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What San Diegans Want In A New Police Chief

The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

Credit: Milan Kovacevic

Above: The San Diego Police Department headquarters is shown in this updated photo.

The next San Diego police chief should be compassionate and fair or should be a "cop's cop," depending who you ask.

Thursday morning San Diego's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee got an update on plans to recruit a new police chief. The report included a survey, done by Bob Murray & Associates, that reveals what fellow officers and city staff want to see in a new chief.

RELATED: City Taps Firm To Find San Diego’s Next Police Chief

San Diegans who turned out for six community workshops said a top concern was the chief must have experience working in diverse neighborhoods. Other top concerns included "racial profiling" and "policing people of color," as well as homelessness-related issues.

Public input came from the community workshops, which attracted 340 people and an online survey that got about 2,000 responses.

Police and other city staff who were surveyed wanted a strong leader and, in words of some, a "cop's cop." Police and staff also called for a chief who will "fight for what the department and staff need to do their jobs."

Community and staff did agree on several things. They both valued "transparency" in the law enforcement process and they agreed the new chief must be able to recruit and retain more officers.

RELATED: City Heights To Weigh In On San Diego’s Police Chief Search

The committee meeting did attract some demonstrations.

"This process that claims to have community input in the decision is smoke and mirrors," said Christopher Wilson, associate director of Alliance San Diego, a community advocacy group.

A point of controversy has been the makeup of three panels that will interview candidates for the job. A report from the city's hiring department said the city will publish a list of organizations invited to participate in the panels. But it won't release the names of the panel members until the interviews are complete.

Current police chief Shelley Zimmerman will retire in March. Ultimately the mayor will choose the next police chief, who then must be confirmed by the city council.

Ron Villa, the city's deputy chief operating officer, said publicly releasing the names of the three finalists who are submitted to the mayor is "still up for consideration."

The only guarantee is that the final candidate's name will be released and he or she will be interviewed in open session by the City Council prior to its vote, which is expected to happen in February.

The next San Diego police chief should be compassionate and fair or should be a "cop's cop," depending who you ask.

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