David Nisleit named new chief of San Diego Police Department

Nisleit replaces the retiring Shelley Zimmerman
Posted at 10:47 AM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 22:01:41-05

Veteran lawman David Nisleit, who has climbed the

ranks of the San Diego Police Department for three decades, was named Thursday by

Mayor Kevin Faulconer as the next head cop of the nation's eighth-largest city.

   Nisleit, currently one of the agency's assistant chiefs, will succeed

Chief Shelley Zimmerman upon confirmation by the full City Council at a yet-to-

be scheduled meeting.

   Zimmerman, who has served in the post for four years, is set to step

down in March, ending a 35-year tenure with the department.

   "SDPD is poised to enter a new era of excellence," Faulconer said in

announcing Nisleit's pending promotion during a late-morning City Hall news


   Nisleit, 52, followed in his father's footsteps as a venerable member

of the department and has served in the agency's gang, robbery, narcotics,

homicide, sex crimes, SWAT, internal affairs and special operations units.

   While conducting a nationwide search for Zimmerman's successor, city

officials solicited citizen input during a half-dozen public meetings and

received about 2,000 online surveys from residents.

   Nisleit "was overwhelmingly the consensus choice of both the

community and professional panels" that offered guidance for the decision, the

mayor said.

   Among his priorities in the post, Nisleit told reporters, will be

achieving full department staffing by casting a "wide net" for recruits

while focusing on local candidates and continuing to bolster community-policing


   "With the strength of staffing levels back, we will be able to

improve our response times to all calls and continue to reduce our already low

crime rate," Nisleit said. "What I heard loud and clear during the community

forums was (that) the community wanted to see increased accountability,

continued transparency and a commitment to community policing. I'm proud to say

... (those) have been the core principals that the San Diego Police Department

has been known for. It's my responsibility as your chief to find unique ways to

continue building upon these values."

   There are currently more than 200 vacant positions in the department,

which has not been fully staffed in over a decade.

   Faulconer predicted that an approved new police contract with a

competitive pay package, coupled with a national recruitment and marketing

effort, will have the ranks of the department completely filled out again by


   Nisleit said he plans to build on the legacy of Zimmerman, whom he

considers a mentor and friend.

   The outgoing chief, for her part, described Nisleit as "an

exceptional, proven leader who has given his all to our department and our


   In a prepared statement, Jack Schaeffer, president of the San Diego

Police Officers Association, declared that Faulconer had "hit a home run with

this appointment."

   "Assistant Chief Nisleit has had an exemplary career with our

department, has deep roots in our community and will be a tremendous leader for

our members," Schaeffer stated. "During the course of his 30-year career,

Nisleit has built important relationships throughout our department and

understands the unique needs of San Diego neighborhoods."

   On a more critical note, City Councilman David Alvarez contended that

the recently concluded process of searching for the city's next police chief

had relied on non-public backroom deliberations, a similar stance to those held

by Alliance San Diego and the local American Civil Liberties Union branch.

   Alvarez said he would push for Nisleit to be specific about his plans

for the department during the confirmation process.

   "The San Diego Police Department has fewer officers today than (it)

did when the council confirmed (Zimmerman)," the councilman said. "The

failure of leadership has depleted the department. The public needs to hear

detailed plans from the chief on how he will address the police department's

staffing crisis. Unlike the secret panels established to conduct the search,

the confirmation process for the new chief must be transparent."

   The recruitment boards interviewed a half-dozen finalists from across

the country. The names of those runner-up candidates were withheld to protect

their privacy, according to a spokesman for the mayor.

   Nisleit, married with three grown children, holds a master's degree in

business administration and management from the University of Redlands and

completed the FBI National Academy.

   A resident of the Sabre Springs neighborhood off Interstate 15, the

soon-to-be top cop is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of

Police, the San Diego SWAT Officers Association and the Regional Task Force on

the Homeless.