Police. Well, he's claiming that his girlfriend, she's in the room. They got in a fight over Russian Nazis. That's actually what he's claiming. Phillips was fired for breaking several Sheriff’s Department rules….drinking while armed with a gun and saying he’s in law enforcement to avoid arrest. “If I’m not under arrest, can I not be handcuffed? I’m no danger to you.” But all of this would have stayed secret if Phillips hadn’t broken one other rule. “These freakin' German idiots… He said discriminatory things about the Germans. Russian, German, whatever the hell they are. They were speaking some other damn language…Russians come to our country, cause shit, I'm the one who gets in trouble.” A new state law says when departments find their officers say or do discriminatory things, those records have to be public. But San Diego County police agencies say they have nothing to report…The Phillips case is just one of six released. But does that mean all officers are behaving correctly? Nancy Skinner, the state Senator who wrote the law, is dubious. State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D) Berkeley “If you have a culture in an agency where they, number one, don't even want to recognize misconduct, so even if the officer is behaving in the way I described, they don't sustain a finding, then that doesn't serve us.” It could be that the reviews aren’t done thoroughly, so no discrimination is found. Or it could be that officers don’t want to report on each other. “I mean, I was scared to report it because I didn't want to be known as the weak female or the quote unquote snitch or rat.” Stacey Ralph is a former Sheriff’s detective suing the department for sexual harassment “So I think there's this fear of reporting because then everybody looks at you like, ‘oh, I can't work with that person because they're a snitch and they can't take jokes.’” There’s also reluctance to report from members of the republic. Rashawn Ray Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution “The first big issue is that the public does not think that these discrimination claims will be taken seriously. Rashawn Ray is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution. He says people may not want to go into a station or give out personal information to file a report. And even if they do… “Discrimination claims are extremely, extremely hard to prove..and it does oftentimes come down to what a community member said and what a police officer said...00;10;09;07 And that's the reason why video evidence is so, so important and body worn camera evidence is so important.” Video evidence is crucial in these cases. So says Lt. John Boyce, who runs the Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs. He calls it body worn cameras, or BWCs. Lt. John Boyce San Diego Sheriff’s Department Internal Affairs “I can think of several examples where there's an allegation of some insensitive term being used, and when we review the BWC, we clearly see that it never occurred.” He says the low number of discrimation cases is a sign of progress. “I would like to think that it just shows that the deputy sheriffs and employees of the San Diego Sheriff's Department are doing their job impartially and doing what we expect of them.” But community members who deal with police say there is discrimination going on—and more than just Sheriff’s deputies like Andrew Phillips saying things about Germans. CT KPBS News 

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Health officials say the pandemic is becoming more manageable..

Monday the governor announced California’s state of emergency will end early next year, should trends continue..

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman has more on what that could mean for San Diego--

"Certainly you know you can't continue a state of emergency perpetually" Over at UC San Diego Health, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris Longhurst isn’t forecasting a huge impact with the state set to lift it’s emergency response next February.. The state’s top doctor says the threat of the virus is still real, but the current situation is manageable.. Longhurst says it’s clear to him that we’re moving to an endemic stage– "Which means this virus is going to be with us for a while and people who are immunocompromised or elederly or otherwise high risk should maintain that vigilance -- for the rest of us it’s like the winter flu" Locally, health officials say the announcement doesn't change what they are doing now. Vaccines and testing remain available.. MH KPBS News.

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New technology arrived at the border in Otay Mesa yesterday… to deal with the old pollution problem from semi-trucks entering Mexico.

KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen explains.

On an average day … roughly 35-HUNDRED semi-trucks cross the border at Otay Mesa. They are the backbone of California's economy … bringing in goods from south of the border. But they are also a major contributor to pollution … “The trucks are responsible for roughly 50% of all the pollutants that we see in the air in California.” Randall Opfer is an air pollution specialist with the California Air Resources Board. He says these diesel trucks emit particulate matter that is hazardous for your health That’s why CARB developed the Portable Emission Acquisition system or PEAQs. It will allow the agency to screen more trucks to catch ones that don’t meet California’s emission standards and they could be deployed anywhere. AN/KPBS 

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Coming up.... How the Padres’ playoff series against the Phillies is helping out local businesses. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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Student safety is at the top of mind for all schools.

In Valley Center, a new resource is giving schools more peace of mind.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has the story.

Valley Center high school has a new process  for anyone stepping foot on the school campus. The Raptor Security System scans a visitor's ID and prints out a badge. That badge will need to be worn by the visitor at all times while on campus. “It does help account for whos on campus should something occur and it will help with the evacuation process and accounting for anyone we would need to locate.” Litentuant JIm Emig is the station commander at the Valley Center Sheriff's substation. He says the security system has been installed at all of the Valley Center-Pauma Unified schools. The San Pasqual Economic Development Corporation funded the $14,000 program.  TT KPBS News 

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The Padres’ playoff series against the Phillies is bringing big money to local businesses … but it’s not great for fans who want to see the game at Petco Park.

Much like the last series against the Dodgers, resale ticket prices are extraordinarily high – from just under 200-dollars to over one-thousand-dollars per seat.

Felipe Cataquiz bought tickets for himself and his son to watch Tuesday’s game.

“It went up to like $291, so I went ahead and grabbed it. But then they charge you $160 service fees … So all in all it's about almost 800 bucks.”

Yesterday’s and today’s games are played at Petco... and then the park will host watch parties for at least the Friday and Saturday games in Philadelphia.

Then, if more games are needed … game 5 will be the last one on the road before it's back to Petco for games 6 and 7.

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The local arts organization “Write Out Loud's” PoeFest provides audiences with a chance to meet Edgar Allan Poe… the master of such morbid 19th century works as The Raven and The Tell Tale Heart.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando took advantage of this opportunity to speak with Mr. Poe directly to get insights into his work.

That was actor and Poe enthusiast Travis Rhett Wilson speaking with KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando.

“Write Out Loud's” PoeFest continues through the next two weekends at Villa Montezuma Museum, and highlights not just Poe, but also Mary Shelley, Shakespeare and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

A new state law went into effect in January that requires law enforcement agencies to release records about officer discrimination, but most local police departments say they have nothing to report. In other news, new technology arrived at the border in Otay Mesa Tuesday, to deal with the long-time pollution problem from semitrucks entering Mexico. Plus, the Padres’ playoff series against the Philadelphia Phillies is bringing big money to local businesses.