Mar 21, 2024 - News

Mayor Gloria picks 25-year SDPD veteran as new police chief

The new San Diego police chief stands at a podium with other government officials behind him.

SDPD Assistant Chief Scott Wahl (center). Photo: Andrew Keatts/Axios

Scott Wahl, a seasoned assistant chief, has been promoted to chief of police, pending confirmation by the City Council, Mayor Todd Gloria announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Appointing the city's top cop is one of the mayor's chief responsibilities, and Wahl takes over a department struggling to maintain emergency response times due to a yearslong staffing crisis.

What they're saying: "There are communities who have expressed concerns about policing, and much like our city evolves and changes to the needs and desires of our residents, so, too, should our police department," Gloria said at a Thursday press conference introducing Wahl.

Catch up quick: Wahl began his 25-year SDPD career as an officer in the southern division, before becoming a detective in the vice unit and then a captain in the northern division.

Between the lines: Wahl is the third consecutive chief to be chosen internally after spending at least 25 years in the department.

Wahl listed three priorities for his leadership of SDPD.

  • Establish trust within the department and community.
  • Develop officers into leaders in order to combat turnover from retirements.
  • Streamline the department to make it more effective and efficient.

Axios asked Wahl if his promised streamlining meant reorganizing the department to do more with less, in response to its struggle to hire and retain enough officers to maintain staffing levels.

  • "I'm not going to say that we don't need more police officers — we absolutely need more police officers. … What I want to do is make sure, before I ask for more police officers, that we're using the ones we have efficiently and effectively — to make sure our response times are kept at the forefront," Wahl said.

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