San Diego Police Chief says Professional Standards Unit is coming back to department

SAN DIEGO - When Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman took over the San Diego Police Department in February, the first order of business was to get the house she would be heading in order.

"We know that it takes years to build up the trust and it could take just seconds to start to erode that trust," said Zimmerman.

She spoke to 10News touting new statistics showing crime down significantly in the county when she made news with a change that may already be in place.

"Yes, the Professional Standards Unit is coming back and maybe it is already back and I'm going to be a little mysterious about that," she said.

"Mysterious" is fitting for a secret group of officers.

In 2003, her predecessor former chief William Lansdowne quietly disbanded what was known as the Professional Standards Unit, a group of seven officers investigating their own, proactively searching for internal misconduct.

Undercover operations went as far as to plant money in squad cars or on suspects and prostitutes offering sexual favors to avoid arrest – all to see how officers would handle it.

That self-policing is perhaps the next step for Zimmerman in her effort to restore order.

Some believe if the anti-corruption unit had been in place, it could have prevented three misconduct cases in three years: Anthony Arevelos convicted of trading tickets for sexual favors and more recently, the sex abuse allegations against Donald Moncrief and Chris Hays.

Lansdowne reportedly dissolved the unit amid budget concerns.

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