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Police Chief Bill Lansdowne could quietly back away from a city in chaos and conveniently retire with his full pension by the end of the month.
But the 10-year chief said Wednesday that he plans to stick around.
“I’m very comfortable right now and this a time where I think you need some seniority and experience to manage the city in some trying times,” said Lansdowne, who previously served stints as chief of police in San Jose and Richmond, Calif.
The city’s pension system confirmed this week that it projects Lansdowne, who already collects pensions from his previous gigs, could retire Aug. 25 and collect his full pension from San Diego too.
Lansdowne’s age and decade of service in San Diego make that possible.
Lansdowne has long said he’ll give six months’ notice before he retires. But the 69-year-old said he doesn’t plan to do that later this month, or anytime soon.
The longtime chief — who has spent more than 45 years in law enforcement — did acknowledge the controversy surrounding the mayor hasn’t made his job any easier.
“I think I’ve done rather well in shielding the department from a lot of the difficulties, I guess that’s the right word to use right now, but this is something new for me and I’ve been doing it a long time,” Lansdowne said. “I’ve been through (times) where the city had some difficult issues at the top levels but this one’s rather unique and it needs somebody, I think, with a very steady hand that can work through it.”
Perhaps Filner’s security detail has faced the most pressure.
The small group of officers, which accompanies the mayor to every appearance and throughout City Hall, has been questioned by investigators about sexual harassment allegations.
Lansdowne emphasized that the officers immediately step in if they witness a crime but don’t interfere with other mayoral interactions unless someone requests that they do so.
“They are trained not to be a part of the day’s operation. They don’t listen to conversations. They don’t repeat conversations,” Lansdowne said. “They stay at least 20 feet away so they’re not interfering in the conversations that people have but if they saw someone was in distress, they would immediately move in and deal with that. If someone came to them with an issue or a problem, they would deal with that too and they’d report it to me.”
So have the officers reported any concerns to Lansdowne?
He wouldn’t say.