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Police reform in California

 October 4, 2021 at 8:01 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, October 4th.

new training is on the way for San Diego police. More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….


San Diego county health officials reported 343 new covid-19 infections on Sunday and no new deaths. The number of people hospitalized with the virus is continuing to decline according to state figures. Booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for those who are eligible are now available at about 400 locations county-wide.


A large oil spill in Orange County over the weekend is not expected to reach the San Diego coastline. That’s according to the National Weather Service. The oil slick affected Huntington and Newport Beach areas with roughly 126,000 gallons spilled from an offshore oil rig. It caused major ecological damage and officials closed the Huntington Beach area to people.


As of October 1st, mail delivery times are taking longer. It’s part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's plan to cut costs. Normally it takes three days to send a card from California to New York, now it’ll take 5 days.

Miro Copic is the founder of bottom line marketing and a marketing lecturer at SDSU. He says consumers should be aware of the possible consequences:

“For consumers we are talking about potentially receiving bills late. and so if there is late delivery of bills, you might incur a late fee. it means that your checks might come later than you would like.”

Around 40% of first class mail will have an impacted standard delivery time.


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

Changes are coming to local police departments after two new laws were signed last week by Governor Newsom. One will limit police use of projectiles during protests...the other will create a more robust police accountability system. KPBS reporter Cristina Kim says local advocates say these changes are long overdue.

A new law authored by San Diego Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez prohibits police from using rubber bullets, bean bags and tear gas during a protest unless someone’s life is in danger… It will take effect at the end of this year.

Khalid Alexander is founder of Pillars of the Community, a local nonprofit that’s been advocating for police reform for years. He’s relieved to see the new law… after a nearly replica bill failed to pass last year.

There are very few kind of laws that I think go far enough. Having said that, I think it's important that we celebrate all of the steps, no matter how small and how incremental they are.

The law also requires more training for police on how...and when…. to use less lethal weapons. That’s badly needed, says Travis Norton, a police use of force trainer.

It’s not OK just to go out to the range and just fire off a couple impact munitions and call it a day and say that’s a great training program, let’s talk about the decision to even fire in the first place.

Governor Newsom also signed another law that creates a decertification process for police officers convicted of wrongdoing.

Both laws will take effect on January 1, 2022.


Another new law from the state government -- reforms to California's conservator-ships, was also signed into law by Governor Newsom last week. This follows the fight by britney spears to take over control of her estate from her father. kpbs editor thomas fudge has more.

The new law comes as a Los Angeles judge suspended Spears' father, Jamie Spears, from the conservatorship that has controlled the singer's career and financial decisions for 13 years. The bill, signed by Governor Newsom, requires conservators who oversee an estate valued at more than a million dollars to register as a professional. The new law also creates a civil penalty of up to 50,000 dollars if a court finds a conservator has not acted in the best interest of the client. Other states are taking similar steps. New Mexico created an independent review process to oversee conservatorships. And Oregon is ensuring that anyone, placed under a guardian, gets free legal help.


The public advocates office for the California’s Public Utilities Commission says a statewide standard for wireless and broadband service is badly needed.. CapRadio’s Mike Hagerty tells us why..

The C-P-U-C’s Public Advocate’s Office says wide variations in service, quality and reliability of wireless and broadband communications in California can no longer be tolerated.

Ana Maria Johnson is Program Manager of the Advocate’s Communications and Water Policy Branch.

“Service quality standards have not kept pace with the services customers use today. Currently, the service quality standards are only applied to your traditional phone line.”

Those traditional phone lines, or landlines, are increasingly rare. An AT&T study from five years ago found that 85 percent of California homes no longer had a landline. And last year, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services reported that 81 percent of 9-1-1 emergency calls came from wireless phones.

In Sacramento, I’m Mike Hagerty.


Coming up.... Marines arrived home on Sunday from a difficult and deadly deployment to Kabul. And, a new survey finds that Black, Latino, and Asian military service members feel unwelcome off-base. Many are advocating for more vocal inclusion efforts. We’ll have those two stories next, just after the break.

