San Diego’s first female police chief Shelley Zimmerman spoke with NBC 7 Friday about her priorities as she takes office.
Zimmerman, who was approved by the San Diego City Council Tuesday, is a 31-year veteran with the department who served as Assistant Chief under former chief William Lansdowne.
On Friday, she addressed those community activists and residents – specifically the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) - who have been critical of the speed in which she was chosen as the new chief.
“It’s all about working together,” Zimmerman said. “It’s critically important that we meet with all of our communities.”
The new chief will be meeting with the NAACP and ACLU Monday to discuss their concerns.
Zimmerman added that the department averages approximately 140 community meetings each month.
Days after Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Zimmerman was his choice to replace Lansdowne as top cop, NBC 7 news and other media outlets learned the new chief would be retiring within four years under requirements of the department's Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).
Zimmerman told NBC 7 Friday that the mayor knew about her enrollment in DROP when he selected her.
“About half of our police department is eligible for retirement in the next four years. That’s why it’s critically important that I’m able to hit the ground running,” she said.
“I have a very keen sense of what needs to be done from all the different departments,” Zimmerman said. “In less than 48 hours, I’ve already hit the ground running.”
As she takes on the role of chief, Zimmerman will be working through recent scandals involving SDPD officers accused of sexual misconduct on the job.
This includes the case of former Officer Christopher Hays, 30, accused of inappropriate interaction with women while on duty. Last month, Hays pleaded not guilty to charges of false imprisonment and sexual battery.
There’s also the case of SDPD Officer Donald Moncrief, 39, who is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct with female detainees that may have included exposing himself to a woman while on duty. No charges have been filed against Moncrief.
Zimmerman has said she supports the proposed plan to have an outside audit of the SDPD conducted in order to review department practices and training policies in the wake of the misconduct scandals plaguing the SDPD.