- Voice of San Diego - https://www.voiceofsandiego.org -

Morning Report: Another Report Finds Disparate Police Treatment

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit speaks at a press conference announcing the release of a study analyzing SDPD data. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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For years, the San Diego Police Department has argued that the racial disparities arising in stop and force data are not evidence of discrimination. The city has also portrayed past studies as politically motivated or lacking context for not taking into consideration a full range of factors.

Yet a new report commissioned by the department and produced by an outside think tank comes to a similar conclusion as those previous analyses [2]: People of color are more likely to be stopped and more likely to experience force.

Basically, the debate is over whether you can infer racial bias from disparate police treatment. City leaders and the group that produced the report argue that you cannot. 

For months, Voice of San Diego has been trying to get a copy of the report, which was completed in April, but the city denied that request, essentially arguing its early release was not in the public interest until officials had time to review and post it. Instead, officials held a press conference Thursday and provided reporters there with a link to the report online.

When asked for his thoughts, Mayor Todd Gloria was unclear on whether he believed that racial disparities in police data amounted to racial bias, but portrayed the new report as a chance for “the public to come tell us how we can do better.”

Despite the pushback to past analyses, the city has implemented a series of reforms over the last year. Going forward, SDPD said it will revise its search policy, create a new procedure for interactions with transgender and gender non-binary individuals, and begin collecting information about when an officer shows “less-lethal” force (in the form of a Taser or baton) but doesn’t deploy it. 

Sports Arena Development Deal Is Dunzo

The Union-Tribune broke the news Thursday that the city has scrapped its plan [3] to allow a developer to overhaul the area around the Sports Arena into an urban entertainment district.

The decision came after the state Department of Housing and Community Development confirmed earlier this week that a city deal with Brookfield Properties would violate the recently amended Surplus Land Act, which now mandates that local governments give affordable housing developers a first crack at such offerings.

The news comes nearly three months after VOSD’s Andrew Keatts revealed that the city had paused talks with Brookfield [4] to redevelop the nearly 50-acre Midway site as it awaited state guidance on a late 2019 change to state law that the city had overlooked.

Now Mayor Todd Gloria says he plans to restart the process – and he’s dinging former Mayor Kevin Faulconer for the hiccup.

“This is yet another example of a flawed real estate deal from the previous administration where San Diegans are now left with little to show for a significant investment of time and resources,” Mayor Gloria wrote in a Thursday statement. “I am committed to work quickly to restart this process in compliance with the Surplus Land Act. It is critical that we do not squander this once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a modern arena through a process that prioritizes the affordable housing our region desperately needs.”

Indeed, the Sports Arena fail is the latest real estate deal turned debacle from Faulconer’s time as mayor. Lisa Halverstadt previously catalogued [5] three other deals that suffered from a lack of scrutiny, costly delays and uncertainty for city employees and taxpayers.

Staffing Shortages, Communication Issues Plague Summer School’s Start

Summer school enrollment at San Diego Unified and other districts is at record highs [6], CalMatters reports, as the state provided billions of dollars to schools to combat learning loss from the pandemic. At San Diego Unified, 22,000 of 98,000 students have enrolled for summer school. Fewer than 3,000 students enrolled for summer school in the summer before the pandemic.

But districts, including San Diego Unified, have also been facing challenges with suddenly offering expanded summer programs, including staffing.

“Districts statewide have struggled to recruit enough teachers who are willing to work through the summer after an exhausting school year, even with the additional financial incentives,” CalMatters notes.

Parents told Voice of San Diego they’ve had communication issues with San Diego Unified when it comes to summer school. Many didn’t hear details about their student’s summer program until late this week. Some still haven’t heard. Summer school begins Monday.

Greg Block only heard from his daughter’s guidance counselor about her summer school on Wednesday afternoon – after Block tweeted [7] about how he had gotten no confirmation or information. That left Block and his wife only a few days to adjust their schedules to figure out how to drop off and pick up their daughter from Clairemont High School because Point Loma High School, where she attends school, wasn’t going to have a summer program.

“Ultimately, I think they will do a good job,” Block said of the summer program, but the lack of communication was frustrating. “Keeping people in the dark isn’t the best way to handle this.”

Mandy Parry had a similar issue when she signed her 5-year-old up for summer school and PrimeTime, an extended day program. She didn’t hear her child got into PrimeTime until this week and was frustrated that she and her husband, who both work full time, weren’t notified sooner so they could plan around their child’s summer schooling.

Parry was also unable to get her 5-year-old into any of the summer camps for enrichment – another common problem VOSD’s Will Huntsberry highlighted in his latest Learning Curve [8].

“Families are receiving confirmation of their child’s Level Up SD enrollment status this week,” San Diego Unified spokesman Mike Murad told VOSD. “For those that still have questions, the district will be establishing a troubleshooting hotline on Monday, 6/21.”

News Roundup

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx and Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.