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Shooting at moving targets

 November 30, 2021 at 6:00 AM PST

Good morning. I'm Annica Colbert. It's Tuesday, November 30th. What happens when police shoot at moving cars more on that next, but first let's do the headlines. There's growing concern about a new Corona virus variant reported. Last week in South Africa, president Biden has issued travel restrictions for non us citizens from south African countries. Still two cases of OMI. Cron virus have already been detected in Canada. Dr. Davy Smith is an infectious disease expert with UC San Diego health.

Speaker 2: (00:42)

There is a very good chance that the vaccine does not work as well for this variant as it did for other parents. But of course, we're testing that out and we're looking to see if this is true.

Speaker 1: (00:53)

Health experts say the best defense is to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, federal officials are looking into potential boosters targeting the variant. In the meantime, San Diego county public health officials have updated their latest Corona virus data. After the holiday break, they've reported 401 new COVID-19 infections on Monday and 10 additional deaths. San Diego city employees could be fired if they refuse to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The city council voted eight to one on Monday to approve the vaccine mandate proposed by mayor Todd, Gloria police officers have the lowest vaccination rate among city workers at just under 63%. But council member Monica Montgomery step says police in particular bear a responsibility to keep people safe.

Speaker 3: (01:42)

I've received several videos from community members where they have been approached by officers who are unmasked. And it's very concerning to me that there's a one third chance that the officer that they were approached by is not that

Speaker 1: (01:55)

From KPBS, you are listening to San Diego news. Now stay with me for more of the local news. You need Movies and TV shows can often make it seem like police pursuits and officers shooting at moving cars is a regular part of police work. But in reality, it's an incredibly dangerous practice. And for the most part, it's in violation of police department policies and state law, yet KPBS investigative reporter, Claire Tresor found dozens of examples of police officers in San Diego county firing their weapons at moving vehicles and a warning. This story contains graphic sounds and descriptions

Speaker 4: (02:41)

On a cool day in January, 2018, 32 year old, Jessica Turner stole a white pickup truck from the San Diego convention center parking garage. Unfortunately for her San Diego police officers Darious, Jim said G and angel vitreos were in the vicinity. Perfect. Let it off. It's turning around. When Turner made a U-turn, Jim said G jumped out of his squad car and ran toward her videos later described what happened.

Speaker 5: (03:09)

I saw her immediately gun it, she, um, she got left around DJ and the other and the Harbor police.

Speaker 4: (03:20)

Jim said he shot at her from the street videos shot at her through his windshield, shattering the glass. Thankfully none of the shots hit the unarmed Turner and she was arrested a few minutes later. The decision by those officers to shoot at a person in a moving vehicle is one of the most dangerous things they could have done. So says Travis Norton an expert in how police use force

Speaker 6: (03:46)

Stop the vehicle. The vehicle is going to continue to travel and it could strike other people and you could miss and hit somebody else in the public.

Speaker 4: (03:55)

If a bullet hits the driver, the car is likely to continue moving and crash. Bullets can also ricochet off the car or truck and put other lives at risk. This is why police departments ban these shootings except under narrow circumstances. But that reality hasn't stopped officers from firing shots at cars between 2012 and 2018 officers from San Diego county police agencies shot at people in cars, 20 times or three times a year. Officers miss the driver eight times and once hit a passenger. Instead four of the drivers who are hit died and almost two thirds of the shootings resulted in the driver, crashing the car. A new state law enacted in 2020 further restricts. When shooting at cars is allowed San Diego district attorney summer Stephan says it clears up any confusion.

Speaker 7: (04:55)

The standard is clear is that the person in the vehicle has to have committed a felony that that includes a felony that has a potential for serious bodily injury or death. And that if you let them flee, they could commit. They could harm somebody by in a way that would result in serious bodily injury or death.

