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Police use-of-force

 July 18, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, July 18th.

Police more likely to shoot if suspect is person of color.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The Navy issued a letter of censure Friday, to the former commander of its U-S Pacific Fleet.

It alleged leadership failures by retired Vice Admiral Richard Brown, stemming from the 2020 fire that destroyed the U-S-S Bonhomme Richard in San Diego.

Navy leaders also gave out nearly 30 disposition decisions that included forfeitures of pay and other punishments.

There is an ongoing criminal case against Ryan Sawyer Mays, the sailor charged with arson for allegedly intentionally setting the warship on fire that day.

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An amendment to grant the Congressional Medal of Honor to an Escondido resident and former U-S Naval aviator was approved last week by the House, and now heads to the senate.

97-year-old veteran E. Royce Williams was nominated for the nation’s highest award for heroism.

Williams prevailed in what is believed to be the longest aerial dogfight between a lone American fighter pilot and enemy combatants.

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When you’re mailing a letter, do you look for fun stamps to stick on your envelope?

Well, the U-S Postal Service released a new series of stamps honoring mariachi performers

It's designed by local artist Rafael López who lives and works in both Mexico and San Diego.

There are five stamps to choose from, each featuring a performer dressed in traditional clothing with their instrument.

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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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KPBS analyzed more than 20 years of records relating to use-of-force incidents involving police in San Diego County.

Investigative reporter Claire Trageser found a clear trend – officers are far more likely to shoot if the suspect is a person of color.

A warning, this story has graphic descriptions and sounds.

On an early Tuesday evening in July 2017, La Mesa Police officer Jacob Wisler WISS-ler was searching in City Heights for a man suspected of homicide. Wisler jumped out of his patrol car when he spotted Derrick Henderson walking along Altadena Avenue. Wisler chased Henderson into an alley. He's not showing me his hands. He's not compliant. I thought he was trying to lure me into the alley. This is from an interview Wisler did later with police investigators. He starts digging into his waistband. He is not running. He seemed to be buying time to get something to me that he was trying to get out of his waistband. Moments later, the officer fired several shots at the un-armed Henderson. None of the rounds hit him. Speaker 6 it's kind of a non emergency, but we've got a trespasser, which appears to be a homeless guy. Speaker 5 So he's refusing to leave? Speaker 2 Yeah, he's not wanting to leave. Video from Police videos and audio Railroad folder on Google Drive Roughly two years later, a worker at BNSF Railway on Cesar Chavez Parkway called the San Diego Police Department. When officers arrived, 65-year-old Douglas Nephew grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed them, according to a police report. Police ordered Nephew to stop. Instead, he walked away, first picking up a 10-foot wooden stick, then several railroad spikes. Moments later, Nephew threw a spike at officers, but they never drew their guns. Instead, they used bean bags, pepperballs and finally a police dog to subdue him. Why was Hendersaon shot at, while police used less-than-lethal force on Nephew? That’s impossible to know for certain, as each interaction with police has its own set of circumstances. But there are two clear facts – Henderson is Black and Nephew is white. And what happened to each of them tracks with a long-running trend in San Diego County and across the country. When Police Shoot Suspect is a Person of Color: 68% White: 50% Source: KPBS Analysis of SB 1421 Records A KPBS analysis of records shows that when suspects were people of color, police fired their weapons 68% percent of the time. When they were white, just over 50% of the time. “When we zoom out, we’re not surprised by these findings, right?” DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist with the advocacy organization Campaign Zero. DeRay Mckesson Campaign Zero “The racial disparities show up in almost everything that we measure, in things that we don't measure, we are confident that people’s lived experiences are also true” Similar to the KPBS analysis, research done at USC shows that people of color are shot more often regardless of the circumstances. Brian Finch led that research. Brian Finch USC Researcher “These disparities that you're observing are real and not necessarily just dependent on different types of crime being committed by or different types of stops occurring for different demographic subgroups like black and white citizens.” Several local programs are attempting to tackle these disparities and make it less likely that police use lethal force in general. In March 2019, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan rolled out an eight-hour de-escalation training program for local law enforcement agencies, and now most officers have taken it. Stephan says early signs are encouraging. Summer Stephan District Attorney “Despite the fact that more and more people have guns and now we're seeing that more and more people have also ghost guns. So it is a scary situation out there for officers, a lot more guns on the streets, but we're still seeing the numbers go down a bit which is very encouraging.” But she would want five years’ worth of numbers to say it’s a trend. Local police departments have made their own policy changes, many of them mandated by the state. They include new training on non-bias policing, de-escalation and leadership and community outreach. The SDPD has updated its use-of-force policy to require that officers make specific efforts to de-escalate a situation before drawing their guns. But for many in the community, it’s too little, too late. There’s racism among police officers that can’t be overcome with training, says Darwin Fishman with the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego.. Darwin Fishman Racial Justice Coalition “If he learns Southeast San Diego is where the gang bangers are and you’ve got to keep your head up because they're going to be shooting at you, then yeah, he's going to be more likely to use lethal force there.” Fishman hopes that in a year, police will embrace deescalation the way they first resisted body cameras, but now generally view them as essential to their job. “It can't be smoke and mirrors, there has to be substantial change.” He says that will lead to more trust in the community and fewer people killed. Claire Trageser, KPBS News.

To search the KPBS database and see a map of use of force incidents, go to kpbs dot org slash police records.

