The San Diego Police Department is under a lot of pressure as city leaders prepare to appoint a new police chief. You may know about some of the controversies, like sexual misconduct allegations.

Here’s another: Some residents complain that the department’s anti-gang unit carries itself like a gang, lording over the city’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods and treating ordinary people with disrespect.

“The gang suppression team, they roll like a mob,” says a local minister. “They roll deep. They roll three, four, five cars. They’re very disrespectful. Matter of fact, in my opinion, sometimes they think they’re above reproach.”

In a new story, we examine concerns about the department’s gangs unit and hear from a police lieutenant who grew up in southeastern San Diego and understands how young people feel when they’re pulled aside: “You just feel powerless because no one has explained anything to you and you just learn to live your life that way.”

Surprise: Barnett Won’t Run for School Board Again

Who knows, maybe we were the kiss of death: Just last week, we profiled Scott Barnett‘s lone-wolf stances. Now, he says via Facebook that he won’t run to keep his seat this year: “trying to be a responsible and productive Board Member on behalf of the students, employees and taxpayers, I have been required to use much emotional, intellectual, and physically energy, which has interfered from meeting my personal, family and professional goals. I need to put my own life first again.”

The Incredibly Shrinking Balboa Park Centennial

It was going to be a $100 million shindig at first. Then a $50 million celebration. Now, the Balboa Park centennial party — celebrating the 100th anniversary of the fair that made the park what it is now — has shriveled to a $2 million event amid controversy and staff turnover, NBC San Diego reports.

Soon-to-Be Mayor’s Bold Early Game

Kevin Faulconer won’t be sworn in as mayor until today, but he’s already taken the reins by orchestrating the pending appointment of a new police chief. In a new story, we examine some big issues he’ll need to tackle soon.

The U-T also examines the big issues he’ll face, plus the inevitable conflicts with the City Council.

On Tap: Meeting of the Minds

Our seventh Meeting of the Minds cultural event is coming up on March 19 at Liberty Station in Point Loma. Get the details here: We’ll have speakers offering glimpses at things made in San Diego: beer, public art, a medical device, WD-40 and sound-based art.

VOSD Radio: Meet the Guru of News

The VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast features CUNY journalism professor and news industry expert Jeff Jarvis, who explains the big problems in the media and offers some solutions.

One of the obstacles to quality coverage, he said, is repetition, even in these days of more limited resources in the media: “The best journalists are a finite resource. We should put them where they’re most needed and most valuable,” he said.

Quick News Hits

• VOSD’s quest to understand the effect of the “Blackfish” scandal on SeaWorld is drawing a heavy response from readers. Our first story dipping into the issue was the most popular on our site last week. You can read the full Top 10 most-popular story list here.

• The U-T checks in with a man who was released from prison after eight years when DNA results showed he wasn’t responsible for a sexual assault in Lemon Grove.

The man’s “case is instructive for its problems — questionable eyewitness identifications, mishandled evidence, overlooked cellphone records — but also for its solutions: the intervention of the San Diego-based California Innocence Project, increasingly sophisticated forensic testing and a district attorney’s office ultimately more interested in justice than in winning,” the U-T reports.

• San Diego, Poway and other local cities may have dumped red light cameras, but a few other cities think they’re great, the U-T reports.

• Fanboy and fangirl alert!! The first two minutes of the “Veronica Mars” movie (out in theaters and online March 14) is now available on YouTube. It’s a retrospective look at the storyline from the “Veronica Mars” TV show, which was filmed in San Diego: Look closely and you’ll spot a few local places.

• Sports Illustrated is out with a story examining how San Diego considered a floating stadium anchored in Mission Bay in the 1960s, but ended up going with our current football stadium instead when cost estimates hit the roof.

Makes sense to have a floating stadium, considering how often our teams are underwater. (San Diego sports burn!)

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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