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Roundtable: New Top Cop; Rules For Pot; Pentagon Budget Cuts

Aired 2/28/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

HOST:

Mark Sauer

GUESTS:

JW August, 10News

Susan Murphy, KPBS News

Tony Perry, LA Times

SDPD Gets New Chief

On Tuesday, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne abruptly retired, prompting interim Mayor Todd Gloria to call for a nationwide search for a new chief.

The very next day, Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer announced that his choice to lead the department was SDPD Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman, a 31-year veteran of the department who would be the first woman chief in the department’s history.

Zimmerman joined the city's deferred retirement program (DROP) in 2013. That program allows some employees to collect retirement pay for the last five years of their employment. She must leave her position in 2018.

At a Wednesday news conference announcing the choice, city officials lauded the out-going chief for his many years of service and leadership. Lansdowne's recent tenure was marked, however, by sexual misconduct allegations against three SDPD officers, one of whom, Anthony Arevalos, is in prison for false imprisonment and sexual battery.

Prior to his retirement, Lansdowne made changes in rules for transporting women prisoners to jail and arranged for an outside audit of SDPD practices. The city does have a volunteer Citizens Review Board on Police Practices, but they exist in an advisory capacity only.

Finally: Medical Marijuana Rules

After five years of battling over rules for the sale of medical marijuana, the San Diego City Council this week approved new regulations for the legal operation of up to 30 medical marijuana dispensaries.

There are limitations: The dispensaries are confined to commercial and industrial zones and must be 1,000 feet away from one another, schools, playgrounds, libraries, youth facilities, parks and churches. Each council district may have up to four such shops, which must operate as nonprofits.

Before the City Coucil vote, people in favor of the dispensaries spoke about how marijuana relieves their pain and suffering. People against said that most pot smokers are only pretending to be ill so allowing the sale of medical marijuana was de facto legalization. Proponents fear opponents will launch a bid to overturn the law via the ballot. Opponents fear more kids will become addicted to pot.

The Coastal Commission must approve the new rules.

Pentagon Budget Goes Easy On San Diego

The Pentagon budget proposed by the Obama administration for 2015 is quite a bit smaller than Americans were accustomed to during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The budget shrinks the Army by some 80,000 personnel, the Army National Guard by 20,000 and the Army Reserve by 10,000.

As for the U.S. Air Force, the budget phases out its 283 A-10 Warthog planes and the U-2 spy plane, but keeps the mega-expensive, radar-evading F-35.

The U.S. Navy received some trimming: Half the Navy’s cruisers would be mothballed, and just 32 littoral combat ships would be built, instead of 52. (It's been reported that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is not particularly enamored of the LCS.)

The proposal will increase the cost of living for many military families by reducing housing allowances, increasing health care costs and cutting commissary subsidies.

But the budget keeps the military’s focus on the Pacific and boosts special forces such as Navy SEALs, the only personnel area to grow under the new budget. Spending on cyberwarfare, components of which are manufactured in Southern California, increases. Eleven aircraft carriers survive.

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