La Jolla City Council hears opposition to proposed restrictions on San Diego police power

The La Jolla City Council and local residents heard April 21 from opponents of a proposed San Diego ordinance that would place new limits on police power in the city, with some attendees calling for more resources for what ‘they called in an already weakened department.

During the meeting, which was held online and at the La Jolla Recreation Center, Catherine Douglass, chair of the city council’s public safety committee, said the draft ordinance, called the “ProTECT Act,” “will change the font as you know it. It will favor the criminal and it will leave us in a position that we don’t want to be in.

The PrOTECT Act, an acronym for “Preventing Overpolicing Through Equitable Community Treatment,” was drafted by members of the Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency. The measure has not yet been submitted to the city council for consideration.

The order aims to change the legal standard for police stops and searches from “reasonable suspicion” to “probable cause”.

It would also prohibit officers from questioning people about any offense other than the one for which they were arrested (unless officers have probable cause).

Geneviéve Jones-Wright, a lawyer who helped draft the PrOTECT law and whose organization Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance, or MoGo, is part of the Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency, told the La Jolla Light after meeting that the order is needed because “racial profiling is happening in San Diego and we haven’t found a solution yet.”

She said several studies commissioned by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego City Council and the American Civil Liberties Union supported her claim.

The PrOTECT Act, Jones-Wright said, “aims to combat racial profiling and remove some of the tactics used by police and sheriff’s deputies to police certain communities.”

Jared Wilson, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, told the city council that the PrOTECT law is “completely misnamed. This is not a new protection. The purpose of the groups who wrote this… is to prevent the police from doing their job.

Wilson, who served as supervisor of the police department’s North Division, which includes La Jolla, from 2015 to 2020, said the PrOTECT law would “eliminate a lot of the enforcement actions that we do,” like checking people arrested for mandates in other cases. .

“If I see someone looking at cars or standing in front of a liquor store with a mask on, I can’t do anything until I see them committing a crime,” Wilson said.

“Our department does a great job following the search and seizure rules that America has in place to protect us from unlawful search and seizure,” he said. “We receive ongoing training, and if someone breaches, they are held accountable for disciplinary procedures.”

The PrOTECT Act “goes beyond that,” Wilson said. “If you violate [the ordinance’s] rules, which are tougher than anything else in America, we’re actually going to prosecute you as a criminal as a police officer.

Wilson said the ordinance is “so sweeping that it doesn’t exist anywhere else in America.”

“It’s demoralizing for my officers,” he added.

Jones-Wright later said the proposal was only intended to “prevent our police departments from engaging in biased policing,” which is unconstitutional.

“We want [officers] do their job in the spirit of the law and according to the law,” she said, “treating everyone equally before the law.”

Jones-Wright said the PrOTECT law’s goal of requiring probable cause, a higher standard than reasonable suspicion, will go a long way to reducing unconstitutional police detentions. She cited examples of officers arresting someone — often a person of color — for a broken taillight as a pretext to question the person about something else.

She said the order would not prohibit an officer from asking for identification “if there is probable cause that the person they arrested has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, nor does it prohibit the officer from asking questions about a crime if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person they are questioning has committed, is committing or is about to commit that crime. crime.

“It doesn’t turn officers into criminals,” she said. “It gives responsibility.

“If San Diego passes the PrOTECT law, we will be pioneers. San Diego has the opportunity to implement transformative change that other jurisdictions want to see happen.

Representatives of San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, told the Light that he does not yet have a comment on the deed because it is not finalized or registered.

Wilson encouraged those present at the meeting to write to their city council representative to object to the ordinance. Douglass asked the city council to take a stand against this.

City Council Administrator Christy Littlemore said the group should hear from supporters of the ordinance first.

City Council voted to take a stand on the PrOTECT Act after further investigation.

For more information, visit stopprotectact.com or bit.ly/ProtectActCPAT.

Other Public Safety Issues

San Diego Police Force: Douglass advocated for better funding of the police, asking those present at the meeting “to write letters demanding the budget we deserve for the police department.”

Wilson said the Northern Division’s first or day shift met minimum staffing levels 21% of days in February and 26% in March.

The second shift reached minimum staffing levels 25% of days in February and 19% in March.

For the third shift, or night shift, the numbers were 11% in February and 13% in March, Wilson said.

“That means there are communities without police,” Wilson said. “That means there are no police cars in every neighborhood.”

He said the understaffing is “not at all a reflection on the management of our department. They work with the resources there to do the best job possible, which is not enough.

San Diego has seen a surge in police officer vacancies since September that has been blamed on several factors, including the city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees, relatively low wages, a tight labor market and low morale among officers.

Burglaries update: Police Lt. Rick Aguilar said officers are still working overtime on a series of burglaries attributed to a South American criminal network.

At first, Aguilar said, there were 54 such burglaries over a six-month period. “We reduced that; in the past 12 weeks we have had two burglaries.

San Diego Police Lt. Rick Aguilar said officers are still working overtime on a series of burglaries attributed to a South American criminal network.

(Elisabeth Frausto)

A suspect is in custody after being arrested after driving through the grounds of La Jolla High School, Aguilar said.

A 40-year-old man was arrested after running onto the field during a lacrosse match while being chased by police on the afternoon of March 14. According to San Diego police, a burglar had ‘trashed’ a house on Fay Avenue and fled when the residents returned.

Aguilar said officers will continue to work overtime in an attempt to prevent and solve burglaries in La Jolla.

Lifeguard Update: Lt. Lonnie Stephens of the San Diego Fire Department said there were about 700,000 visitors to La Jolla beaches in March, with lifeguards performing about 15,000 preventative actions such as asking people to get out of rip currents. back, plus 33 water rescues and 80 medical aids.

There were also two cliff rescues at Black’s Beach in March, he said.

Stephens reminded people to always swim near a lifeguard and to check with lifeguards for current water conditions.

Next meeting : The La Jolla City Council will then meet at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, likely in person and online. To learn more, visit lajollatowncouncil.org.

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