Our crime rate may be quite low, but the city’s criminal gangs are still active. Since they’ve been getting a lot of local and national attention lately, we decided to explain where and how they operate.

By the numbers, the city has 91 gangs with more than 4,100 gang members. We know where they’re based and the average age that kids join them (13). We also have details about how the gang-related homicide rate might be a bit misleading.

Behind the Judge’s ‘Code of Silence’ Ruling

“This summer, a federal jury will decide if San Diego police condone sexual and other serious misconduct by officers and if a code of silence prevents misconduct from being investigated,” VOSD’s Liam Dillon reports.

In a new story, we look at what the judge found and why, especially in regard to a possible “code of silence” within the police department.

The lawsuit against the city comes from Jane Doe, a victim of ex-officer Anthony Arevalos. A police expert from Doe’s side also told the court that the department is lacking in policies that would encourage other officers to come forward to report bad behavior.

Bizarre SeaWorld Claim of the Day

An animal trainer from SeaWorld told state legislators Wednesday that killer whales enjoy their work performing tricks for people. “They’d rather be in the show than out of the show,” she said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “They are so stimulated every day. They want to interact with us, and the level of care is so high it’s almost hard to describe.”

She added that the shows are “a net benefit to the animals.” Reminds me of a classic Twilight Zone episode.

The trainer was speaking at an informational hearing before the so-called Blackfish bill moves forward.

San Diego’s Donor Desert?

CityBeat columnist John Lamb has a way with Photoshop and photos of local politicians. But if you ignore the creepy “photo illustration,” there’s good information in his latest missive.

Lamb points to data suggesting that San Diego’s do-gooders are lightweights on the charity front, at least compared with L.A. and S.F., and that could explain the massive fails of the opera and the Balboa Park centennial. “Perhaps in today’s what’s-in-it-for-me world, such generosity has become endangered, leaning toward extinct,” Lamb writes.

Escondido Candidate: No Sign Rules for Me

An Escondido City Council candidate has erected a campaign sign in his yard, a decidedly non-newsworthy act. But it’s the timing that’s attracting attention: He’s doing it months before the election, violating the city’s sign laws.

But the laws, it turns out, could be unconstitutional. Even if that’s the case, though, two other candidates, in a dismaying bit of just-follow-the-rules-bucko unity, really wish he’d just pipe down. (U-T)

Quick News Hits

• Look who’s free to move around the country: Former Mayor Bob Filner will soon finish house arrest and no longer have to be attached to a GPS monitor. (U-T)

• Nobody move! San Diego’s on track to become one of the three or four tightest apartment markets in the country, if not the tightest Translation: It’s going to be really, really tough to find a decent apartment here, and those with special needs (like those of us with pets) will most likely have an especially hard time. (Bloomberg)

• City residents are being surveyed about how the Police Department is doing. It’s part of the big Justice Department audit. (NBC San Diego)

• An analysis of data from several websites that rate things (including TripAdvisor but not Yelp) finds that our perspectives are mighty sunny here: We’re No. 1 when it comes to five-star reviews. OK, but what about five-finger discounts? (N.Y. Times)

• The county gets a mention in an New York Times story about how cops around the country are dealing with a rising number of calls involving mentally ill people.

• A former San Diego police dispatcher is out with a self-published book about her experiences taking calls, the U-T reports.

One caller saw that his wife got a citation and wondered what the criminal code number on it stood for. Prostitution, he was told. His response: “I’ll bet that explains the fur coat and big-screen TV she told me she bought with the money she saved using coupons.” (This anecdote sounds too good to be true.)

Another time, a dispatcher tried to soothe a man who’d said he was “frightened and naked.” In fact, he was at Brighton and Bacon.

Let’s hope this same dispatcher didn’t mishear that criminal code number too.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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