Waves of Marines are coming home to Camp Pendleton, after a harrowing deployment defending the airport in Kabul. KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh was at one family reunion.

281 Marines from the 2nd Battalion 1 Marine Division arrived Sunday to a hero’s welcome - part of the 1,000 Pendleton Marines sent to Kabul in August. Over the last couple weeks, parts of the unit have been filtering back to southern California from the Middle East, after leaving Kabul at the end of August.

The battalion lost nine Marines along with a Navy Corpsman assigned to the unit during an attack outside the airport, making them among the last American’s killed in the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan. Another 15 Marines were being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center. Two Marines are still hospitalized.

The entire unit originally deployed in April. The company involved directly in the Aug. 26 attack arrived quitely, in the last couple weeks. Steve Walsh KPBS News.


While the military has become more racially diverse, a recent survey found Black, Latino, and Asian service members don’t always feel welcome off-base -- in their civilian host communities.

Desiree Diorio reports for the American Homefront Project.

The Association of Defense Communities conducted the survey - asking service members and their families what they think about the towns and cities they call home, outside the gate.

Matt Borron is executive director of the group, which connects military bases with their host communities.

“The conversation started with the murder of George Floyd, the unrest and protests over the summer.”

Almost every Black military spouse who was surveyed reported unequal access to employment, and said the criminal justice system is unfair.

“It's not surprising that these communities reflect what's going on in society.”

Some Black and Hispanic families say sometimes, they don’t even feel safe off base. Borron says that can make or break a service member’s decision to stay in the military.

“They're making career decisions, you know, they'll leave the military rather than go to someplace where they don't feel safe.”

Now, some local civilian communities say they want to fix that.

Karockas Watkins is with the Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce in northern Alabama. It's one of several chambers across the country that encouraged local military families to participate in the survey.

“Some of the findings are in line with what we see in the United States all over. We had several people who felt actually there was no issues of race here. And we had on the other hand some that feel like we need more education, and that justice is not being served.”

Watkins says the chamber plans to increase diversity through a mentoring program and grants for minority-owned businesses, and roundtable discussions to learn more about the needs of military families.

“A lot of times we assume we know what people want, what they need, and so we want to hear it from them.”

Jennifer Brantley is a lawyer and an entrepreneur. She says the survey results are pretty much in line with her own experiences as a Black professional married to an Air Force chaplain. They've lived in Georgia, Nebraska - and now are overseas in London.

“Little comments, microaggressions in the workplace, outright inappropriateness — as a minority, you feel like you just have to sit there and take it. Or if you say anything, you become the bad guy or the angry black woman trope.”

Brantley says the lack of diversity she saw in military communities led her to develop FindMe Mobile, an app that connects Black and Hispanic military members with local businesses like hair salons and restaurants.

“And it's more than haircare for minorities. We need something that makes us feel safe, where we know both our presence and our dollars will be welcome. And I'm like, well how about an app?”

But she says the path to equity is more complicated than an app, or roundtable chats.

“I think it's more about education versus talking to people and talking at people. Every effort is appreciated, but we need to figure out - what can we do to get to actual change, to get to people's hearts, to get to people's minds.”

Matt Borron at the Association of Defense Communities says local inclusion efforts are important, but the military’s top leaders also need to act.

“It can't just be at the local level, because installation leadership might feel that they don't necessarily have top cover, that they should probably steer clear if it's controversial.”

Borron is supporting an effort in Congress that would require the Defense Department to... survey military families every other year about the racial climate in defense communities.

I’m Desiree Diorio, on Long Island.

That was Desiree Diorio reporting from Long Island. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Changes are coming to local police departments after two new laws were signed last Thursday by Governor Gavin Newsom. Following the case of Britney Spears, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a new law that will reform California's conservator-ships. Plus, marines return home from a harrowing journey guarding the airport in Kabul.