What Does San Diego’s New Female Police Chief Mean To Its Citizens in the Aftermath of Harassment Lawsuits?

n the wake of all the scandals hitting the San Diego Police Department, it could not have been too surprising to learn that Chief William Lansdowne is retiring and going to be replaced.  The new Chief will be Shelley Zimmerman, a long time veteran of the San Diego Police Department and current Assistant Chief.  All local authorities have agreed she is qualified.  It is also savvy to name a female Chief with all the sexual harassment problems by male police recently.

Some have begun to wonder out loud if this means citizens should expect any significant changes in police policies or procedures.  Are we the civilians going to notice any changes? Should a female being pulled over by a male SDPD police officer for suspected DUI be scared?  Or is that chapter over for the San Diego Police Department? Nevermind the fact, for a moment, that CHP officers have been accused and convicted of the sexual favors in exchange for dismissing charges.


The simple answer is no, for several reasons.  First of all, soon to be Chief Zimmerman has been with the Department for over three decades and has risen to the highest levels possible, Assistant Chief.  It is extremely doubtful she would have stayed with SDPD and risen as high as she has if she had fundamental differences with her predecessors.

The vast majority of the decisions by any Chief are never noticed out on the street by average citizens.  Some new precautions have been ordered to prevent further abuse. For instance, as of now, female suspects are only allowed to be taken to the Los Colinas Detention Facility out in Santee when there are two officers in the vehicle. Little else has changed for the time being.  But, most decisions by the Chief are administrative, and that is bottom line for now.

The new Chief has already endorsed the idea of an independent audit of the Department.  It seems logical that any changes will be due to recommendations by the auditor and whether it was Chief Lansdowne or Chief Zimmerman, those recommendations would not be different.

The conclusion we can all draw from the continuing allegations of police misconduct is that the public, and its ability to come forward will be always be the best way to avoid more abuse. Lawyers and their law firms, no matter how cursed at times, are the watch dogs. The law firms even the playing field and make a very good argument against Shakesphere’s often misunderstood sarcasm in his writings, “Let’s kill all the lawyers first.” Bad idea, since we are the good guys that “serve and protect” in many instances.