New San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman faced more than 150 residents and officers this week, promising better communications and relationships with the community, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. She acknowledged that cases of officer misconduct in recent years have shaken the public trust. “It takes years upon years to build the trust of our community,” Zimmerman told a crowd gathered at an elementary school. “And in just seconds, that trust can start to erode.” Zimmerman was chosen March 4 to replace Chief William Lansdowne, who retired in the face of public criticism of the department. The townhall-style meeting was the second since her promotion.
“If your perception is that you don’t feel safe, then that is the reality,” Zimmerman said. “We want to know how we can improve our relationship with all our communities.” She said she welcomes a federal Department of Justice audit of the department’s hiring, supervision and training policies and will resume a program for officers to detail the types of people they contact, and why, to find out if such stops are race-based. The Professional Standards Unit, which once ran inquiries into officer behavior until Lansdowne merged the unit with internal affairs, will be brought back, Zimmerman said.