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Recruiting the Next Chief of Police

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Give your input on Police Chief recruitment!

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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.

Timeline of Significant Steps in the Recruitment Process

(subject to change)

September-October 2017

Community feedback via community forums and online survey

October 2017

Select executive recruitment firm

December 2017-January 2018

Candidate interviews

January 2018

Selection of new chief

February 2018

City Council confirmation hearing

Community Conversation Calendar

PDF icon Community Conversation Calendar Flyer


SaturdaySat 23 Sept

Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

404 Euclid Ave.
San Diego, CA 92114

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 - 1 p.m.


TuesdayTue 26 Sept

Mira Mesa Senior Center

8460 Mira Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92126

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 - 6 p.m.


ThursdayThu 28 Sept

San Diego LGBT Center

3909 Centre St.
San Diego, CA 92103

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 - 6 p.m.


WednesdayWed 4 Oct

Mid-City Gym

4302 Landis St.
San Diego, CA 92105

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 - 6 p.m.

Self-pay parking available at the City Heights Center
University and 43rd St. (entrance on 43rd St.)
$1.00 an hour/$5.00 maximum


ThursdayThu 5 Oct

Standley Recreation Center

3585 Governor Drive
San Diego, CA 92122

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 - 6 p.m.


TuesdayTue 10 Oct

Col. Irving Salomon San Ysidro Community Activity Center

179 Diza Road
San Diego, CA 92173

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 - 6 p.m.

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 15.

San Diego Police Chief Community Interview Panel Nomination Form

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the City searching for a new Chief of Police?

Chief Shelley Zimmerman will retire in March 2018.

Why is the City searching nationwide?

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.

How can San Diegans participate in the recruitment and selection of the next Chief of Police?

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.

What will happen to the information collected at the workshops?

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.

How was the recruitment and selection plan developed?

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.

How was the recruitment firm selected?

The City conducted a search for an executive recruitment firm through a Request for Proposals (RFP) selection process.

Who will be on the interview panel? What is the process for selecting the interview panel members?

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.

How can I stay up to date on the process?

In addition to the forums and online survey, this web page will host the latest information, dates of community forums and recruitment status updates.

Will we get to find out who is being considered?

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.

Once the Mayor has made his choice, will residents have input before the City Council votes?

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.

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