The city of San Diego received international acclaim in the 1990s for its approach to policing, thanks to a method that focused on preventing crime and building community trust rather than just responding to incidents. Shelley Zimmerman, who is expected to be approved as the city’s new chief Tuesday, knows about that legacy as much as anyone.
Before her ascension, Zimmerman served as assistant chief for neighborhood policing, a position created to manage the strategy, known as problem-oriented policing or community policing. That position saw her passing out candy at a Mount Hope YMCA’s Halloween party and touting the number of community meetings SDPD officers attend.
Zimmerman’s predecessor, William Lansdowne, focused on something else.
Lansdowne emphasized speedy response times. Under Lansdowne, SDPD analyzed a massive amount of crime data to deploy cops to probable hot spots. Lansdowne oversaw San Diego’s lowest crime rates in a half-century, but also let some policies to prevent officer misconduct and racial profiling fall by the wayside.