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Look, I’ve probably mentioned two or 10 or 50 times by now that in the last three months, three bills were signed into law as a result of Voice of San Diego’s journalism. (But, hey, let’s make it a solid 51: Those would be bills tightening vaccine exemptions requirements, clarifying the role of public health officials during public health crises and limiting state database sharing with federal immigration officials.)
On top of those state-level changes, SDPD announced it would be changing its rape kit policies in the wake of Andrew Keatts’ investigation into how the crime lab was processing backlogged kits.
Now, after two years of VOSD’s reporting on how predatory teachers are able to abuse students yet stay in the classroom, the district attorney announced two new tools aimed at combating the issue. One is an online reporting tool that allows people to bypass school officials, who in many cases have downplayed or ignored complaints altogether. Another is a task force that will investigate those complaints, including complaints of mandated reporters who failed to report abuse.
Those are all laudable changes in their own right. But collectively, they represent a dramatic amount of impact in a short amount of time.
What other news outlet can claim major changes to state law, local police department policy and countywide policy, in the last three months alone?
What VOSD Learned This Week
This week, we rolled out our series on San Diego and Imperial County law enforcement officers who’ve been convicted of crimes. It was part of a major, unprecedented collaboration VOSD helped lead of newsrooms across the state who investigated a secret list of criminal cops. As part of that effort, we helped create this searchable statewide database.
Here’s what our stories found:
In San Diego County, we confirmed 33 of the people on the secret list of criminal cops in California were members of law enforcement at some point. The list includes people like Roel Tungcab, an SDPD officer who knocked his wife unconscious, and is still on the force.
Thanks to special exemptions for California police officers, some cops who have restraining orders filed against them or who have certain domestic violence convictions, can keep their guns. In one particularly awful local case, one SDPD officer was convicted of stalking another officer – but got to keep his job, while she was painted in court as a “drama queen.”
In Imperial County, we delved into two interesting cases: One Imperial County Sheriff’s officer assaulted his wife and kept his job – then went on to harass and grope a coworker. A Calexico police officer was allowed to keep his job following a DUI even as the department was under intense federal scrutiny for accountability issues and violations. Then, he was honored as “officer of the year” and his conviction was wiped clean.
Jesse Marx and I talked about how the series came together and what it took to compile the records and make the stories happen on this week’s VOSD Podcast.
Other stuff happened this week, too!
In the Sacramento Report, I rounded up what we know so far about what state lawmakers plan to tackle next year.
What I’m Reading
- Long before there was Donald Trump, there was Peter King. (Daily Beast)
- This is a well-reported and devastating read on how U.S. recklessness and neglect, coupled with climate change, has wreaked havoc on the Marshall Islands. (Los Angeles Times)
- Americans should not fear tension – they should fear its absence. (Or, put another way, calls for civility are bullshit.) (The Atlantic)
- In the last two decades, Mississippi has charged thousands of kids as adults – and three out of four of them are black. (Reveal)
- A new “Charlie’s Angels” movie is out this weekend, but I really enjoyed this look back at the fun and absurd version from my youth, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” (The Ringer)
Line of the Week
“The movie veers into science fiction when it features a female editor in chief and a 90s-era Esquire staff filled with people of color.” – It will shock no one to learn that revered nice guy Tom Hanks is indeed nice, and revered celebrity profile writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner wrote a good celebrity profile.