- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - William Lansdowne said Tuesday that he was resigning as San Diego’s police chief after nearly 11 years on the job and would leave office the same day that a new mayor is sworn in to lead the nation’s eighth-largest city.

Lansdowne, 69, retires as his department faces officer-misconduct allegations. Earlier this month, he said he would seek an outside audit of the department’s policies, training and discipline.

Lansdowne said Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer didn’t ask him to resign but that he felt the time was right to step aside, calling it a difficult decision. The chief informed Faulconer on Monday night.

Faulconer, a two-term Republican city councilman, told the U-T San Diego newspaper on Monday that he would demand changes at the department and declined to say if he wanted Lansdowne to stay.

“There is absolutely a need to make sure we have public trust and confidence in the San Diego Police Department,” Faulconer told the newspaper. “I will be taking definitive steps to make sure that happens.”

After the chief announced he was leaving, Faulconer told reporters that Lansdowne was “a fantastic leader.” He said he would move quickly to name a replacement.

“The decision to resign was the chief’s and the chief’s alone,” Faulconer said.

Other politicians and law enforcement officials also applauded Lansdowne’s tenure on Tuesday. The San Diego Police Officers Association, which endorsed Faulconer in this month’s election, called the chief “the right leader at a time when our department needed it.”

Brian Marvel, president of the officers union, said he didn’t know why Lansdowne stepped down but believes the allegations of officer misconduct influenced his decision. He said the union didn’t seek Lansdowne’s exit.

“He’s a very honorable man, and maybe he felt all the attention was being focused on him,” Marvel said. “I think he felt like, let’s not make it about me.”

The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties said it commended Lansdowne’s years of service and applauded his “immediate and serious response” to allegations of officer misconduct and racial profiling. It urged the city to follow through on Lansdowne’s call for an outside audit.

Lansdowne became police chief in August 2003, serving during two major wildfires and overseeing a drop in crime. He previously held the same position in San Jose for five years, where he spent decades rising through the ranks.

In 2011, several officers were investigated for allegations that included off-duty domestic violence and DUI. That year, Officer Anthony Arevalos was convicted of using his authority to elicit sexual favors from women he stopped on traffic violations. He is serving more than eight years in prison, but a judge on Tuesday overturned two of those charges, including sexual battery, and he will be resentenced.

More recently, an officer resigned after being arrested this month on suspicion of sexual battery and false imprisonment in connection with four women he contacted on duty.

In 2012, Lansdowne was paid $210,660 in salary, according to the U-T. His annual pension from San Jose is $223,000.