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SDPD veteran Scott Wahl appointed by mayor to be next San Diego Police chief

San Diego Police Chief Scott Wahl
Posted at 6:56 AM, Mar 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-21 16:10:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Mayor Todd Gloria on Thursday announced San Diego Police Department Assistant Chief Scott Wahl as his appointee to be the department's new chief.

With current SDPD Chief David Nisleit set to retire in June, Gloria stated his choice was Wahl to be Nisleit’s successor.

In a news release, the mayor said, “The City of San Diego is one of the safest big cities in America – and, as Mayor, it is my highest priority to keep it that way. Assistant Chief Wahl shares my commitment to ensure every San Diegan in every neighborhood is safe, while also bringing about the necessary changes to the Department in order the build trust and meet our community’s expectations of today. As a 25-year veteran of SDPD, I know he is up to the job, and that’s why I am proud to appoint him as our next Police Chief.”

Wahl is a San Diego native whose father was a San Diego Police officer. Wahl began his SDPD career in the Southern Division, and throughout his 25 years in the department, he has served as a vice unit detective, in the public affairs department, and as an assistant chief.

“I am honored by the trust our Mayor, Todd Gloria, has put in me to lead the San Diego Police Department. I look forward to working collaboratively with him, the City Council, and our community to ensure public safety and a better quality of life for all. Together, we will build a department that is reflective of our city and worthy of your trust and collaboration," Wahl said in a statement.

Nisleit is retiring from the department after 36 years of service, the last six years as Chief of Police.

The announcement of Wahl's appointment comes after the city conducted massive efforts to gather public input on what the community wants to see in the next chief. The city opened an online survey in January and also hosted nine forums across all of the city's districts.

More than 800 people took the online survey and about 200 people attended the district forums.

When looking at the online survey responses, three parts that scored the highest: the characteristics people want to see in the chief, how the chief would engage in the community, and the qualities they think the chief should have.

For characteristics, 96% of the community members said integrity, trustworthiness, honesty, ethical decision-making, and fairness were important factors.

For community engagement, 65% of surveyors said the next chief should be solution-oriented towards tackling underlying conditions to public safety problems.

For qualities, 68% of those surveyed said it's important for the chief to be motivating, inspiring, and commanding when leading their officers and the SDPD staff.

The mayor’s appointee will still need to be confirmed by the City Council.

To see the full results of the online survey, visit