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Public Safety

New SDPD Police Chief Zimmerman Can Only Serve 4 Years

San Diego Assistant Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman was named as the next chief by Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer on Feb. 26, 2014.
San Diego Police Department
San Diego Assistant Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman was named as the next chief by Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer on Feb. 26, 2014.

San Diego police chief nominee Shelley Zimmerman only has four years of city employment remaining because she enrolled in a deferred-retirement plan, pension system officials revealed Thursday.

Zimmerman entered the so-called DROP program on March 2 of last year, and will have to leave March 1, 2018, according to the San Diego City Employees Retirement System. Her retirement status was first reported by the San Diego Reader.

Currently an assistant chief, Zimmerman was selected Wednesday by Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer to replace William Lansdowne who announced his retirement last week.


The agency's public image has been compromised in recent months by allegations of sexual misconduct and other wrongdoing by a handful of officers. A longer-term challenge has been chronic underfunding that depleted the department's ranks over the years and fueled morale problems among the rank-and-file.

Lansdowne, who is stepping down Monday after 10-1/2 years in the post, called Zimmerman the best person to succeed him. She'll be the first woman to lead the department after she is confirmed next week by the San Diego City Council, where she enjoys widespread support.

It was unclear if Faulconer knew of Zimmerman's DROP enrollment when he nominated her.

In response to the question, his office sent the following statement: "I picked Shelley Zimmerman to be our next police chief because our department needs immediate leadership. I am confident she will do a fantastic job over the next four years, and take action to ensure public confidence and trust in the police department for years to come."

The DROP program was designed to benefit experienced workers by allowing them to collect pension payments in their final five years in an account that they couldn't touch until they left city employment. It was supposed to be revenue-neutral, but ended up costing the city a little more than it saved.


Only employees hired before 2005 remain eligible for DROP. Zimmerman has been with SDPD for 31 years.

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