Mayor Kevin Faulconer shakes hands with Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman at her 2014 swearing-in ceremony. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Back in January, Mayor Kevin Faulconer came on the VOSD Podcast.

I mentioned that initial results from a new law requiring police officers to collect data about who they stop showed that SDPD pulled over minorities at a higher rate than their share of the population. Previous reviews have shown similar findings. I asked the mayor whether he had a reaction to that data and whether he’d talked about racial profiling with SDPD Chief David Nisleit.

“I set a very clear tone in terms of what I expected for Chief Nisleit, in terms of our officers in terms of ensuring they have that trust, that we’re treating everyone fairly and we have very high standards,” he said. He also said he welcomed efforts to collect data about who police were stopping. But the mayor was also quick to pivot to the issue of police pay and retention.

Nearly a year later, putting a nice little bookend on the year, new data shows us that SDPD officers are not only stopping minorities at a higher rate than their share of the population, they’re searching them at higher rates even though they’re found with contraband less often.

But if Faulconer has publicly addressed that report, I haven’t seen it. What he did do publicly was appear at an event celebrating a program to help police officers buy homes, the day the racial profiling report was released.

Earlier this week, we published a separate analysis showing that minorities also disproportionately bear the brunt of marijuana enforcement, even though legalization was supposed to alleviate those disparities.

And before that, a major investigation of ours showed that some police officers who commit crimes – including one who knocked his wife unconscious – are still employed by SDPD.

And before that, yet another investigation showed SDPD’s crime lab had lowered its testing standards in order to clear its rape kit backlog.

On each of these stories of monumental public importance, the mayor has been silent.

Back when he’d first been elected mayor but before he’d officially taken office, he announced he’d hired his friend, Shelley Zimmerman, as police chief.

On his watch, 911 call response times ballooned, putting people’s lives in danger. His opponents in his re-election race noted the response time issue, the rape kit backlog and a host of other public safety concerns. Faulconer responded by talking about … police pay and retention.

When it comes to police and public safety issues, the mayor’s silence suggests he cares very deeply about hiring officers and very little about what those officers do after that.

What VOSD Learned This Week

A year ago during this time, border officials took the unprecedented step of shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border crossing. Maya Srikrishnan looked back at what happened leading up to the shutdown.


Faulconer made big waves when he declared himself a YIMBY and said he’d be pushing a plan to eliminate height limits. The plan is out, and it’s not exactly the explosive proposal it once seemed.


The city has tried and failed for the past 15 years to raise its hotel room tax. Lisa Halverstadt laid out that history to explain why tourism boosters and other stakeholders think the proposal on the March 2020 ballot will finally break the streak.

In other politics news: The Shermanator is in, Rep. Duncan Hunter is on his way out and some dramz is going down in Escondido.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Women are so tired of being called ‘difficult.’ But here’s the thing: As women, we sometimes have to be difficult to be heard. If you let us talk, we wouldn’t have to find a moment to interrupt. If you made space for us, we wouldn’t have to carve it out ourselves. If you listened to our concerns, we wouldn’t have had to yell for your attention.” – I’ll be over here listening to “Dangerous Woman” on repeat and replacing “dangerous” with “difficult” in my head.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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