By Staff Writer
Voice & Viewpoint
On Monday evening, individuals from all areas of District 4 came out to a Town Hall called “Meet the Chief,” hosted by City Councilmember, Myrtle Cole. The purpose of the meeting was to allow residents to meet the Police Chief, hear her vision for the San Diego Police Department and have an open dialogue about community policing practices. Mario Lewis, owner of Imperial Barbershop and Co-Founder of 100 Strong served as moderator.
Chief Zimmerman stood before over 250 attendees during the question and answer period that followed her remarks, and answered audience questions posed to her by Lewis. “Do you believe racial profiling is an issue in San Diego?” Lewis said. “Absolutely!” replied Zimmerman. “The community says it’s an issue, then it’s an issue. If the perception is that we are racial profiling, we need to change that perception.” The success of the meeting was in the turn out and the amount of interest displayed by a cross section of the community. The success was also seen in the amount of time Chief Zimmerman spent after the meeting talking with all those who wanted to speak with her in a very warm and sincere manner. That alone was refreshing. But what was also revealing from her kind and personable delivery in an almost one hour talk was the fact that issues such as racial profiling and curbing people during police contracts do not have to be left to the sole discretion of the police in determining if the policy should be “modified”. During her time before the crowd, Zimmerman also stated “We need to effectively communicate with everyone.”
Some asked why there were so many police officers in Southeastern San Diego. Yet another person complimented the police on the professionalism of their police/public contacts. All the concerns and comments were as diverse as the people in attendance, which was a good thing. Councilmember Cole thanked the Chief for making her district the first of such meetings and the community for coming out and participating.
Zimmerman gave no new information over what she has been saying since her recent appointment to office. She spoke of the 140 plus community meetings her officers attend each month to stay in touch with the community and again announced the forth coming audit of the San Diego Police Department by the U.S. Department of Justice, at no cost of the city. In May, a report will be released that analyzes racial profiling in San Diego.
Photos by Nikki Legros: