The San Diego Police Department headquarters / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

As the San Diego Police Department began clearing out its years-long backlog of untested rape kits, it didn’t upload certain DNA profiles from rape kits to a federal database.

Crime lab analysts were instructed not to upload DNA from historical rape kits if the report in the kit did not specify the victims had also had a consensual partner within days of the assault. That included times when analysts could look in the lab’s internal records to see that a consensual partner swab had been collected and was available to test.

Several experts told VOSD’s Andrew Keatts that the department’s policy did not seem focused on solving cold cases and actually seems to defeat the purpose of testing the kits in the first place.

County Moves Forward With Behavioral Health Hub Plan

County supervisors voted unanimously to move forward with efforts to create a network of behavioral health hubs and crisis units countywide.

The county will pursue a hub with an array services in Hillcrest and another on a separate county-owned property next to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, reports VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt. It’s also planning other behavioral health hubs in the eastern and southern reaches of the county.

The new services will come at a high cost. The Hillcrest hub alone will cost an estimated $115 million, a sum the county hopes will be financed by an influx of Medi-Cal dollars associated with changes at the county psychiatric hospital in Midway and partnerships with UC San Diego Health and Scripps Health.

Everyone’s Bracing for More Fires, Blackouts

With the strongest winds of the season expected to hit California this week, officials throughout the state and the region are bracing for more wildfires and blackouts. Tijuana’s mayor said fires have already consumed 71 houses and warned residents not to burn their trash during Santa Ana conditions, the U-T reports.

San Diego County is certainly no stranger to housing proposals in high wildfire risk areas. The developers behind those plans have argued the new homes will help rather than hurt surrounding communities during a fire. The outgoing director of Cal Fire has suggested policy changes that don’t allow building in those rural communities.

This week, SDG&E also warned the public that about 33,000 homes and businesses could have their power shut off to prevent fires from downed power lines, NBC 7 reports. Communities in East County and North County have been put on alert.

The company has been methodically killing power when it sees or predicts conditions ripe for fire. After helping to cause fires in 2007 that burned hundreds of homes and killed two people, the company has spent $1.5 billion on equipment upgrades and more advanced weather forecasting.

As fires continue to rage across the state, you’re also likely to hear talk about how much a fire is “contained.” It’s a complex term — more art than science — so here’s what you should know.

Spotlight on UCSD Researcher With His Own Undocumented Experience

Tom Wong, a political science professor at UC San Diego, has driven several compelling, comprehensive studies on immigration in the past few years. He’s examined DACA recipients’ educational outcomes and contributions to the economy. He’s looked at how, statistically speaking, crime is significantly lower in counties with so-called sanctuary policies when compared to non-sanctuary counties.

His most recent research has focused on asylum-seekers at the border. In August, he released information collected from asylum-seekers at the San Diego Rapid Response Network migrant shelter that not only told us about where they come from and where they were headed in the United States, but detailed the conditions they experienced while held in detention at the border.

In a new story this week, The Guardian talked with Wong about how his experience of being undocumented informs his work as he releases his latest research that focuses on the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. In interviews with hundreds of asylum-seekers in Tijuana and Mexicali, Wong found that many were sent to wait in Mexico even after telling U.S. immigrational officials that their persecutors would have access to them there. The data collected also showed many of those forced to wait in Mexico experienced homelessness and 

Speaking of the Immigrant Experience …

A new exhibition in Oceanside seeks to celebrate the sacrifices of immigrant kitchen workers whose work often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

In the Culture Report, VOSD contributor Julia Dixon Evans details the exhibit and its use of kitchen materials used by the workers each day to raise awareness of the experiences of the behind-the-scene workers.

La Bodega’s annual skull show, a free “Young People’s Concert,” Old Town’s Day of the Dead celebration and more are all on Evans’ list of San Diego cultural events to check out this week.

City Axes Request for Pitches to Redevelop Inspiration Point

The city is canceling its request for proposals to redevelop a corner of Balboa Park less than a month after issuing it.

On Oct. 7, the city requested proposals to overhaul the area known as Inspiration Point.

After pushback from park activists, the city announced Tuesday that it was scaling back the request. It’s not clear when the process might resume.

Christina Chadwick, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, said the city will consider next steps as it pursues other Balboa Park projects, including a plan to clear cars from the area in front of the Air & Space Museum.

“We want to make sure that any future development of Inspiration Point is a worthy addition to Balboa Park and something of which we can all be proud,” Chadwick wrote in a statement.  “In order to do so, we must take additional time to evaluate our process to ensure that we listen to the broadest possible community voice and provide responsive and obtainable opportunities for park development.”

In Other News

Correction

Monday’s Morning Report included a summary of our live podcast event at Politifest that misattributed a quote about San Diego’s “small-town mentality that we can’t shake loose from.” The quote was from Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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