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Morning Report: Bill Targets SDPD Juvenile DNA Loophole

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher introduced a bill targeting a San Diego Police Department policy that permits officers to collect DNA  from minors without the knowledge or consent of their guardian [1].

The proposed legislation comes after VOSD contributor Kelly Davis revealed SDPD’s practice last year. Davis wrote about a case of a group of black teens who were detained by police after a basketball game at the Memorial Park rec center, which is in Gonzalez Fletcher’s district.

Police searched the boys and swabbed each of their mouths for DNA after the search turned up an unloaded gun in one of the boy’s duffel bags.

State law already limits when police can obtain a DNA sample from a minor.

But the San Diego Police Department found loophole by maintaining a local database that’s not shared with state or federal DNA databases. SDPD’s policy says officers can collect DNA from anyone for “investigative purposes.”

Prosecutors charged one of the boys with possessing a firearm, but a juvenile court tossed the case after officers admitted they lacked probable cause to search the boy’s bag.

E-mails Detail Breakdown Between Fire Chief and Lifeguards

San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy is trying to further integrate firefighters and the city’s lifeguards – something the lifeguards aren’t happy about.

VOSD’s Ashly McGlone obtained some of Fennessy’s e-mails that reveal how tense the relationship between the fire chief and lifeguards has become. [2]

Fennessy, in the e-mails, made clear that the lifeguard contract must change, even celebrating one change he made to 9-1-1 emergency dispatch that wouldn’t comply with the lifeguards’ contract with the city, writing “this will rock their world!”

The lifeguards voted last month to leave the fire department after being under its leadership for roughly 20 years. But before lifeguards can form their own city department they need approval from the mayor and City Council.

Rain Round-up

A fierce Pacific storm hit San Diego early Tuesday, dumping much-needed rain on the region.

The majority of rain fell in the early morning and NBC7 reported that as of noon, Ramona, Oceanside, and Bonsall reported more than two inches of rain [3]. Poway, Julian, and Rancho Bernardo received more than 1.5 inches and Encinitas, Potrero, Santee and La Mesa all had gotten more than an inch.

The San Diego International Airport received 1.34 inches [4], reported the Union-Tribune.

The weather toppled a large sign [5] above a National City Church, damaging a marquee in front of the building, but caused no injuries, according to 10news.

The rain picked up again in time for Tuesday’s evening commute with high wind advisories.

Crackdown on Pot Deliveries

San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate is asking local law enforcement to crackdown on illegal marijuana delivery services [6].

In a memo to City Attorney Mara Elliott requesting tougher enforcement, Cate highlighted Weedmaps, an online marijuana marketplace of local delivery services, reports VOSD’s Jesse Marx. He also sent a letter to the company, requesting “your voluntary compliance to cease the advertising of marijuana delivery services considered illegal under San Diego municipal code.”

Delivery services had long been operating in a legal grey area before Jan. 1, when laws governing them took hold. Only permitted dispensaries are now allowed to provide delivery services, leaving hundreds of independent operators the choice [7] between closing their businesses or operating illegally.

Culture Report: Queen Califia Turns 15

Niki de Saint Phalle’s “Queen Califia’s Magical Circle”– an iconic, large-scale colorful mosaic sculpture garden in Escondido – is turning 15 this year.

In this week’s Culture Report, VOSD’s Kinsee Morlan looks at the cost and effort Escondido has put into maintaining the high-profile piece of public art and how the city is preparing for its 15th anniversary. [8]

Also in this week’s arts and culture news round-up, the La Jolla Music Society has vacancies to fill, “Hamilton” has arrived in San Diego and the San Diego Symphony is inching closer to approval for its proposal to build a 10,000-seat permanent stage at the Bayfront park.

Quick News Hits

• The new Convention Center measure allows for non-contiguous expansion [9], which would allow for a separate structure or “annex.” (Union-Tribune)

• President Donald Trump will have to re-nominate San Diego hotelier Doug Manchester for U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas [10]. (Union-Tribune)

• District 3 County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar has been elected chair of the Board of Supervisors. [11] (Times of San Diego)

• Mexican officials have arrested a suspect in the fatal shooting of Douglas Bradley [12], an Imperial Beach official who was killed while vacationing in Guerrero. (KPBS)

• San Diego’s flu death toll doubled [13], jumping from 45 to 91 cases. (Union-Tribune)

• Several citizens’ initiatives have come forward to try and reform San Diego Unified school board elections [14]. (KPBS)

• James Dolan, a San Diegan and computer security expert who co-created SecureDrop, tragically passed away at age 36 [15]. (Freedom of the Press Foundation)

• The County Board of Supervisors approved a new class of future employees that will earn lower retirement benefits than current employees [16].