Relations between minority communities and the police are the biggest story in the country right now.  Here in San Diego, we had a flare-up earlier this year after the San Diego Police Department downplayed community concerns about racial profiling and stopped following a key policy to prevent it.

New Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman released a public service announcement this week urging community members who believe they’ve experienced profiling to report it to the department.

“As the head of this department, I have been clear from Day One, I will not tolerate any instances of racial profiling or even discourteous treatment to anyone in our community,” Zimmerman said. “I will meet with any community group or organization that wants to help.”

The video was released in partnership with the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association and La Raza Lawyers Association, which advocate for legal rights for black and Hispanic communities, respectively. There’s also a version in Spanish.

Zimmerman also has told her officers to scale back the use of tactics minority community members have found offensive: forcing people to sit on the curb during routine stops and immediately asking someone’s probation or parole status at a traffic stop. And the department is rolling out body cameras, which are intended to monitor interactions between cops the community.

We Stand Up For You. Will You Stand Up For Us?

All these things demonstrate the department is listening more to community concerns. But it remains to be seen how much impact the efforts will have on lasting change within the department.

SDPD again is collecting racial data on traffic stops – the policy it had ignored in recent years. The newest data show significant disparities in stop and search rates between white and minority communities. But the department says that the numbers are inconclusive as to whether profiling occurs. SDPD has not invested in a more robust data collection and analysis effort to provide better results.

    This article relates to: News, Police, Racial Profiling, San Diego Police, Share

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

    James Weber
    James Weber subscriber

    This is some funny chit.  Dance puppet, dance.

    Mike subscriber

    Kind of a sad statement for our government agencies (federal, state, and local).  30+ years after the invention of the internet.  15+ years after the Blackberry.  And the police still has to ASK if someone is on parole.  Our government agencies are so hilariously ancient in terms of technology (with the only exception being the NSA).  Even these tinker toy body cameras are such a huge deal for the police.  However, with the new cameras, now the public (if we're allowed to) can see for ourselves what happened during every police stop.  I still hope they put all their videos on a youtube-like website so the public can appreciate how much of it is boring and "normal" and how much of it is actually controversial.  My bet is that only the tiny few controversial ones make the news so the public's opinion is totally biased, but I could be wrong.  We need the police to be transparent with their videos first.  

    Victor Torres
    Victor Torres subscribermember

    Lets give the Chief the benefit of a doubt... for now. People SHOULD call in and make their complaints over discourteous behavior or racial profiling - then its up to her to let the public know what happened to those complaints. Were they acted upon or where they shuffled around and ignored until the complainant got frustrated and gave up, like past administrations have done. The Chief has to be accountable if she wants the public's trust.

    Matty Azure
    Matty Azure subscriber

    What's a "policy"?


    Thomas Jackson, FPD

    Richard Tanner
    Richard Tanner subscriber

    The problem the chief has is creditability.  She along with her former police chiefs have stopped, impeded or just ignored the community looking into actions by her force. She can not have it both ways, she participated in the so called investigations of her officers and the truth was not really forth coming. Now she wants the public to believe she is going to change the culture.  The police force will be judged by their actions not the words (no matter how nice sounding) of the chief.  

    Jerry Hall
    Jerry Hall subscriber

    @Richard Tanner I'm much more apt to believe that most in the chain of command are relatively powerless, meaning (now) Chief Zimmerman and others would have had little influence on wider policies with the previous Chief Landsdowne and former administrations. 

    I believe that over time this chief will prove her commitment to cleaning house. Not to say that Chief Landsdowne did a bad job as much as to say what's done is done and now there's a new chief in town. 

    There's also the issue of a pretty closed system internally (PD) so asking for citizens and other stakeholders to let the PD (HQ) know something is wrong by reporting it directly is probably the best way for people who feel offended to get the quickest attention. 

    I'm a fan of Shelley, she's a pro and cares very much about principle. It's going to take time for the department itself and citizens to trust that she has all stakeholders interests in mind, not just one group or the other. My bet is time will prove her to be a model leader. 

    (edited for clarity 4pm)