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After weeks of COVID case increases, San Diego County is back in the C-D-C’s high risk tier.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman says the more contagious B-A-5 variant is driving up cases and hospitalizations.

it can be said right now that we are moving in the wrong direction and want to put some breaks on it Cameron Kaiser is one of San Diego County’s deputy public health officers.. There have been been multiple days this month where more than two thousand new infections were reported.. The increases are prompting some to reconsider ‘targeted interventions’ to mitigate the spread. Los Angeles County health officials say if they stay in the CDC’s high risk tier for two weeks, universal indoor masking is coming back. San Diego County Health Officials wouldn’t go that far. Kaiser As far as locally the strong recommendation stands. We reinforce that every chance we get including right now and i’ll be saying it more strongly while we’re in the red tier. In the high risk tier CDC officials recommend everyone wear masks indoors.. MH KPBS News.

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A San Diego doctor and a local company that makes prosthetic limbs have partnered to help amputees caught in the war in Ukraine.

KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has the story.

When UC San Diego urologist Menoj Manga heard about the outbreak of war in Ukraine, he just bought a plane ticket, knowing only that he wanted to go there and help. He ended up joining hands with a San Diego startup, called Limber Prosthetics and Orthotics, which creates artificial legs with a three-D printer. Dr. Manga found four men who lost limbs, one of them a double amputee, at rehab hospitals in Ukraine. “So a total of five limbs were delivered altogether. These are regular people. They could have been your neighbors. They left their homes, their lives, their loved ones to go east, to fight. To defend their homeland.” Videos shot at the rehab hospital show the men walking on their prosthetic limbs. Manga said some of them wanted to know when they could go back and fight.

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Coming up.... A petition to stop proposed rooftop solar charges. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

Rooftop Solar advocates hope to energize the public to join a second petition drive to catch the attention of California regulators.

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson has details.

The Solar Rights Alliance has signed up 15-thousand residents and they hope to add tens of thousands more signatures in the coming weeks. Advocates had already enlisted 175-thousand people in their first petition drive, trying to get the California Public Utility Commission and the governor to stop what they call an attack on solar power. Utilities want to charge homeowners steep monthly fees if they have rooftop solar. The Solar Rights Alliance's Dave Rosenfeld says he wants the regulators to listen. “There should be no confusion at the CPUC or the governor’s office about where the public stands, where the non-profit community stands, where communities elected officials and cities and school districts stand. The power companies also want to devalue the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. Erik Anderson KPBS News

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It is now much easier for people to get help if they’re having a mental health or substance abuse crisis… or are considering suicide.

KPBS reporter John Carroll says there’s a new way to access help.

It’s similar to 911… people can now call or text a request for help to 988. That will get them to a trained counselor who can provide help and connect them to services in the area where they live. The director of San Diego County’s Behavioral Health Services Department says moving from a regular phone number to three, easy-to-remember digits will be a game changer. “We estimate that call volume could increase by as much as 150% locally. And so in the most recent county budget, we've actually devoted some additional both staffing and infrastructure tech resources.” Dr. Bergmann says the new 988 service will dovetail in with the county’s Mobile Crisis Response Teams that have been operating for the last couple of months. JC, KPBS News.

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It's a resource unlike any other in North County, and the numbers are showing it's already making a difference.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has the update on One Safe Place.

It's been less than two weeks since One Safe Place in San Marcos opened its doors. But the North County family justice center is already helping people in need. “we've had 137 individuals take advantage and get services at one safe place, the north county family justice Center. District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office led the project. The facility provides help to victims of domestic violence, child or elder abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking. “we've already been able to provide emergency shelter and connections to long term shelter to 30 individuals just in the last nine days, Later this year, events on labor rights, immigration, pet care, and job readiness are also planned for the community at the center. TT KPBS News

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A celebration of life was held for the local black hair pioneer and creator of the Afro pick, Willie Morrow (MAR-oh), who just died at the age of 82.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says more than an inventor, Morrow (MAR-oh) was a pillar of San Diego’s Black community.

Willie Morrow was also an internationally renowned Black hair care stylist whose name became synonymous with the "Afro Pick.” Inspired by a homemade African comb, the Afro pick has long, broad bristles that are perfectly spaced to style an Afro haircut. Morrow died on Wednesday, June 22 in his San Diego home … and Friday, a celebration of life service was held in his honor at the Bayview Baptist Church, of San Diego. He inspired many other Black entrepreneurs like Abdur Rahim Hameed, who spoke at the service. “I saw this big, black Afro pick outside of this beautiful green building. He was a young entrepreneur - he sowed a seed in me.” Morrow’s status rose over time and he styled hair for people like basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan. Now, there’s an effort underway to get a street named in his honor. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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In a number of dazzling images last week, we were lifted out of our everyday problems to gaze upon the universe as we’ve never seen it before.

Nasa called it “a celebration for everyone on earth."

The images from the James Webb Space Telescope took us deep into space and 13 billion years into the past.

San Diego Air and Space Museum used the images as a teachable moment - opening up the wonders of real galaxies far, far away to San Diego’s children.

Becky Gould, education director for the museum, spoke with KPBS’s Maureen Cavanaugh about the images.

That was Becky Gould, San Diego Air and Space Museum education director, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.

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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.

Analysis of records of use-of-force incidents involving police in San Diego County finds officers are far more likely to shoot if the suspect is a person of color. Meanwhile, a local doctor and company that makes prosthetic limbs help amputees caught in the war in Ukraine. Plus, the San Diego Air and Space Museum uses new NASA images as teaching tool.