The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Administration Center / Photo by Megan Wood Depar
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Administration Center / Photo by Megan Wood Depar

Since 2016, law enforcement agencies in San Diego have spent millions on a data-analytics company known for its predictive policing platform, with ties to immigration and intelligence authorities — all while bypassing open discussion, Jesse Marx reports in a new story.

Marx earlier reported on the existence of the little-known regional law enforcement working group that receives federal funding for police gear. Though elected officials sign off on the wish lists for funding, the group’s dealings are mostly hidden from public view. 

“In response to a Voice of San Diego records request, however, the county has begun releasing documents in its possession that are still labeled as ‘exempt from public disclosure,’” Marx reports.

The documents show almost $2 million was earmarked for services from Palantir, a company that helps police mine various streams of data, looking for connections that the human eye might miss. In some cities, it’s been used to make predictions about who might be a victim or a perpetrator of violent crime.

Local police have said little about how the company’s software is used. But Marx dug up a 2013 Board of Supervisors agenda in which elected officials signed off on a Palantir subscription for the Sheriff’s Department. An agreement with the company included this description: “The platform shall enable the SD-LECC to perform advanced analytics, such as link, pattern, statistical, behavioral, and geospatial analysis.” 

Group Wants to Take Friendship Park to the Next Level

Friendship Park, which sits on the border and includes space in both the United States and Mexico, is a pretty special place where people can see loved ones who can’t cross the border, enjoy binational concerts or where kids can sometimes play together from both countries. 

In this week’s Border Report, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan talked with the group Friends of Friendship Park about its plans to unveil a new redesign of the park for the space’s 50th anniversary. 

“There are four different phases of the competition, which the nonprofit has been referring to as a challenge. The first will be to design the international pier extending out into the Pacific Ocean,” Srikrishnan reports. “The second phase will be a 200 square foot ‘Courtyard for Free Speech’ that will be centered on the border line. The third will be a redesign of the boardwalk that already exists on the Mexican side. The final phase will be redesigning the historic bullring, so it can be used for large gatherings, like concerts or lectures.”

Another City Budget Reality Check

The Gloria administration on Friday released a report projecting an $85 million budget deficit for the current year ending in June due to a pandemic that has rocked city tax revenues.

As Mayor Todd Gloria noted in a statement cited by City News Service, that’s $30 million more than the city’s library budget last year – and that’s on top of the $124 million budget gap projected for the new budget year starting in July.

Despite the jarring budget gap expected at the end of the current year, Gloria’s team says for now it plans to hold off on immediate cuts until it learns more about the status of federal stimulus funds that could help address the city’s budget woes, and assesses how reopening and vaccination efforts affect the local economy and thus, city tax hauls.

But on Monday, Gloria acknowledged cuts could be coming – and that he expected to share next steps in coming weeks.

“Repairing our city budget won’t be a quick or painless process,” Gloria wrote in a statement.

Indeed, city leaders recently asked city departments to outline cutbacks that could help close the city’s massive budget gap.

City Council President Jen Campbell also foreshadowed the tough decisions ahead.

“This will be one of the most challenging budget cycles in San Diego’s history,” Campbell wrote.

In Other News

  • Former Mayor Kevin Faulconer made his run for governor official. (10News) John Cox, who ran for governor against Gavin Newsom in 2018 and lost, and has poured millions already into a rematch, hit Faulconer as a “career politician.”
  • State Senate leader Toni Atkins announced she’s tapped San Diego Councilwoman Monica Montgomery to serve on a new state task force examining reparations. The group was created by a bill passed last year by another San Diegan, then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who last week became secretary of state.
  • Some elementary school students in Poway Unified returned to the classroom Monday. (NBC San Diego)
  • The county sent rent relief money to cities that county supervisors said shouldn’t qualify for it. (inewsource)
  • San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is going to be on the cover of MLB The Show 21, the new release of the top baseball video game for Sony Playstation and XBox. It will feature the music of Padres organist Bobby Cressey as well. Tatis is the youngest player and first Padre on the cover.

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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