SDPD Chief Gives Progress Report on DOJ Recommendations

The San Diego Police Department is charging forward with U.S. Department of Justice recommendations to improve service, but at a public SDPD presentation Wednesday evening, some residents made it clear that not everyone is satisfied with current results.

The San Diego City Council’s safety committee moved their meeting to the Jacobs Center in Lincoln Park to accommodate the large crowd who came to hear SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman’s briefing. She addressed steps the department has taken to improve its relationship with the community.

In the 70 minute presentation, Zimmerman and members of her command staff methodically outlined the 40 Justice Department’s Police Executive Research Forum recommendations —garnered through a year-long investigation --and how the SDPD is implementing them. They include changes to the hiring process, the supervision of officers and misconduct detection.

The key to success is what the chief calls procedural justice.

“When we talk about procedural justice, a large component of procedural justice is to explain what we are doing to make sure our public understands,” said Zimmerman.

She extolled rooting out bias culture and getting back to community-orienting policing, where police and the community work collaboratively to keep neighborhoods safe. She said the department’s personal bias training is available to members of the public.

The Student African American Brotherhood sat front and center, becoming the first to respond to Zimmerman.

“Every time Chief Zimmerman is asked is there racial profiling in the SDPD, they gloss over it,” said local SAAB president Mark Jones. “They don't answer the question. That data shows that it's a problem, and our concern is that once again nobody is really paying attention to this.”

Members also called on Mayor Kevin Faulconer to intervene to stop racial profiling in the department.

They want him to admit there is a problem and create a task force fix the issue.

Gloria Cooper, who lives just down the street from the Jacobs Center, said she is impressed with what's said but not what's done.

“There is nothing in the city budget to implement these recommendations,” she told NBC 7. “You have the resources to devote to the most pressing recommendation.”

If the goal is to build police credibility, ACLU Spokesperson Margaret Dooley-Sammuli says the department needs to change its policy on releasing video of crimes – either from body worn or surveillance cameras.

The ACLU is calling for the release of surveillance tape that shows SDPD Officer Neal Browder shooting and killing suspect Fridoon Rawshannehad two weeks ago. The officer did not have his body camera turned on at the time.

“Rather than project the sense of hunkering down and closing off, rather open up and use this terrible tragedy to demonstrate community trust,” said Dooley-Sammuli.

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