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San Diego police officers walk down Logan Avenue in Barrio Logan. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

When she was sworn in for a full term last month, District Attorney Summer Stephan said something provocative to the crowd of law enforcement officers and their supporters who had come to cheer her on.

She didn’t talk about efforts to make police agencies more transparent and more accountable with the dripping, seething disdain that has become a hallmark of these debates.

Instead, she said: “There are members of law enforcement who don’t want to do that, who are judging books from the cover, who have prejudice, who have hate. We want them gone. We want transparency,” she said.

It’s been less than a month, but law enforcement officers didn’t just ignore Stephan, they went fleeing in the other direction.

Police unions vehemently opposed a new law to open up police misconduct records to the public. It passed anyway. They tried to stop it from going into effect. They failed. Now, they’re trying to block the release of records under the law again.

As they drag out this fight, another one is about to resume.

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and Sen. Toni Atkins are in the midst of re-working Weber’s bill from last year that would have changed the standards under which police can deploy deadly force.

One of the chief opponents of the bill is Brian Marvel, formerly the head of San Diego’s police union who’s now president of the Police Officers Research Association of California. When the bill was first unveiled, he called it “political correctness run amok,” as if the effort to prevent the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of police was merely a symbolic exercise.

As the bill made its way through the Legislature, Marvel’s voice blanketed the radio airwaves, insisting it would “handcuff” police and also asserting police have “embraced wearing cameras for transparency,” though law enforcement groups officially opposed several measures that would have required officers to publicly post policies regarding the cameras’ use and to make more of the videos public.

One of Marvel’s most bizarre arguments against the bill is that it would “take away our ability to react efficiently and effectively. Officers will be thinking, ‘Should I really be doing this? Should I run away?’”

Imagine operating in a world in which stopping briefly to think before taking a life would be considered a terrible thing we must prevent.

Several years ago, police unions fought tooth and nail to prevent another of Weber’s bills from going into effect. It was a bill requiring departments to provide data on the people they pull over, in order to document and guard against racial profiling. At the time, another police union official told the Los Angeles Times something astonishing: “There is no racial profiling. There just isn’t.”

Three years later, data from that law recently showed police in California kill black and Latino citizens at a rate higher than those groups’ share of the population.

What VOSD Learned

One of the most disturbing trends we’ve discovered during our yearlong investigation into sexual misconduct in local public schools is how easy it is for employees who’ve been fired or forced to resign to continue working with children. In their latest piece, Will Huntsberry and Kayla Jimenez detail a big reason why: The state commission that reviews teacher credentials takes more than two years on average to investigate cases – and teachers are allowed to stay in the classroom during that time.

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Arrests of homeless residents downtown went up significantly in the week before the annual homeless point in time count.

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Signs of progress emerged this week on the need for shelter space to accommodate asylum-seekers being dropped onto San Diego streets. The county approved a location for a shelter through the end of the year, and suggested it might sue the Trump administration for a policy change that has helped foster the current crisis. Gov. Gavin Newsom made a stop in San Diego this week to tour the location, and to talk up his budget proposal that devotes money to the issue.

Meanwhile, Maya Srikrishnan profiled a family in which the father was a member of the migrant caravan that arrived last year, and the mother and their children are U.S. citizens.

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There’s still time for officials to re-evaluate plans for the Purple Line. As they stand, they don’t hew to some key transit best practices.

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The SEC is investigating Sweetwater Unified.

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Ry Rivard laid out the incredibly close ties between the San Diego County Water Authority and a powerful private law firm to which it’s paid $25 million over the last two decades.

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On the podcast, we talked to the new chairman of the county Democratic Party about Dem-on-Dem races, where the party has fallen short and more.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“In the past year, Kylie has spent more than $10,000 on Postmates. Her most expensive order consisted of Don Julio Añejo 1942 Tequila while her smallest order was a bottle of Smartwater and a single carrot.” Celebrities, they’re just like us.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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