Student Group Protests SDPD's Use of Force, Race Relations

As the national conversation over police brutality wears on, a local group is zeroing in on how the San Diego Police Department handles issues of race and use of force.

The Black Student Justice Coalition on Wednesday afternoon outlined a list of requests for San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. In response, the police chief said her department is already doing many of those requests.

Still, the group said that’s not enough.

“Their policies may indeed be there, but they’re not being implemented for one and … the police officers are getting around them in some way so there is a big mistrust when it comes from the community,” said Mark Jones of the Black Student Justice Coalition.

The coalition converged at the City Administration Building to address their grievances. The students held signs with the names of people they say were killed by officers.

Among the pleas, the group has requested a community review board similar to the department’s citizens review board already in place.

Group members said they want the advisory board to have broader powers, namely the ability to subpoena officers or witnesses and remove officers from duty.

They also want new officers to undergo sensitivity training and for the department to recruit more of a diversity of officers.

The coalition also wants a clear, simple policy outlining to the public when officers may use force.

In response, Zimmerman said her department has started a new 40-hour class dedicated to preventing bias in officers. She also said the department plans to hire 172 more officers this year.

Also, the police chief plans to begin officer training classes to the public this summer.

“About 40 percent of this classroom discussion revolves around the topic of human behavior, emotions and liability,” she said. “The remaining 60 percent will include incorporating hands-on, scenario-based applications.”

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