Zimmerman becomes first female SDPD chief, calls for culture of excellence
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Shelley Zimmerman was unanimously confirmed by the
City Council Tuesday as the first female chief of the San Diego Police
The veteran of three decades on the force was subsequently sworn in by
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who named her to the job last week following the
retirement of William Lansdowne. She had been an assistant chief and became
acting chief Monday, when Lansdowne's resignation took effect.
“Let me tell you that I am confident that her years of neighborhood
policing and community engagement make her the perfect fit to work with all San
Diego residents as we move this department forward in an inclusive and
transparent manner,” Faulconer said. “Chief Zimmerman is the pre-eminent
model of professional conduct.”
The mayor said Zimmerman will tell city leaders what they need to hear,
not what they want to hear.
The SDPD has been buffeted in recent months by allegations of sexual
misconduct and other wrongdoing involving a handful of officers. A longer-term
challenge has been an inability to hold onto experienced officers who are lured
to other agencies by promises of higher pay.
Lansdowne told reporters it was time to step down after 10 1/2 years in
the post and called the 54-year-old Zimmerman the best officer to succeed him.
Faulconer thanked him while making his remarks and said San Diegans owe him “a
debt of gratitude.”
The only public opposition to Zimmerman's nomination was over process.
Norma Chavez Peterson, head of the American Civil Liberties Union San
Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter, said Lansdowne's retirement would have
been a great opportunity to launch a national search. Still, she said she
backed the appointment.
City Council President Todd Gloria had suggested a national search and
said that Zimmerman might still have been hired.
Faulconer said he put forth Zimmerman's nomination quickly because the
SDPD needs immediate leadership.
Members of the public and council heaped praise on the Ohio native, who
said she came to San Diego in 1981 without a job, a place to stay or knowing
Councilwoman Myrtle Cole lauded Zimmerman's “energy” and “passion.”
Councilman David Alvarez said she had a “great presence” in the community.
Marti Emerald, who chairs the council committee that oversees public
safety, called the new chief “a ray of sunshine in blue.”
In remarks after assuming her new position, Zimmerman said she was
grateful for the opportunity and challenge, and promised to instill a “culture
of excellence” in the department.
“We will demand it of ourselves, because our community deserves it,”
Zimmerman said. “It starts with the chief of police all the way through our
newest recruit and our entire civilian staff. All of us will strive to be the
very best at what we do.”
The failures of the “very few” who don't meet the high standards will
not be tolerated, she said.
Zimmerman will serve no more than four years. She signed up last year
for a deferred retirement plan that requires her to leave city employment on
March 1, 2018 — a situation Faulconer said he was aware of when he chose her.