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Press Release

Justice Department Releases Critical Response Report of San Diego Police Department's Misconduct Policies and Practices

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

COPS Office Releases 40 Recommendations to Implement Best Practices at San Diego Police Department

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services today announced the completion of an assessment of the San Diego Police Department’s policies and practices for preventing, detecting and investigating misconduct.  The San Diego Police Department volunteered to undergo the review by the COPS Office following a series of misconduct incidents over the course of five years.

“Our goal with this report began with identifying deficiencies in policies, practices, or organizational culture that allowed misconduct to occur and to go undetected for years in San Diego,” said COPS Office Director Ronald Davis.  “We see this report as a blueprint for reforms, and for building on the reform efforts already undertaken by former Chief William Lansdowne and Chief Shelley Zimmerman.”

The COPS Office first announced the beginning of the Critical Response Technical Assistance review in March 2014.  The report focuses on 17 cases of misconduct over five years and includes a review of how the cases were handled, and of the department’s policies and accountability system.  During the assessment, the COPS Office’s training and technical assistance provider for the assessment, the Police Executive Research Forum, conducted focus groups and interviews with city and department stakeholders, community outreach and observed operations.

The report identifies a number of deficiencies in recruiting practices, supervision and training of officers, accountability systems, and mechanisms for reviewing citizen complaints and leadership.  The assessment recommends a comprehensive approach to all aspects of policing that can help prevent misconduct.  This includes the training and supervision of officers, the recruitment and selection of new officers, accountability mechanisms, internal investigations and disciplinary practices.

“We requested and welcomed this assessment from the Department of Justice COPS Office," said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman.  “The numerous recommendations they have made will only help us improve our department and the proud service we provide to our community.”

The report, Critical Response Technical Assistance Review—Police Accountability: Findings and National Implications of an Assessment of the San Diego Police Department can be found here:

The assessment was administered as part of the COPS Office’s Critical Response Technical Assistance initiative, designed to provide technical assistance to agencies facing significant law enforcement-related issues.  Using subject matter experts, interviews and direct observations, as well as conducting extensive research and analysis, the COPS Office assists law enforcement agencies with enhancing and improving their policies and procedures, operating systems and professional culture.

The COPS Office, headed by Director Ronald Davis, is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.  Since 1995, COPS has awarded over $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 126,000 officers and provide a variety of knowledge resource products including publications, training, and technical assistance.  For additional information about COPS, please visit

Updated January 8, 2021

Press Release Number: 15-337