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Police use-of-force incidents concentrated south of interstate 8

 November 29, 2021 at 9:04 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday, November 29th


Where San Diego police use force
More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….######

Gas prices are unchanged today -- that’s after a19-day streak of gas price increases. Gas has gone up a total of 12-point 5 cents, with the average price of a gallon of gas now at 4 dollars and 67 cents. That’s The highest price since october 2012.


One of California's leading export companies says the supply chain crisis could drag on for another year. Steve Schult is vice-president of the global supply chain for the sacramento-based blue diamond growers. they’re the largest supplier of almonds in the world…

"i think what we are projecting as a recovery is through 2023. we see the congestion continuing with ships, with labor in trucking in the united states to offload and quite frankly labor in warehouses and retailers to stock shelves."


The National Women’s Soccer League just added two new teams, and one of them goes by the name, San Diego Wave FC. So San Diego will have a new home team to root for when the waves begin their first season in March.

Jill Ellis is the former head coach of the US Women's National Team and the team president of San Diego Wave FC. She told KPBS Midday Edition about how the team is building a platform for success.

“You know, what does that look like? It means providing all the resources for our coach, it means, you know, a training facility that's state of the art, its personnel that can support the players, its creating this infrastructure, it creating the environment for fans to want to be a part of.”


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

A look at records for where police shootings have occurred in the city of San Diego reveals a vast disparity. Far more shootings happened south of Interstate 8, in communities where more Black and Latino people live. KPBS Investigative Reporter Claire Trageser gives us a closer look.

And a warning, this story contains graphic descriptions.

In February 2014, San Diego Police Department Officer Kristel Miranda was serving a search warrant at Henry Luis Gonzales’s home. She saw him pull out what she thought was a shiny object in his waistband, so she shot him three times. It turned out to be rings on his fingers.

In May 2016, Thongsoune Vilaysane was driving away from a house police said was used by the Oriental Killer Boys gang. San Diego police officers chased him in their squad car and then shot and killed him.

That same month, members of the department’s gang unit were doing “surveillance at a known gang house on Skyline Drive” and ended up in a shoot-out with suspects. This time no one was killed.

These were among seven police shootings over six years that happened in the 92114 ZIP code in Encanto.

The cluster of cases in Encanto fits into a larger citywide trend, according to a KPBS analysis of 148 SDPD cases between 2005 and 2019 in which officers used force that led to significant injuries or death.

Nearly 69% of the use-of-force incidents occurred south of Interstate 8, and 24.5% were in Southeast San Diego. In addition to Encanto, the ZIP codes with the greatest number of shootings were Logan Heights, Downtown, City Heights.

Khalid Alexander

Pillars of the Community

“Anybody who lives in those communities knows that the police tend to react differently than they do in communities that are north of the 8, communities that have less Black and Brown residents and communities that actually are wealthier.”
Khalid Alexander with Pillars of the Community isn’t surprised by the numbers.
“If they were to treat people in La Jolla or if they were to treat people in Clairemont or Coronado the same way, there would be immediate repercussions to their actions.”

Police shootings almost never happen in San Diego County’s mostly white and wealthy enclaves. Consider that in the 15-year period from 2005 through 2019, the combined total in La Jolla, Poway and Rancho Santa Fe was three. That’s fewer than half as many as there were in Encanto alone, according to the KPBS analysis.

Officials from the San Diego Police Department declined an interview request for this story. In the past, Chief David Nisleit has said there are more arrests in communities of color, but that doesn’t mean it’s discrimination.

“Disparities are going to exist because everything in society doesn't happen along the demographic line. And until that happens, you're going to have disparities. And that's why it's important to understand that disparity does not equal discrimination.”

But Alexander says higher crime statistics in these ZIP codes don’t justify more use of force.

“The idea that there's more crime in Southeast San Diego than there is in La Jolla or other communities is a myth. What you have in Southeast San Diego and those communities are a larger police presence looking for crime.”
The fear factor among police officers must also be taken into account. So says Anne Rios, a defense attorney.
Anne Rios

Defense Attorney

“We also need to be looking at how police view people, do they view them as dangerous, label them as gang members, are they scared?”

In Encanto, five of the seven people shot by police were described as known gang members or associated with gangs before they were shot, according to the police department records.

In the past two years, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan rolled out a de-escalation training program that includes implicit bias training. She says it’s vital.

Summer Stephan

District Attorney

“That is also dangerous because you're now not checking to make sure, do they have a weapon, what's their access, what are they doing? And then bias against a group is also coloring your ability to make intelligent decisions.”

But for activists like Rios, there has already been more damage to San DIego’s South of 8 communities than one deescalation training program can fix.

“This is a public health crisis. In talking to people in areas that I love and live in, it’s incredibly scary, folks are scared of police, scared of living in their own neighborhood.”

That was reporting from KPBS investigative reporter Claire Traegeser. You can search the records and a map of where incidents occurred at KPBS dot org slash police records.


An important COVID-19 vaccination deadline has arrived for eligible students in the San Diego Unified School District. Students 16-years and up must have their first dose by today (Monday) in order to meet a district mandate. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez explains.

