Newsletter: Essential California: The perils of predictive policing

Fireworks light up the Los Angeles skyline at Grand Park.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, July 4, and I’m wishing you a happy Independence Day from Los Angeles.

Here’s what’s happening across California:


The Los Angeles Police Department pioneered predictive policing techniques, which employ data technology and information about past crimes to predict future unlawful activity. Other departments around the nation soon adopted predictive policing techniques after the LAPD took the leap in 2010.


But the widely hailed tool the LAPD helped create has come under fire in the last 18 months, with numerous departments dumping the software because it did not help them reduce crime and essentially provided information already being gathered by officers patrolling the streets.

Beyond concerns from law enforcement, the data-driven programs are also under increasing scrutiny by privacy and civil liberties groups, which say the tactics result in heavier policing of black and Latino communities. Los Angeles Times

Federal whiplash: The Trump administration reversed course again on the issue of putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census, as Justice Department lawyers told a federal court Wednesday that they had been “instructed” to try to find a way to add the question, despite statements from the administration on Tuesday that they were giving up the effort. Los Angeles Times

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Omar Ahmed, 33, co-owner of Kernel of Truth tortilla company, in Boyle Heights.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

This fast-growing East L.A. tortilla business started with two high school friends. Los Angeles Times

Dance studios are the latest entity being pushed out by L.A.’s skyrocketing rents. Los Angeles Times

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The Trump administration cannot use military funds to pay for a wall along the southern border, per a federal appeals court’s ruling. Los Angeles Times

As the threat of impending immigration raids brings heightened anxiety to communities around the state, doctors in Sonoma County try to bridge the gap between immigrants and health clinics. Santa Rosa Press-Democrat



The sexual assault case filed against Rep. Tony Cardenas collapsed on Wednesday, with the congressman’s accuser dropping her lawsuit and saying she regretted hiring her attorney to represent her in the proceedings. Los Angeles Times

Will California’s new first-in-the-nation bot-disclosure law strengthen democracy? The New Yorker

Paradise’s public works director — who has been one of the key players in the recovery process for the fire-ravaged Northern California town — will leave this week for a new job in Chico, where he and his family relocated to a permanent home earlier this year. Per the story: “His decision also highlights a difficulty shared with much of the area’s public servants, though they keep it hidden: handling the personal challenge of recovering from tragedy on top of the professional challenge.” Chico Enterprise-Record


It’s official: San Francisco’s juvenile hall will close by the end of 2021. It will be the first major city in the country to end the practice of jailing children. San Francisco Chronicle

A Ventura County jalapeño grower was awarded $23.3 million in his lawsuit against Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods. Ventura County Star



Planning a Central Valley outdoor adventure over the holiday weekend? The Kings River remains closed in Fresno and Tulare counties, but it has reopened for recreation in Kings County. Fresno Bee


This abandoned historic hotel in downtown Fresno will soon provide housing for 79 families. Fresno Bee

A 25-item “ultimate” bucket list for the Palm Springs area. Desert Sun

Megan Rapinoe’s Northern California hometown been celebrating its World Cup soccer star native daughter. Now that the U.S. women’s team has made the finals, the city of Redding is planning “a big blowout community watching party” for Sunday’s game. A pregame pancake breakfast starts at 7 a.m., and fans are invited to attend in their soccer uniforms or pajamas. Redding Record Searchlight

And if you don’t know much about Redding, the local paper has very smartly capitalized on all that “Where is Megan Rapinoe from?” search traffic with a handy primer on their city. Redding Record Searchlight

Bruce Springsteen’s new album has a lyric about “the San Bernardino line.” But what did the Boss actually mean? Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

A man broke into a Kern County church, microwaved some locally famous tamales and then made off with TVs and phones. “Is nothing sacred?” a woman who was baptized at the Catholic church asked. “He left masa all over a desk.” Bakersfield Californian

Trying to grow big, beefy tomatoes this summer? Meet Southern California’s Tomato Guy. Los Angeles Times

Square, a payment processing company run by Twitter’s CEO, is coming to Oakland. Activists fear the tech firm’s arrival will exacerbate the already brutal housing crisis. The Guardian


Los Angeles: partly sunny, 76. San Diego: partly sunny, 70. San Francisco: sunny, 64. San Jose: sunny, 78. Sacramento: sunny, 92. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Hollie Nawa:

“Angelenos are fascinated by celebrity. In the late ’70s, my dad was in charge of the electrical at the Oscars. It was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Bob Hope lay on the stage between rehearsals and told jokes to the orchestra. The green area around the venue saw celebrities coming and going: no underground garages there. The one autograph I got was Roger Williams, the pianist. As my dad exited, I said to the other seekers, ‘Did you get Chuck Nawa’s autograph?’ ‘No! Where is he?’ I pointed him out and he signed autographs for 10 minutes. A celebrity for a day!”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.