New San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, in a city with 125 patrol areas and dozens of interest groups, is determined to meet with as many as possible, as quickly as possible, often giving out her cellphone number. The Los Angeles Times says Zimmerman, 55, the first female chief in city history, is facing some daunting challenges, including the city’s seemingly intractable financial problems and wavering public confidence due to abusive behavior by police. Credibility takes years to build, Zimmerman said as she wheeled her sport utility vehicle from one appearance to another, and can be lost rapidly when residents feel disconnected from law enforcement.
One of her priorities is to convince the public that her department does not condone racial profiling. “It doesn’t matter what I think,” she said. “It’s what the community thinks that counts.” A veteran of three decades with the department, Zimmerman was appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer after his election in February. He disregarded suggestions that the city should conduct a nationwide search to find a successor to Bill Lansdowne, who retired. Next month, the results of an audit authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice of San Diego’s recruitment, hiring, training and supervision of police officers are set to be released. Zimmerman has pledged to follow its recommendations.