The San Diego Unified mandate requires all eligible students 16 years and up to be fully vaccinated by the winter break in December. That means students taking the two-dose shots must have the first one by today. School Board President Richard Barrera…

“The second shot we set a date of December 20th and if you get your first and second shots under those timelines you will be fully vaccinated by the start of the spring semester and able to attend school in person.”

Those students who miss the deadlines will be forced to attend classes online through the district’s virtual academy.


State housing officials are looking for ideas on how to redevelop two blocks of blighted property in downtown San Diego. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says the goal is to build affordable housing.

AB: The state-owned lots just outside Little Italy currently house an aging office building, two dilapidated vacant buildings and parking lots. Earlier this month, the state put out a call to developers interested in building affordable housing and other amenities on the sites. Stephen Russell, head of the nonprofit San Diego Housing Federation, says the large size of the lots makes for endless possibilities that could include child care or a new park.

SR: What they've done is created a laboratory for experimentation. The sector, the affordable housing sector here in town is the most creative set of developers there are because of the challenges that we constantly face.

AB: The state hopes to select a development team by next May.


In February, the Biden administration began winding down former president Donald Trump's controversial remain in Mexico program. It sent people seeking asylum in this country back to Mexico to wait for months for their day in immigration court in the us.

But over the summer, a Texas judge ordered government officials to restart the program.

Now, the Biden administration is preparing to roll it back out in the coming weeks.

Reporter Max Rivlin Nadler tells us that on the San Diego Tijuana stretch of the border... migrants and their advocates are split about what to do….

Sean t is a 23 year old transgender woman. She has been living in a crowded migrant encampment in Tijuana for a month sitting on a wall near her tent. She tells me she fled Honduras two years ago after she was kicked out of her home by her father and leader beaten on the streets because of her gender identity. She has family in the United States, but that's not why she's trying to get there.

Speaker 2: (01:03)

She says they're very religious and won't accept her in Mexico. She says she was briefly abducted by a gang and has been beaten up on the streets of Tijuana

Speaker 2: (01:15)

She says it's just as dangerous to be waiting in Mexico as it was living in Honduras. She's been trying to enter the United States for months to claim asylum. And each time she's been turned back because of a us policy known as title 42, that blocks almost all people from crossing the border during the pandemic. But Shantelle is still trying to find a safe way to seek refuge in the U S which you might get. There's the resumption of one of the most dangerous policies of the Trump administration for over a year before the pandemic, more than 60,000 migrants were placed and remain in Mexico, officially known as the migrant protection protocols, but the group human rights first counted more than 1500 reports of rape murder and other violence against asylum seekers. In the program,

Speaker 4: (02:04)

We are living in conditions that are best described like a prolonged episode of the hunger games while trying to fight their case.

Speaker 2: (02:17)

That's Nicole Ramos. She's a lawyer with outro lotto. One of the few groups that provides legal services to migrants in Tijuana, waiting in Mexico border cities is not only dangerous C says, but it makes it almost impossible to find a U S lawyer and less than 1% of migrants actually won their asylum case. While enrolled in remain in Mexico, the Biden administration asked Ramos's organization, along with others to help humanely reimplement remain in Mexico. They refused.

Speaker 4: (02:48)

We are not going to touch that program. We feel like our resources are better used conducting human rights monitoring and interviews and looking at to destroy the program while the Biden administration agrees, it should end the court order to reinstate. It has officials negotiating with the Mexican government to resume the program in the next few weeks and lawyers in San Diego say they've been told that immigration judges and courtrooms are already prepared. Kate Clark, lawyer, Jewish family service in San Diego says this leaves legal service providers in a difficult spot.

Speaker 6: (03:24)

You can't make an inhumane program humane that's the Heartland,

Speaker 2: (03:28)

But once migrants are placed in remained in Mexico, she says there are a few ways. Lawyers can try to get them out of the program and into the U S to continue their asylum case.

Speaker 6: (03:39)

We're involved with stiffening pro requests. That's sort of, um, for us to consider

Speaker 2: (03:46)

At the Casa Del LMI grantee shelter on a hill beside the Tijuana river, Kathy Krueger assists migrants each day, if people are placed in remain in Mexico, she will provide them with legal assistance because she knows their options are limited.

Speaker 5: (04:02)

So you want to do it. You just have to try to facilitate them for a smooth way of doing it. Everything that they went through, made them take that decision

Speaker 2: (04:14)

At the migrant and Cameron, just feet away from the border wall. Sean Paul and others feel that time is running out. There are plans to close the camp in the coming weeks. Shantelle says she needs to take a step. Any step to begin her asylum claim. You're the old guest. He is

If there is a chance at asylum in the U S even a slim one, she has to take it. She shows me a photo on her phone of how she feels most comfortable.

Wearing makeup, a long dress, a completely different look, but here she's in a sweatshirt and jeans trying to keep a low profile. She knew it was entering the remain in Mexico program. Won't get her out of Tijuana immediately, but it may be the only concrete step she has right now for the California report. I'm Max Rivlin Nadler in Tijuana.

