Skip to main content

ALERT: KPBS 89.5FM is undergoing scheduled upgrade work which may result in a temporary signal outage. Click here to listen on our radio stream.

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

First Public Hearing For San Diego Police Chief Nominee Focuses On Diversity, Transparency

San Diego homicide Capt. David Nisleit talks about the search for a man belie...

Photo by Associated Press

Above: San Diego homicide Capt. David Nisleit talks about the search for a man believed responsible for two murders and two assaults of homeless citizens, July 6, 2016.

First Public Hearing For San Diego Police Chief Nominee Focuses On Diversity, Transparency


Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News


Feedback on Mayor Kevin Faulconer's choice of veteran lawman David Nisleit as the next police chief was largely positive Monday at the first of two City Council confirmation hearings, with representatives from a range of groups describing the current assistant chief as a leader with integrity who is dedicated to building relationships in the community he serves.

Critics focused not on the qualities of Nisleit, but took the opportunity to speak about their concerns on the lack of diversity in the department's highest ranks and implored the council to push Nisleit for specifics about how he would strengthen trust with communities of color, address bias and improve transparency and accountability.

Several speakers also said reforms are needed to give more civilian oversight of the department.

RELATED: Mayor’s Selection For Next SDPD Chief Says Public Should Expect Transparency

Nisleit, 52, was selected by Faulconer earlier this month as the successor to Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who is set to retire in March. His nomination must be confirmed by a majority vote of the council. The public hearing on his appointment will continue Feb. 26 at 2 p.m., where the council will question Nisleit before taking a vote.

Nisleit has served in the department's gang, robbery, narcotics, homicide, sex crimes, SWAT, internal affairs and special operations units.

While conducting a nationwide search for Zimmerman's successor, city officials solicited input from the public during a half-dozen meetings and received about 2,000 online surveys from residents. Faulconer also sought the input of advisory boards of community leaders and city executives.

The names of the half-dozen finalists interviewed by those boards will not be made public due to privacy considerations, according to Faulconer's office.

Nisleit was the overwhelming choice of those boards, city officials said.

District Attorney Summer Stephan, former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and representatives from the United African American Ministerial Action Council and Latino, Pacific Islander and black police officers associations put their support behind Nisleit on Tuesday.

"We depend on their good work," Stephan said. "What we require is integrity, trust, competence and leadership at the San Diego Police Department and this is exactly what Chief Nisleit provides."

RELATED: San Diego Leaders React To Appointment Of New Police Chief David Nisleit

Maria Cortez, a 45-year City Heights resident, said Nisleit is focused on community policing.

"We need somebody that is there for the community. He has always been there for the community," she said. "The nation should take a look at us in City Heights and see how we work with the police department and how the police department works with us."

Others, however, said that the council should ask Nisleit to put in writing his specific plans to address important issues facing the department such as the recruitment, promotion and retention of people of color and women.

"There's a lack of color in everything that has to do with SDPD," Francine Maxwell said. "I am asking you to dissect the word 'diversity' when people stand here and tell you that we have diversity."

Mallory Webb, president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's youth council, said that she too wanted specifics — about how Nisleit plans to address bias in policing and connect with youth of color in neighborhoods such as Southeast San Diego.

Others raised concerns about cooperation between police officers and immigration officials and racial profiling in the department.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.