Speaker 4: (05:20)

The new law was not in effect in 2018 when the officers shot at Turner, but department policy was it states officers shouldn't fire at a vehicle unless there's an immediate threat of death or serious physical harm to the officer or other persons still neither officer was charged or disciplined. In fact, no officers from local departments have ever been charged for shooting at a car and only one officer was disciplined. And in that case, it was because the officer accidentally fired his gun while approaching a suspect in a vehicle. Meanwhile, Turner was not only charged with stealing the truck, but also for using it as a deadly weapon because she drove it toward the officer's records show that when officers are questioned after these shootings, they almost always tell investigators they fired because they felt threatened by the car. This should not be their first instinct says Norton the police trainer,

Speaker 6: (06:23)

If they can get out of the way they should get out of the way. And because that vehicle is going to continue to travel, even though they shoot the driver, if they shoot the driver very hard to shoot a moving target,

Speaker 4: (06:35)

The officers who shot at Turner were asked to justify their decision to

Speaker 8: (06:39)

If she was going to be going straight into traffic without looking, which could potentially cause a collision. You have a lot of motorcycles that go down Harbor as well. So that could have been definitely

Speaker 4: (06:49)

Would that answer DM said she did not clearly state that he felt the unarmed Turner posed an immediate threat of death as the department policy requires. But then Jim said, she's attorney from the police union, cut in and elicited a more specific answer from him. If I may.

Speaker 9: (07:08)

Yes. What did you think would happen if that suspect vehicle got away?

Speaker 8: (07:13)

She was going to kill somebody else

Speaker 1: (07:15)

That was reporting from KPBS, investigative reporter Claire, sir, to search police records and see a map of where these incidents occurred. Go to records,

Speaker 10: (07:30)


Speaker 1: (07:35)

Over the weekend and appeals court granted an emergency injunction to stop the San Diego unified school district vaccine mandate. But district officials now say they believe the injunction will soon be overturned. KPBS education reporter mg Perez has the latest,

Speaker 11: (07:53)

The appeals court granted the injunction on behalf of a Scripps ranch high school student claiming a religious exemption from taking the COVID 19 vaccine, which the district does not allow. The plaintiff is among eligible students 16 and up required to be fully vaccinated by winter break. Paul John represents the student.

Speaker 12: (08:11)

I mean, we want to vindicate our client's rights. If they called us today and said, they're going to add religious exemptions to the mandate. I think we could work something out. Otherwise we're going to pursue this case all the way

Speaker 11: (08:21)

And court late Monday, the district issued a statement by one of its attorneys that said in part we expect the court's brief order will be short-lived. And the primary takeaway is that the court appears poised to uphold the district's vaccination mandate in the face of numerous lines of attack.

Speaker 1: (08:38)

And that was KPBS education reporter mg Perez, San Diego researchers are celebrating the completion of a massive new simulation machine that will help scientists better understand the ocean KPBS environment. Reporter. Eric Anderson has more

Speaker 13: (08:57)

Inside this 120 foot long device. San Diego scientists will be able to recreate conditions found in the open ocean Scripps institution of oceanography researcher. Grant Dean says the machine allows oceanographers to study things that they currently can't.

Speaker 14: (09:12)

The waves affect the biology. The biology drives the chemistry. The chemistry impacts the bubbles in the farm. It's this beautiful.

Speaker 13: (09:21)

The cadence system Dean says the simulator can turn their miniature ocean environment, hot, cold, calm, or stormy script's atmospheric chemist can pray. Ther says the device will help explain how the ocean system impacts the planet. There's a huge feedback

Speaker 15: (09:36)

Between the ocean and the atmosphere. And that's what we're able

Speaker 13: (09:38)

To now study pray there's research. We'll be among the first projects to use the simulator next year, the device cost more than $4 million,

Speaker 1: (09:46)

And that was KPBS environment. Reporter Eric Anderson Coming up during the pandemic. Many universities stopped requiring standardized test scores to apply for admissions and some report. They were pleased with the results.

