New police chief confirmed but not without controversy - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New police chief confirmed but not without controversy

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SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - The City Council Tuesday unanimously voted to confirm the nomination of Shelley Zimmerman as the first female chief of the San Diego Police Department.

Immediately after her confirmation, she was sworn in by Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The veteran of three decades was named to the job last week by Mayor Kevin Faulconer following the retirement of William Lansdowne. She had been an assistant chief and became acting chief Monday, when Lansdowne's resignation took effect.

The SDPD has been buffeted in recent months by allegations of sexual misconduct and other wrongdoing by 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 said he put forth Zimmerman's nomination quickly because the SDPD needs immediate leadership.

City Council President Todd Gloria had suggested a national search with input from local residents but said he would support her. Zimmerman enjoys widespread support on the City Council.

The Ohio native would 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 picked her.

Meantime, not everyone is pleased with Shelley Zimmerman's swift appointment as police chief. 

The American Civil Liberties Union held a news conference Tuesday afternoon, addressing accusations that the community was ignored.

"We were quite shocked with the process," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli with ACLU.

Dooley-Sammuli with ACLU of San Diego says the city was not transparent enough in choosing the newest and first female top cop to replace William Lansdowne who quickly retired Monday.

Moving forward, the ACLU expects Zimmerman to work under an independent audit.

"Whether it's allegations of sexual assault or racial profiling, what you have is potential with problems with systems or a few officers feeling they can act with impunity. That's a problem of trust," said Dooley-Sammuli.

Another issue - activists believe the hiring process lacked community involvement.

So what does the ACLU think Zimmerman should do to make things right?

"She should not just be accessible at the headquarters but out in the community as the former chief was," said Dooley-Sammuli.


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