Wesley Lowery / Photo by Megan Wood

In a fluke of good timing, Wesley Lowery, a national reporter for the Washington Post who covers law enforcement and racial justice issues and who was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team that created a pioneering database of police shootings, happened to be in town the same week that San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s AB 392 cleared the state Assembly.

He stopped by the VOSD podcast studio for a conversation about how the bill fits into a national context, why police shootings generally have faded from view compared with a couple years ago and more.

Some highlights:

On the potential impact of AB 392:

“Changing even just those words from the objective “reasonableness” standard to the “necessary” standard is a massive legal shift in how you govern police use of deadly force, and really might change some outcomes and certainly will change the way police train and instruct themselves.”

On police shootings no longer dominating the headlines:

“It’s not that the police have stopped killing people. It’s not that the shootings of stopped happening. If not that they’re no longer being captured on cell phone footage. It’s that we’ve turned our eyes to any number of other things. … And right now all of that is about what’s happening at the White House or around the White House and now the upcoming presidential [election] and very little about a lot of other things happening. And so police shootings and police violence in general are things where I think that we’ll eventually — when this administration cycles over to another one, whether that be next year or five years from now or whenever that happens to be — I think a lot of them are going to exhale and to think back to like, ‘All right, what are the things we haven’t paid any attention to for five years?’”

On local departments confronting threats from people radicalized online:

Law enforcement in America works at a local level. There are 19,000 police departments that get to do what they want to do, but there really is power of person, power of platform. When the attorney general of the United States says, ‘This is a priority, this is what working on, this is what we’re giving our grants out for. This is what at our policing conferences we’re going to be talking about,’ that does trickle down to the sheriff’s and the police chiefs and the SWAT teams. And what we have not seen, certainly not in this administration has been a focus from the highest levels on these domestic terror threats and the rhetoric that has permeated a lot of our politics.”

Check out the full discussion below.

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Sara Libby

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

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