Speaker 16: (10:04)

I also then realized that it actually ended up producing for us. And then we enrolled probably one of the most talented classes we ever had in terms of their average grade point average. We grew our, our racial and ethnic diversity, um, which has been one of our goals more on that

Speaker 1: (10:18)

Next, just after the break Spurred originally by the disruption of the pandemic. Some local universities stopped requiring standardized test scores and admission applications. Initial data suggests that change played a role in increasing student diversity, but some schools want to see more information and data on enrollments before committing to eliminating standardized tests altogether. At least that's the case at the university of San Diego. Steven poults is the assistant vice president of enrollment management at USD. He spoke with KPBS midday edition host Jay Timon. Here's that interview? What is the

Speaker 17: (11:11)

University of San Diego's current policy? When it comes to standardized tests?

Speaker 16: (11:15)

USD last year implemented a policy where we were not going to look at test scores at all, a policy typically called test free in, in the, uh, in the admissions world. And we've decided to continue that process for this upcoming class, the group that will join us in the fall of 2022. And when was that change made? Well, we've, we've been looking at the role of standardized tests for, for some time now. And in fact, back in March of 2020, just prior to when, uh, the pandemic shut things down USD through and after a long faculty committee and, and research decided that we would join the growing movement of becoming test optional, which would mean we would give the choice of four students if they want it to include their scores or not shortly after that though, as the pandemic took hold. And we realized the incredible unavailability of testing really globally, not just here in the United States, but test centers were closed and students who simply couldn't take the test.

Speaker 16: (12:09)

We made the decision that we would not look at test scores for the entering class of fall 2021. We didn't want students to either put themselves at risk. Certainly they just couldn't get the exam and then take the test. So we decided to go test blind as we went through the process and we admitted this class that just joined us. We actually found to our delight. I think that the test really didn't certainly we knew they didn't really add all that much to the process. That was the result of our, our faculty research in our own research on that, on that. But we also then realized that it actually ended up producing for us. And then we enrolled probably one of the most talented classes we ever had in terms of their average grade point average. We grew our, our racial and ethnic diversity, which has been one of our goals for, for a long time there. So we made the decision that we would continue that process and continue our admissions, our holistic admissions process without the test for another year, as we continue to gather data about its effectiveness. So our decision really has gone back since 2020, but we have been reviewing it on an ongoing basis as we move forward.

Speaker 17: (13:12)

And you mentioned diversity increased. Uh, talk to me more about that. How did the testing policy change this year's incoming freshmen class at USC?

Speaker 16: (13:21)

It seems in a number of ways for us. First of all, we attracted, uh, students from a much wider pool in terms of race and ethnicity. We saw big increases to the degree of about 20% increases in the number of applications we received from our, our Latin X students, as well as our African-American students. Um, in the admissions process, we admitted more students of color than we ever had before. In fact, we admitted more than more than half of our, our students that we admitted were, um, identified as students of color. And we ended up having the most racially and ethnically diverse class that we've ever had close to 44% of our incoming class. Uh, again, we're, um, we're we're minority students, about 23% were Hispanic, about four and a half percent were African-American some of our highest totals that we've ever had. We've known for a long time. There've been huge disparities by race and ethnicity, as well as by family income and other measures on the, on the test score. And I think not having the score allowed more students to feel like this could be a possibility for them. And so we'd encourage them to apply. And in our very holistic application process, it seemed certainly to, um, to, to provide more opportunity for students who might've been, uh, closed out of the process earlier.

Speaker 17: (14:38)

Um, and you, you touched on it a lot, but talk a little bit more about how the sat and act can create barriers for some students, um, in college admissions

Speaker 16: (14:49)

Team. And I've been in admissions now for almost 40 years and I've seen it become so really the, almost the driving factor and kind of a centerpiece in a process that, that it was really never intended to be. Um, the test scores now have certainly become a proxy for many for academic quality. Um, they've been used as cutoffs for scholarships and, and, and, and using a lot of ways that they were never really intended to be used. We know they place an enormous amount of pressure on, on high school students. There's just, it seems to be such a high stakes game that, you know, this one test that you take and clearly the data shows that, uh, again, it, it favors those from families that make more money. Uh, those are, there's a lot of data that, um, I think has come out that, that has really shown the, kind of the, the inequities in the inequalities that, that the test is now becoming this process.

