SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Before Shelley Zimmerman was announced as the new police chief, outgoing Chief Bill Lansdowne sat down with CBS News 8 for a one-on-one interview.
You could almost sense a sigh of relief from the chief Wednesday that his days as the city's top cop are coming to an end. During our candid conversation, he shared the highs and lows of his 10-year tenure before riding off into retirement next Monday.
Lansdowne says it's time to give his troops a fresh start with a new leader to lift the black cloud of turmoil that's rocked his administration for the past couple of years.
"It took a lot of hard thinking. It has been very difficult. I think my wife took it worse than I did – I'll be home full time," Lansdowne joked.
The 69-year-old, who took the job in August 2003, formally submitted his retirement papers Wednesday morning. He came to his decision after two private meetings with Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer over the past week.
"I thought it was time for me to let someone else come in. (Faulconer) agreed with me, but he let me make the decision," Lansdowne said.
We asked the North County resident if he regretted disbanding the Professional Standards Unit, which would have investigations alleged of misconduct, including the case involving former officer Anthony Arevalos.
"Very expensive to operate and not as effective as it could be. I moved those people into the Internal Affairs Unit to get the cases done quicker. Then as the cases they used to look at came up, I have an Intelligence Unit that does it all the time, they're far more skilled at doing it. Or if it's a criminal case, I bring the people trained to do criminal cases… and they do a much better job in those investigations internally," Lansdowne said.
CBS News 8 also wanted to know why he did not immediately order that two officers be present to transport female suspects following the Arevalos allegations.
"We've made that change, it's in place as we speak. This is a constantly-evolving business. You've got to take a look at the problems and find solutions," he said.
We also wanted to know if he thought the public's trust of the police is at an all-time low because of the incidents, including the recent DUI arrest of Detective Karen Almos.
"People make mistakes sometimes. There's no failsafe system. As long as you're working on it and you find solutions, I think everybody's comfortable," Lansdowne said.
On a positive note, the chief is hoping he will be remembered for working hard to lower the violent crime rate and that he created a wellness program for employees who have a very stressful job.
So what will he never forget about the SDPD?
"I'm going to miss the people. I'm going to miss just the personal responsibility of making people safe," Lansdowne said.
The chief also told us he's really going miss coming into work before the crack of dawn every morning, knowing that his personnel did their best to keep citizens safe while he was sleeping.