The EDITORIAL: Community and the Search for a New Police Chief

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Dr. John E. Warren – Publisher

It is admirable that plans have been announced and amended to hold meetings throughout the city to get input on what the City of San Diego should look for in a new Police Chief. What is troubling is the idea that the process as presented, is not inclusive enough. Unless we have missed additional changes in the process, why can’t the community know who the members of the search committee are since it appears that the boards, commissions and organizations initially mentioned are made up of people who have already been vetted by the Mayor for the positions they currently hold? Why wasn’t some of the money used to hire the consultants, invested in promoting community inclusiveness for the meetings that have been announced in select parts of the city to discuss the selection process? Those with the greatest history with the police department are not necessarily on the internet. As a matter of fact, less than 50 percent of all our communities are on the internet and therefore able to use the City’s website as a substitute for reaching more of our citizens.

It should also be remembered that consultants will give you what you ask for. If we ask for consultants that will give us the value of a secret selection committee, we will get consultants who will bring materials to validate that position. It should be remembered that the community had no say in the selection of Shelley Zimmerman. She was the Mayor’s appointee almost immediately after he took office and the City Council honored that choice.

This time around, the City Council and the districts it represents should play a more active role. There should be Town Hall Meetings on the selection of a new Police Chief in every district; The City Council should have each member with an appointed person from that district on the selection committee; the members of the committee should be known to the public and the council should insist upon this. Finally, the City Council should remember that it has a vote on the matter, even though the Mayor makes the selection. It should go without saying that people within our Police Department from the rank of Captain up should be able to apply and be given serious consideration. Those who hold or have held similar positions in other areas of law enforcement in San Diego County should also have the opportunity to apply as well as others from outside of San Diego.
It still is not too late to make the corrections to the process mentioned here. Now is the time for all who have expressed concerns about the police department, make your voice heard.

 

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