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Filner Keeps Public Safety Chiefs, Calls For Multi-Million Dollar Public Safety Investment

San Diego Fire and Rescue Department Truck 10 sits in a fire station garage.
San Diego Fire and Rescue Department Truck 10 sits in a fire station garage.

Mayor-elect Bob Filner made an announcement about the future of the city's public safety while surrounded by the top brass from the lifeguards, fire and police department. He vowed that the days of denigrating public servants in the city are over.

He will keep Fire Chief Javier Mainar and Police Chief William Lansdowne on in their current positions. And one of his first acts will be to request the City Council take $22 million from San Diego’s liability fund to pay for public safety upgrades. The money is part of a $27-million settlement paid to the city by SDG&E for damages related to the 2007 wildfire.

Filner said this will help the departments restore services after years of budget cuts. Among the potential upgrades, $8 million would go toward a new police communications system and $9 million would go toward a new fire station.


"The police officers and, to some extent, the firefighters, have gone from proactive policing and community policing, to cross-your-fingers policing," he said. "They cross their fingers that while they’re answering a call or an incident, that nothing worse occurs while they’re there. And we have got to end that."

Councilwoman Marti Emerald supports Filner’s idea to take money from the liability fund. That’s the account the city uses to pay off lawsuit settlements. Current Mayor Jerry Sanders had ordered the money to be deposited into the liability fund. But Emerald said upgrading public safety could reduce the number of lawsuits filed in the first place.

"So I am so thrilled that our next mayor, Bob Filner, is taking this up as one of his first acts as mayor to insist that we move that money out of our liability fund and to actually cut that liability," she said. "We begin to cut our city liability by offering better public safety."

Filner will need the City Council’s approval to use the money. He will be sworn into office on December 3.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.