Is the "thin blue line" eroding in America's Finest City?

New Police Chief Holds Mandatory Meetings on Misconduct

"Self-discipline is doing the right thing with no one else is watching" -- Chief Shelley Zimmerman

By Paul Krueger and R. Stickney
|  Friday, Mar 14, 2014  |  Updated 11:02 AM PDT
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San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman sat down with NBC 7 to talk about a wide range of issues facing the department, including sexual misconduct allegations against her officers. NBC 7's Mari Payton reports.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman sat down with NBC 7 to talk about a wide range of issues facing the department, including sexual misconduct allegations against her officers. NBC 7's Mari Payton reports.

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Council Confirms New SDPD Chief

The San Diego City Council confirmed the appointment of new SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman -- the first-ever female police chief in the history of the city. NBC 7's Gene Cubbison reports.

Chief Shelley Zimmerman Speaks to NBC 7

San Diego's first female police chief Shelley Zimmerman talks with NBC 7's Marianne Kushi on Friday, March 7, 2014.
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San Diego's first woman police chief has a simple, but very strong message for officers: Misconduct will not be tolerated.

The walls are still bare, in Chief Shelley Zimmerman's new office but she invited NBS 7 there for a wide-ranging discussion about her first full week on the job.

Zimmerman said she is sending a strong message to her rank-and-file, telling officers, support staff, and volunteers, they must rebuild, and protect, their department's reputation.

"It's not just a piece of polished metal. It represents the people of San Diego," Zimmerman said.

Special Section: Trouble Behind the Badge

The city's first female chief drove home that point during two meetings at a Qualcomm Stadium conference room. Each attended by more than 300 employees.

The meetings were mandatory and four more sessions are planned.

"I sent a very clear message this morning that misconduct will not be tolerated," she said.

Under former Chief William Lansdowne, the department was rocked by a series of officer-misconduct scandals including the conviction of ex-cop Anthony Arevelos, on battery, bribery, and assault charges.

"We talked about discipline is doing the right thing. Self-discipline is doing the right thing with no one else is watching,” she said. “We talked about how everyone will have self-discipline."

Timeline: Officers Accused of Misconduct

Zimmerman has reinstated a special task force to stop misconduct, before it happens.

"The whole goal of the professional standards unit is to go after those very few. We're going to find you," she said.

The chief will also take her message to the community, with a series of town hall meetings, starting later this month in Lincoln Park and City Heights.

"We have been working with the ACLU, we have been working with the NAACP about perceptions of racial profiling, and other issues and challenges going on in those communities and our police department," she said.

Zimmerman says the department will make better use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to keep citizens informed.

She also wants Neighborhood Watch groups to talk with each other, because in her words, "criminals don't know neighborhood boundaries."

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