Morning Report: Library Death Highlights Its Role as Social Services Hub - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Library Death Highlights Its Role as Social Services Hub

San Diego’s Central Library / Photo by Sam Hodgson

The city has for years grappled with mental health and homelessness crises and the Central Library, located in the neighborhood long considered the region’s hub for homeless services, has been thrust onto the front lines of those challenges. 

A 49-year-old man killed himself inside the Central Library last week, leaving librarians and patrons who were there shaken by the incident. The suicide follows three other attempts at the library since the beginning of the year and as VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt reports, librarians have also reported increasingly tense interactions with patrons in recent years as the surrounding area has struggled to cope with homeless San Diegans struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

In response to escalating challenges, the city has deployed specially trained guards at the Central Library that some regular library visitors told Halverstadt seem to be helping to address issues there. 

City officials have also ramped up mental health first aid and safety training for library employees to help them cope, and worked with the county and local nonprofits to increase services and outreach for homeless San Diegans and people with serious mental illnesses who come to the library.

Gun Confiscations Have Increased Drastically Statewide, Thanks to San Diego

California police sharply increased gun confiscations last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Law enforcement agencies seized the weapons from people who were subject to gun violence restraining orders, under a law that went into effect in 2016.

Courts approved petitions to confiscate weapons from 424 people in 2018, according to California’s Justice Department. That is up significantly from 2017, when 104 such orders were issued, and 2016, when there were 86.

San Diego has become a leader in implementing gun violence restraining orders, as VOSD’s Sara Libby has reported.

A proposed bill by Assemblyman Phil Ting noted that San Diego is largely responsible for the increase in gun violence restraining orders: “Last year, 424 GVROs were issued throughout the state. San Diego County accounted for the majority of the increase with 185 orders issued.”

The new state budget allocates $250,000 to the San Diego city attorney’s office to conduct gun violence restraining order trainings statewide.

  • The New York Times similarly highlighted the San Diego city attorney’s office for its work on gun violence restraining orders in a story about so-called “red-flag” firearm regulations. “In San Diego alone, the city attorney, Mara Elliott, has obtained about 300 orders in the past two years that have allowed the police to confiscate 400 firearms, including 40 military-style rifles. The city has been the most aggressive in California at exploiting the state’s three-year-old red flag law.”

District 1 Supervisors Race Takes Shape

State Sen. Ben Hueso officially announced his candidacy for San Diego County Board of Supervisors District 1 in a press release Thursday.

District 1 – the seat covering the South Bay, which has been long held by Supervisor Greg Cox – has four candidates in the running, and they’re all Democrats.

In addition to Hueso, there’s Rafael Castellanos, an attorney and chair of the Port of San Diego, Nora Vargas, a Southwestern Community College Trustee and executive at Planned Parenthood, and Sophia Rodriguez, a Human Services specialist for the county.

Castellanos raised the most of the candidates so far.

Rodriguez, did not meet the $2,000 committee threshold by June that would have required her to file a campaign finance report, the U-T reported last week.

Chula Vistans Think Their Crime Problem Is Worse Than it Actually Is

The results of a survey from the Chula Vista Police Department and the San Diego Association of Governments highlights a disconnect between what Chula Vista residents think is happening in their city and what is actually happening.

While crime has decreased in the city, writes VOSD’s Adriana Heldiz, the majority of residents think it’s either increased or remained unchanged.

The messaging from city officials themselves may be adding to the confusion, Heldiz writes. While advocating for Measure A in 2018, a sales tax increase meant to raise funds to hire more police officers and firefighters, city leaders stressed the need for more officers to fight and bring down crime.

Preparing for Mass Shootings That Could Happen in Our Schools

In light of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, VOSD’s Will Huntsberry takes a look at how law enforcement prepares for mass shootings at schools.

Just last week, Huntsberry writes, a Department of Homeland Security-funded training took place at Bella Mente Montessori Academy in Vista. Twenty officers from around the region took part in active shooter simulations inside the school, where Marines from Camp Pendleton acted as potential victims, casualties and even the shooter. Participants fired blanks from real guns.

Huntsberry spoke with a security consultant and combat veteran, who helped organize the event for his bi-weekly education newsletter, the Learning Curve.

“Even though it was not a real scenario, I could see that hallway and I could see the school,” writes Huntsberry. “What was a fake drill in Vista also happens to be a very real situation that very real students in the United States of America face.”

Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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