SDPD Chief Zimmerman reflects on her first year

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – San Diego’s first female police chief has been in office for more than a year now, and Chief Shelly Zimmerman is the woman in charge of a police department in one of the biggest cities in the country.

It is a police department that is trying to get back into the good graces of the public, and the leader is getting good grades from officers on the street and city leaders.

“It is absolutely the greatest show on earth, and we have a front row seats,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman about being a police officer.

She has been the ringmaster for one solid year in San Diego now, and she has been a police officer for 32-years.

“I will tell you I’m not bored,” she said at the Women in Blue Luncheon, honoring three top female SDPD law enforcers.

Shelley Zimmerman was appointed chief on March 4, 2014, after then Chief William Lansdowne stepped down.

Chief Zimmerman took over a department in the midst of turmoil, with cops doing illegal things, low morale, and lack of supervision and accountability among the rank and file.

She immediately made moves to change the department.

Six-hundred officers are now wearing body cameras.

There is a class with 48 new recruits, and there are new internal reporting systems in place. The chief was praised in a Department of Justice report this month for her efforts.

“Just because we’ve implemented something it doesn’t mean that we’re done. Always going to seek improvement. We’ve set the bar very high. We are gonna reach it, and when we do, I’m gonna raise it again,” she said.

Chief Zimmerman made it a point to be in the community, and she has constantly connected with people.

She has jumped-off the Ocean Beach Pier with junior lifeguards and she ran in the Chelsea’s Run.

“All of those are great, it’s all about about going out and bringing that first hand experience and our community policing philosophy,” she said.

The most fun she has had in the last year?

Throwing out the first pitch at a Padres game, she said.

“Very relieved to say I threw the ball just off the plate to catcher Renee Rivera. That was a great moment,” said Zimmerman.

She did not plan to be chief, but she said she is grateful for this experience.

“That was never my goal. My goal was to do the very best job I could in whatever assignment I had,” she said.

Chief Zimmerman opted for an early retirement program the year before she was appointed chief, which means she can only be in her present position through 2018.

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