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San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit speaks at a Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee meeting. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

New citation data released to Voice of San Diego show police are continuing to ticket homeless San Diegans and compelling them to move elsewhere despite federal and City Council guidance discouraging it.

“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19,” reads recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers.”

From March 23 through March 30, data shows San Diego police ticketed about 125 people citywide for illegal lodging or encroachment alone. Officers cited several people multiple times.

“Officers recorded a similar number of illegal lodging and encroachment citations and arrests per day, on average, as they had in previous months,” reports Lisa Halverstadt. “Vehicle habitation enforcement, while less frequent, also closely matched trends in prior months until the latter part of March.”

San Diego police have defended their enforcement practices and say they have pulled back even since last month.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer also stood by that approach at a Tuesday press conference where he announced that homeless outreach workers have begun moving unsheltered homeless San Diegans into the Convention Center shelter. 

“Our posture is very simple. We want to get people help, we wanna get them off the street. Allowing encampments to grow in the sidewalks is unsafe, unclear, unsanitary environment. We’ve seen what happens in San Diego if we allow that,” said Faulconer, referencing the 2017 hepatitis A outbreak that left 20 dead.

Child Abuse Reports Drop, Worrying Experts

Calls to San Diego County’s child abuse hotline dropped by nearly half last month after many schools closed their doors to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Experts say that doesn’t mean there’s been an actual drop in child abuse. Instead, the numbers signal a drop in those who tend to alert authorities to abuse, like educators, medical health care providers and child care providers.

“We actually become more concerned about abuse when we see fewer reports,” said Jessica Heldman, a law professor at the University of San Diego Children’s Advocacy Institute. “A decrease in the number of calls to hotlines doesn’t mean there is less abuse.”

The week before many schools schools closed in San Diego County, officials received 1,525 calls to the Child Welfare Services Child Abuse Hotline. The following week, that number plummeted to 856.

Hang Out With Us Virtually

Everything is changing, including the news business, so we’re adapting to bring you the most important news in new ways. That includes our latest effort: Voice of San Diego at Home.

This is our new livestream series where we’ll bring you the most up-to-date news about San Diego, including exclusive interviews with VOSD reporters, and we’ll answer your questions about the local impacts of the coronavirus and how our region is responding.

Here’s when and where you can find us:

What You Need to Know This Week: Mondays, 1:30 p.m. (Facebook, Periscope and YouTube)

Ask Us Anything: Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m. (Facebook, Periscope and YouTube)

Interview With a VOSD Reporter: Fridays, 1:30 p.m. (Instagram)

Our CEO Scott Lewis will be live today answering your questions. If you’ve got one (or several), send an email to our engagement editor at megan@vosd.org.

County Fair Postponed for the Year

The Del Mar fair board voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone this year’s San Diego County Fair following news from Gov. Gavin Newsom that mass gatherings will not be allowed for the foreseeable future. 

“The San Diego County Fair is a beloved family tradition for more than 1.5 million San Diegans each year, as well as a source of livelihood for numerous individuals and businesses,” said Tim Fennell, CEO of the Del Mar Fairgrounds. “Yet with the continued impacts of COVID-19, postponing this year’s Fair is the right thing to do.”

Fennell said next year’s event will have the same theme of “Heroes, Unite!” adding that it “couldn’t be more relevant.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, and edited by Sara Libby.

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