Recruiting the Next Chief of Police
- Timeline of Significant Steps in the Recruitment Process
- Community Conversation Calendar
- Community Interview Panel Nominations
- Frequently Asked Questions
The City of San Diego has initiated the recruitment for the next Chief of the San Diego Police Department. Our incumbent, Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who currently provides exceptional leadership at the Police Department and throughout our communities, is retiring and will conclude her service with the City in March 2018.
The ideal candidate must demonstrate and represent qualities and characteristics that reflect our communities. Recognizing the critical ongoing importance of community policing and neighborhood engagement, the City will host six community meetings and unveil an online survey to capture the priorities and comments of San Diegans for the next Chief of Police.
Dates and locations for the community meetings are posted below. The online survey will be posted here, and further outreach will occur to ensure widespread participation throughout our communities.
San Diego Charter section 57 provides that the Police Chief is appointed by the Mayor and the appointment is confirmed by a majority of the City Council. The community workshops are being conducted solely by Mayoral staff, to assist the Mayor with his decision making in appointing the City’s next Police Chief. The community workshops are not being conducted by the San Diego City Council or by any City of San Diego board or commission.
All input received will be used throughout the recruitment and selection process, which will be managed by the City’s Chief Operating Officer Scott Chadwick, on behalf of Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. The City will be hiring an executive recruitment firm to assist in the process.
(subject to change)
Community feedback via community forums and online survey
Select executive recruitment firm
Chief candidate recruitment
December 2017-January 2018
Selection of new chief
City Council confirmation hearing
Community Interview Panel Nominations
Mayor Faulconer is seeking nominations for organizations that would like representation on a panel composed of 24 San Diego community members to interview the top Police Chief candidates. If you would like to nominate an organization, please fill out the form at the link below by December 22.
Chief Shelley Zimmerman will retire in March 2018.
There is no doubt we have excellent police officers and leadership in the San Diego Police Department. The City's priority is to ensure the San Diego Police Department is led by someone who represents the qualities and characteristics San Diegans most value.
The search may result in the selection of an internal candidate, and it may lead to an external candidate. The recruitment process will ensure we have the opportunity to know of every option that will allow the City to select the best fit for San Diego right now and into the future.
All San Diegans deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard as we select the City of San Diego next police chief, which is why we have scheduled community workshops and have initiated an online survey to capture the public's priorities and comments.
The City has arranged the community workshops to encourage the highest level of participation. All meeting locations were selected because they have the capacity to host hundreds of members of the public from multiple communities and because they are accessible via public transit.
For people who prefer to participate from the privacy of their home, the online survey is available through October 13, 2017, and we posted video of each workshop on the Next Chief webpage. For people who wanted to follow along on social media, we live tweeted each workshop.
San Diegans have a critical role to play in helping to recruit the next police chief. Through community workshops and an online survey, we will use this input to target recruitment efforts when evaluating applicants' experience, education and skills and to create interview questions. The priorities heard from the workshops and the online survey, will help guide the selection process of the top candidate chosen by the Mayor and final confirmation by the City Council.
All of the information collected during the workshops, including videos of the workshops and feedback forms will be compiled and given to the recruitment firm.
The recruitment process was developed based on industry standards and past practice by numerous cities, as well as the advice of recruiting firms who specialize in municipal recruitments of this size and scope. That said, we are at the beginning of this process and many of the details will be born from the professional recruitment consultant the City selects.
The City conducted a search for an executive recruitment firm through a Request for Proposals (RFP) selection process.
Multiple rounds of interviews will occur, likely to begin in December 2017, with a variety of panel members who have not yet been determined. Selecting a Chief of Police for the 8th largest city in the nation should be fair, broad-based and capable of attracting the best candidates. As such, the integrity of the selection and interview process must be protected for all involved. Upon consultation with the recruiting firm, the City will determine the best course of selecting and identifying interview panel members, including whether or not to pre-identify interview panel members. Panel members should not be lobbied by prospective candidates or special interest groups and will be held to the highest standards.
This decision is consistent with other cities who have recently conducted police chief recruitments. According to internal research done by the City, at least seven cities between 2015 - 2017 conducted recruitments that did not disclose their selection panels.
- Santa Cruz, CA - 2017
- Sacramento, CA - 2017
- West Covina, CA - 2017
- San Pablo, CA - 2017
- Capitola, CA - 2016
- La Mesa, CA - 2015
- Oakland, CA - 2016
Many of these same agencies maintained the confidentiality of the interview candidates as well.
In addition to the forums and online survey, this web page will host the latest information, dates of community forums and recruitment status updates.
It is important to understand that the pool of candidates with the experience and qualifications to lead a large municipal police department such as the San Diego Police Department is very limited. Many times qualified individuals request anonymity during the recruitment process so as not to disrupt their current employment or law enforcement agency. Therefore, at this time, potential candidates will not be identified prior to the selection.
The City Charter requires the Mayor to appoint the Chief of Police with the consent of the City Council. The City Council is required to take their vote in open session which allows for public comment.