Morning Report: SDPD Shares Vehicle Tracking Data Far and Wide - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: SDPD Shares Vehicle Tracking Data Far and Wide

A view of traffic along Interstate 8 in Mission Valley. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Thanks to a network of cameras installed throughout the county, San Diego police are able to track the movement of any car by collecting videos of license plates on cars that are parked or in motion, and feeding that data into special computer software. Andrew Keatts reports on how San Diego police have indiscriminately shared that tracking data with over 600 agencies across the country, including Border Patrol and other federal agencies.

Among agencies SDPD shares tracking data with is a small-town police department in Georgia, and a private association of police chiefs in Missouri. SDPD wasn’t aware that the department could choose which agencies to share data with, and initially thought it had no choice on whether to share the data. But the software vendor’s “user manual spells out in detail how agencies can limit access to their data,” Keatts notes.

Meanwhile, the constant tracking of San Diegans’ license plates hasn’t proven to be very effective for solving crime. “Of SDPD’s 493,000 license plate scans in 2016, just one was associated with a felony,” Keatts reports.

Dead Prisoner Investigation

Patch’s Hoa Quách looks into the story of James Leonard Acuna, a Donovan state prison inmate who was discovered dead in his cell in 2017 after at least two days had passed since his death. Acuna was hidden under a blanket and only the smell of decomposition caused guards to investigate.

“Why Acuna’s death went unnoticed despite required headcounts and the fact he was supposed to be administered daily medication in person by a licensed psychiatric technician are just two questions that remain unclear,” Quách writes. This week, corrections officials said the investigation into the matter had concluded and action had been taken against unnamed employees.

ICE Cooperation Silences Immigrants

The Washington Post reports on the efforts of UC San Diego associate professor Tom K. Wong to better understand if so-called sanctuary cities “breed crime,” as President Trump has charged. Wong set up an experiment with undocumented Mexican nationals in San Diego County to find out how they would react to interactions with county law enforcement if they knew officers were working with immigration enforcement.

“If local law enforcement officials were working together with ICE, 60.8 percent said they are less likely to report a crime they witnessed, and 42.9 percent said they are less likely to report being a victim of a crime,” according to Wong. He also notes the participants in similar numbers said they would also cut back on participating in public life or in the economy if local police were working with ICE.

Huge Plan for Midway

San Diego’s Planning Commission is considering a plan to overhaul the Midway District and increase the residential population of that neighborhood from 4,600 to 27,000. “Some of the housing would be reserved for low-income residents and much of it would be geared for those with middle incomes, helping to solve the region’s severe shortage of affordable housing,” reports the Union-Tribune’s David Garrick.

Streets in that neighborhood are widely known for backing up traffic, so the new plan would have to figure out how to get people around by other means, like bike or transit. “Some have lobbied for a tunnel underneath Rosecrans Street to solve the problem,” Garrick writes.

Lightning Round

A police chokehold technique that has been banned by departments in Los Angeles and San Francisco is still allowed in San Diego, and activists here are ready to see the technique retired. (NBC 7)

San Diego State University talks details on how its envisioned 35,000-seat stadium in Mission Valley could someday expand to 55,000 seats should an NFL team ever deign to grace us with its presence again. (Union-Tribune)

UC San Diego is going to study the effects of cannabis extract on children ages 8 to 12 who have a confirmed diagnosis of medium to severe autism. (NBC 7)

Chula Vista faces growing deficits because of pension costs. (Union-Tribune)

It’s the perfect time for Chula Vista and the Port of San Diego to spend $350 million for infrastructure improvements to make way for a new convention center on the Chula Vista Bayfront. (Times of San Diego)

A battle is waging at the county between the government and its employee retirement association over whether the county can start paying lower pension benefits to employees hired after June 30. (CIO)

The University of California’s Board of Regents was thinking about voting on a 2.7 percent tuition increase, but decided against it for now. (Times of San Diego)

It’s time to prep yourself for rattlesnake season, which is upon us. (Times of San Diego)

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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