Police Chief Lansdowne resigns amid latest department scandal
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Police Chief William Lansdowne, whose department has
been beset by a series of recent officer-misconduct allegations, announced
Tuesday he will retire effective March 3rd.
Lansdowne, 69, has been the city of San Diego's top law enforcement
officer for over 10 years.
On Friday, Mayor Elect Kevin Faulconer met with the chief to discuss the
direction of the department in the wake of accusations of on-duty sexual
improprieties by several sworn officers.
Though Faulconer did not ask him to resign, Lansdowne “felt it was time
to do so,” according to SDPD public-affairs Lt. Kevin Mayer.
“The chief absolutely supports the new mayor and believes in his vision
and direction for the city,” Mayer said. “This was a difficult decision for
Chief Lansdowne to make, as he considers San Diego his home and truly values
the citizens of this city and the employees who work here.”
Faulconer said Lansdowne informed him Monday night.
“The decision to resign was the chief's, and the chief's alone,”
Faulconer said. “I told him that I would support his decision.”
Faulconer said he will announce next steps shortly. The SDPD has “great
leadership” within its chief ranks, he said.
The mayor-elect is known to be close to Assistant Chief Shelley
Zimmerman, but he did not rule out a national search.
Lansdowne served as police chief in Richmond and San Jose for four and
five years, respectively, before taking charge of the SDPD in August 2003.
During his tenure in San Diego, Lansdowne “successfully led the
department through countless critical events,” Mayer said. The chief took the
helm amid chronic budget deficits that saddled the agency with depleted ranks,
with many officers departing over the ensuing decade for jobs with better
In recent weeks, several women have come forward with allegations of
being sexually abused by SDPD officers, one of whom has since resigned and been
charged with criminal counts.
Ex-patrolman Christopher Hays, 30, pleaded not guilty last Tuesday to
felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor sexual battery. He faces up to three
years and eight months in prison if convicted.
On Wednesday, department officials announced that another SDPD officer
had been placed on leave amid similar accusations.
A woman alleged that South Bay patrolman Donald Moncrief, 39, groped her
and exposed himself after arresting her last year. He has not been charged
with any crimes, though he has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the
case, Lansdowne told reporters.
In 2011, then-SDPD Officer Anthony Arevalos was accused of sexually
assaulting five women during traffic stops for suspected drunken driving in the
Arevalos ultimately was convicted and ordered to serve nearly nine years
in prison, though this morning a judge threw out convictions on two of the
counts, opening a possibility for a reduction in sentence.
So far, the city has agreed to pay out $2.3 million to settle lawsuits
filed by Arevalos' victims.
Adding to the department's public image headaches, a San Diego police
detective was arrested in Balboa Park last weekend on suspicion of drunken
driving. Karen Almos, a 16-year department veteran, allegedly was found passed
out in a parked car in the 2000 block of Pan-American Plaza on Saturday
During a briefing at City Hall late this afternoon, Faulconer expressed
his gratitude for Lansdowne's “stellar” work leading the police department
and for the chief's 50-year law enforcement career.
Interim Mayor Todd Gloria asserted that Lansdowne's leadership has
resulted in the lowest crime rate in San Diego since the 1960s.
“His hallmark calm demeanor helped get the San Diego Police Department
and our city through challenging financial cutbacks, and he remains a respected
national expert on public safety,” Gloria said. “I'm grateful for his
tremendous contributions to San Diego and wish him well in retirement.”
He said he was looking forward to a national search that includes public
Sheriff Bill Gore said he'd never seen anyone in law enforcement work
harder or give more of himself than Lansdowne.
“I believe Chief Lansdowne has positioned the San Diego Police
Department — one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the country — in a
good place, by requesting an outside audit,” Gore said. “This will ensure the
public's confidence in the fine men and women who work so hard to keep San
Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association,
praised Lansdowne as a leader who proved to be “an invaluable asset”
throughout his term as the city's top cop.
“He was the right leader at a time when our department needed it,”
Marvel said. “While serving as chief for over 10 years, he navigated our
department through both challenges and triumphs. He served our community
proudly, and the San Diego Police Officers Association is grateful for his
Lansdowne called for the audit recently to review all aspects of police
operations. The city Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee is
scheduled to discuss the proposal on Wednesday afternoon.