From potholes to prostitution, the past four months on the public safety beat in San Diego have been diverse. (I started this job in August.) Here are the trends I’ll be watching, some of the questions I’ll be asking and a look back at some of my favorite coverage.

New Trends to Follow:

  • Prescription Drug Abuse: Law enforcement authorities say prescription drug abuse is becoming an epidemic among San Diego teens, but schools haven’t joined the discussion yet. Next year, I’ll start asking, do we see this problem in the classroom and if so, how will schools plan to address it?
  • Prosecuting Pimps: San Diego prosecutors have started accusing people of pimping for the benefit of gangs. It’s a novel concept to see argued in court and no one has challenged it so far. It would be interesting to see whether a jury agrees with the prosecution’s new gang argument if one of these pimping cases ever went to trial.
  • The Impact of Budget Cuts: The City Council has amended its budgets to slice nearly $26 million from its public safety departments that provide police, fire and rescue services. It’s not clear how some of these cutbacks will end up affecting residents or the city’s ability to monitor safety, but I will want to keep asking those questions throughout next year.
  • The New Fire Chief: City officials hired one of San Diego’s own to take over for retiring Fire Chief Tracey Jarman. They approved Javier Mainar for the job and his first assignment was proposing significant budget cuts. With the budget passed, I want to know how Mainar will define his style of leadership in the department and how firefighters react to his command.

Topics to Explore:

  • Beyond Punishment: I want to get a better handle on San Diego’s jails and the impact on San Diegans. Other media have produced some spectacular reports on overcrowding, treatment of prisoners and rehabilitation problems. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or personal stories to share.
  • Bad Doctors: Who are they in San Diego? Please let me know if you’ve had a doctor who shouldn’t be practicing anymore. I’m interested in reporting doctors who are putting people in harm’s way and being missed by regulators.
  • Old Trends to Continue Following:

    • Falling Crime Rates: San Diego Police continue to report unusually low crime rates. It’s puzzled researchers, who have generally assumed that crime has an inverse relationship to the economy. (As the economy falls, crime goes up.) I’ll be collecting more data next year to get a better sense of these crime rates in San Diego.
    • Wildfire Preparation: The shut-off plan proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric failed to pass state utility regulators. The plan remains dormant while the utility organizes a discussion with other business and community leaders about the county’s response to wildfires. These talks will be important to watch because they could play a role in framing San Diego’s plan to address wildfires in the future.

    My Favorite Story:

    • Prostitution Along El Cajon: As a new resident to San Diego, I was fascinated by the concentration of prostitution activities along El Cajon Boulevard. My article on the boulevard tried to tackle how it became the city’s prostitution hotspot. I want to do more of these stories in 2010 that help people understand why they routinely see certain crimes near the same place over and over again. I hope identifying the root of these patterns will help neighborhoods identify solutions.

    If you have any suggestions for my coverage, please let me know. My e-mail address is keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org.

    — KEEGAN KYLE

     

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