- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - San Diego’s incoming mayor appointed Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman on Wednesday to become the first female police chief of the nation’s eighth-largest city.

The appointment announced by Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer and subject to City Council approval would make San Diego the biggest U.S. city with a woman in charge of its police department.

“I am extremely honored, extremely humbled and I consider it an absolute privilege to wear this uniform and this badge,” Zimmerman, 54, said at a news conference.

The announcement came just a day after former Police Chief Bill Lansdowne announced his retirement after nearly 11 years as chief.

Lansdowne, 69, leaves amid allegations of on-the-job sexual misconduct by his male officers against women in their custody. He already changed department policy to require that two male officers accompany women who were arrested, and he was seeking an outside audit of department policies, training and discipline.

Faulconer emphasized Wednesday that he believed Zimmerman, who has been with the department for 31 years and would become the city’s 34th chief, would enforce officer discipline.

“She understands what will be acceptable in this department and what will not be,” Faulconer said at the news conference.

Zimmerman most recently headed recruitment and training for the department.

Faulconer said he hoped the City Council would confirm Zimmerman by next week. Lansdowne’s retirement takes effect Monday, the day Faulconer is sworn in. But Lansdowne insisted the decision to retire was his, and the mayor-elect did not ask him to resign.

Other local officials, including some of the City Council members who will be voting on the appointment, praised Faulconer’s choice.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said in a statement that he has the utmost respect for Zimmerman’s “experience, insight and professionalism” and he’s confident she would lead the department into a “new era of policing.”

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in her own statement that Zimmerman was well-equipped to deal with the department’s recent troubles.

“Choosing Shelley Zimmerman ensures that a serious review and resolution of any problems at SDPD will occur quickly,” Dumanis said. “I applaud Mayor-elect Faulconer for moving quickly and for choosing the first woman chief of police in San Diego history.”