Speaker 16: (15:39)

And so as a result, I think there's a lot of students who simply don't apply to selective schools because of their score. It's a, it's, it's a way for colleges and universities to really focus on, on measures that that don't necessarily predict success in, in, in college. And again, there's a lot of great data out there and research that has shown that by far, in a way, how a student does day in and day out in the classroom, the courses they select their grade point average, or are far more effective at predicting how a student's going to do then than test scores are. So I think that by, by not having test scores in the, in the process, it has really freed up not only the colleges to look at a wider variety of skills and talents and abilities, but it has also opened up more possibility for students to feel like they have an opportunity to get admitted to schools that they might not ever have applied to before.

Speaker 17: (16:26)

And like many universities, USD has not made a final determination as to the future of its testing policy. Explain to us what's being considered.

Speaker 16: (16:35)

W we want to make this decision, um, based, based on data and based on student success. That's ultimately what, what the admissions process is, is to identify students who are going to be successful here and go on and graduate. And so to do that with this class, then now started in September, we're going to look in and analyze how, how well they did this first semester looking at their, their grade point average in our, our first year core curriculum. We're going to look to see, um, how that compares to students who were admitted previously. We're going to look to see how the students who were awarded merit scholarships, how they are fairing in this process. We're going to gather a lot of those data points, and we hope that in the start of the new year, probably by 20, uh, January or February, uh, as we get ready to start to recruit the next year's class will be in a position to make them a much longer term decision about what our testing policy is, but grounded in data grounded in student success. And, um, and again, grounded in best practice that will help us achieve our goals as a university as well.

Speaker 17: (17:35)

And what are you hearing from prospective students about the change?

Speaker 16: (17:39)

I think it's been, I think it's been really positive, certainly from, from USP's perspective, not only from students, but, but also from the high school counseling community as well. One of the things that, that, that has kind of pushed us a little bit more in the direction of being test blind, as opposed to test optional is one of the unintended consequences. I think of the test optional as many, many schools went down that road. Again, given the, given the scarcity of availability of testing is it's sort of created, even though it was intended to maybe make the process easier. It has, in some cases created even more anxiety, uh, for, for, for students in the sense that now they're not sure if they should submit or not. Is it an advantage? Uh, I know they say it's optional, but maybe it's really to my advantage to submit the scores.

Speaker 16: (18:22)

And again, I think that that just sort of helps perpetuate some of the disadvantage of the disparities that we've, that we've seen in this process. So as we move forward, we're really focusing more on just not requiring the test at all, taking out that, that consideration and, and not having a student try to decide which is going to be the better option. But I think by and large students have really found this to be a very, a very liberating, um, part of the process. It's really freed up the, the pressure that, that just, you know, has really driven, um, driven students and parents, and certainly high school counselors, I think, has really added to all the incredible stress that they're, that they're under. And I think it's been really well received. And when

Speaker 17: (19:03)

Well, USD make a final decision on its testing policy.

Speaker 16: (19:08)

Yeah, we, we hope to gather all those data points that I mentioned, um, probably in the start of the new year. And we want to do it in time for that next round of the next group of students who are going to be looking at school. So are we hope to be able to make a more longer term decision about our testing policy? Probably in the February to March timeframe of 2022

Speaker 1: (19:26)

Was Steven poults, the assistant vice president of enrollment management at the university of San Diego. He was speaking with KPBS midday edition, host Jade Hindman, And that's it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS midday edition at noon on KPBS radio, or check out the mid day edition podcast. You can also watch KPBS evening edition at five o'clock on KPBS television. And as always, you can find more San Diego news I'm Annika Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

An examination of local police records shows that from 2012 through 2019, officers from San Diego County police agencies shot at people in moving cars 20 times. That’s despite the fact that police training experts say it is one of the most hazardous things a cop can do. Meanwhile, the injunction against vaccine mandates for the San Diego Unified School District will be short lived, according to legal experts. Plus, during the pandemic many universities stopped requiring standardized test scores for admissions and then racial and ethnic diversity increased on campus.