Nov 13, 2015 (San Diego) On Wednesday City Council Member Marti Emerald said that the analysis of the stop data she ordered was to be delayed until June. Her reasons, she wants to wait until the full analysis is complete, and not release this piecemeal. She announced this at the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee and this was a a non agenda item.
First off, there might be very solid reason why the council member has decided to delay this. She did not go into it fully, and that is not the point of this piece. This decision is taken in an environment of increasing distrust. Let’s list some of the reasons.
Body Cameras, which the city police has deployed, now wants to expand the program to the tune of over $1 million dollars for 2 more years, instead of 5 for 7. That tis fine, since the Department of Justice and Policing in the 21st Century do recommend these devices. The problem lies in the use of the information obtained by them, or the fact that so far two critical incidents when somebody died body cams were turned off.
What tape exists of the first critical incident in the Midway district, due to a security camera, has not been released by the department. Chief Shelley Zimmerman has gone so far as to state that releasing these videos will be on a riot standard. Not only is the language itself provocative, but it reveals a lack of transparency on the part of the department. San Diego Police is known for it’s penchant for almost military secrecy, and keeping things vague. Yet, they speak often about community policing. Yes, the Department once led the nation in the process of creating community policing. These days It is the largest urban department with this wide spread deployment of body cameras which has not led to increased transparency.
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The department did not collect that data stop for many years. Never mind they are supposed to. They started after they were told to.
We also saw in the PERF Report two things emerge. One was the distrust of communities of color towards the police. It has to be called what it is, a racial tension. Also we saw poor discipline from the department for some of it’s officer. This is partly what led to the Anthony Arevalos situation.
According to KPBS “SDPD has consistently kicked the can on providing any meaningful analysis of the data,” (Kellen) Russoniello said, referring to previous reports by the department that offered raw data but no analysis. “SDPD and this committee both committed to open, honest dialogue about this data and other community concerns by promising to hear the results this fall. The public deserves to have the information as it is available.”
Now, as we said at the top of the piece, there might be very valid reasons to delay this release. Emerald might be very correct, and a piece meal release might lead to more trouble than it’s worth, but in this environment of distrust this smacks of cover up. What did the analysis by San Diego State University researchers find? This is not us saying this. This is what activists are saying. We are seeing this extensively on social media. This is the environment we are living under. There is deep distrust towards the political and police leaders in this city.
This delay will not help.