And that was Max Rivlin Nadler reporting for the California report in Tijuana.


Coming up.... The new San Diego County Registrar of voters was confirmed recently, and not a moment too soon. They’ll be overseeing a major transition in how San Diegans vote.

After serving as interim registrar for months, Cynthia Paes has been named as San Diego County’s new registrar of voters. She replaces long-time registrar Michael Vu, who is now serving as the county’s assistant chief administrative officer.

Paes takes on the top elections job as the county launches a new system of vote centers to replace neighborhood polling people more options on how and when they want to cast their ballots. And her term also begins as election results are challenged like never before.

Cynthia Paes recently spoke with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Kavanaugh. Here’s that interview.

Now I know you've been working on county elections in the registrar's office for several years. How do you think that prepared you to become registered?

Speaker 2: (00:52)

So fortunately, um, I'm stepping into a role within a county that has administered successful open fair elections for a long time. So I'm coming from a history of successful elections to continue in that same vein. What's exciting. Moving forward is the implementation of the voter's choice act and the vote center model. So it's providing more options for voters to cast their ballot and more services at vote centers over multiple days.

Speaker 1: (01:30)

Can you remind us about the range of responsibilities you have as registrar of voters?

Speaker 2: (01:35)

We're responsible here at the registrar voters for administering all statewide and local elections for San Diego county. We also maintain the voter registration files and file maintenance as well as the petitions process.

Speaker 1: (01:54)

So that's all under your purview. So to speak, the county has recently approved some major changes in the way in-person polling will be done. About 200 votes centers will replace neighborhood polling places. As I mentioned earlier, how is that new idea coming along?

Speaker 2: (02:11)

So fortunately, um, this has been introduced to San Diego county voters in the November presidential general election in 2020, as well as the recent recall election in 2021, because of the global pandemic, we administered both elections under a, a vote center type model. So for both of those elections, we had 200 plus large voting locations open for multiple days, and we mailed every active, registered voter in San Diego county a ballot. So it has been introduced to our voters and we are joining over 60% of the state of California who has already moved to the vote center model

Speaker 1: (02:59)

And have the permanent vote center sites been

Speaker 2: (03:02)

Chosen. We're in that process right now. So we are looking at the locations that we used in both the presidential general and the recall election. And we're also starting, um, a very robust public consultation period where we seek suggestions and, and comments from the public related to citing these fully accessible vote centers, as well as mail ballot Dropbox locations.

Speaker 1: (03:31)

And because this idea is relatively new to all San Diego, can you explain how those centers will be different from the usual polling places

Speaker 2: (03:41)

And the neighborhood polling place model? So in the March presidential primary in 2020, we operated that election under the traditional neighborhood polling place model. This is where a voter is assigned to a location and they must go to their assigned poll location. If they go to a different location, then they would need to vote provisionally. Um, because most likely that location would not have their correct ballot type. And the November presidential general, we had over 4,000 variations of the ballot. And in that vote center type model, we were able to provide all of those variations of the ballot at each those center across the county. So a voter can go to any vote center and cast their ballot. It will also be open for multiple days. So in those past two elections voting locations were open for four days, going into the vote center model. We will have some locations open for 11 days and all of the locations, 200 plus locations will again be open for the four days. In addition, every active registered voter will receive a ballot in the mail. They can return that ballot by mail, or they can drop it off at any vote center or one of 130 plus mail ballot, Dropbox locations across the county that are open for nearly a month.

Speaker 1: (05:15)

And how do you intend to counter some of the doubts surrounding election results?

Speaker 2: (05:21)

My goal is to have a more robust website and media presence, more social media, as well as pushing out accurate information for all voters to access on our website. I think that if we increase the messaging, provide awareness to voters on how elections are conducted and the fair, accurate way elections officials conduct elections. So that is my goal. It's just to push out and make accurate information more available for voters to, to read and share.

Speaker 1: (06:04)

And Cynthia, what's intriguing about this registrar's job

Speaker 2: (06:08)

For you. When I came to elections, it was just that the concept of providing the forum for individuals to cast their ballot, um, just the idea of that direct contact with, with the public and providing that forum for democracy to take place, uh, is what intrigued me to come over to the registrar's office. I mean, every election I communicate with with hundreds of public observers that, that come and observe every aspect of the elections process that are, um, true warriors in elections, transparency, and being able to share with them in person, what we do it, it fills me with such pride. That's what I truly enjoy the participation, uh, the forum that we provide.

That was Cynthia Paes the San Diego county registrar of voters, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host maureen Kavanaugh.

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.

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A KPBS analysis of police records shows more than two-thirds of use-of-force incidents over a 15-year period occurred in ZIP codes south of Interstate 8. And nearly a quarter were concentrated in just a handful of neighborhoods in the southeast part of the city. Meanwhile, as the Biden administration plans a re-start of the controversial Remain in Mexico program that sends asylum seekers back across the border, immigrant advocates are split over whether or not to help. Plus, KPBS speaks with Cynthia Paes now that she’s been officially confirmed as the new San Diego registrar of voters.