BOMA Leaders meet with San Diego Police Chief Dave Nisleit
David Nisleit, who was promoted to the City of San Diego’s 35th Chief of Police on March 2, 2018, joined several members of BOMA San Diego's leadership for our quarterly meeting with a public official on June 5th. Chief Nisleit oversees the eighth largest police department in the nation. He is a native San Diegan and grew up in the Rolando Community. Chief Nisleit began his career with the San Diego Police Department in February 1988, following his father’s footsteps, retired Captain Randy Nisleit. Continuing in the Chief's footsteps, his son Ryan Nisleit, recently graduated from the San Diego Police Academy and is currently a patrol officer.
The Chief talked about this past weekend's activities as an introduction to his day to day job. He said it started with what was thought to be an active shooter situation near the Rock and Roll Marathon finish line. The Chief had to make the tough call to stop the race given it's location at the City Concourse Parkade which is a couple of blocks from the finish line. The location was challenging because of all of the road closures, so it was difficult getting officers to the scene. The situation unfolded quickly with the woman holding a weapon and pointing it at the responding officers. He noted that the officers showed amazing restraint given the confusion of the situation with a shot fired, echoes and a suicidal woman pointing the weapon at pedestrians and police.
The Chief said that at the same time, they were dealing with a kidnapping out of Chula Vista and thought it might be connected to the active shooter at the City Parkade given the name, physical description and car were all similar. Added to the complicated response at the scene, not knowing if there was a kidnapped victim involved.
He also said there was a pit bull attack at SeaWorld, where the dog swam from Fiesta Island to SeaWorld and bit a patron, as well as the fire at I-8 and Adobe Falls. He said it was an unusually exciting Sunday and just a day in the life.
The Chief was asked what the biggest issues were based on public feedback. He said homeless and traffic issues (running stop signs, speeding through neighborhoods, etc) were front and center. He also noted the bikes and scooters and issues along the boardwalk and downtown have gotten some attention (he did note that for motorized scooters, you have to have a drivers license and a helmet...he also noted that they issued 275 citations on the boardwalk for scooter related matters over the Memorial Day Weekend).
On the homeless front, he is seeing some improvement. The transitional tents have helped. There are about 700 people in those tents and over 130 transition out of the tents to permanent housing. He said that the recent point in time count showed progress, and also said that he has seen it on the street.
In terms of what his department is doing, the Chief has created a "Neighborhood Policing Division" overseen by an Assistance Chief and led by a Captain making it like the other divisions under his command. He said their goal is to start with compassion, but make sure the laws of the city are being following and the public and their property is being protected. He said that in Downtown, they work with the Clean and Safe Team and Psychiatric Emergency Response Team clinicians of which there are 25 right now, with most reporting to the department. He also noted that the new storage facility in Barrio Logan will open later in June. His main focus is to make the condition on the streets better, and avoid another issue like the Hep A crisis last year.
The Chief talked about the state of the department. He said he has 1,800 officers working for the city which is the lowest ratio of officers to population in the Country, but also have the lowest crime rate. He said that "Part 1" crimes (significant crimes, like homicides) are all very, very low. He said they are working to drive those numbers down even further by hiring more officers. He said his goal is to put more officers on the beat, walking, bikes and close to the ground.
He discussed the situation with pay and recruitment noting that the City of San Diego is 19th out of 19 agencies in the region. He said the situation is getting better, particularly with the Mayor and Council working to approve an 8.3% increase this year adding up in 3 years to a 25% increase. As a result, applications are up 30% for the academy and they have 49 students in the academy right now.
He said there are still challenges, including Prop B pension reform changes and the salary freeze, which has led to a number of senior officers going into the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP). He said they are losing 14 officers a month and that 60% of staff is less than 6 years on the job.
In terms of one of the biggest concerns no one really hears about, he said terrorist activity and the border situation is prominent for his command. It's a major threat to every city in the United States. There are very bad people being arrested who are plotting to doing very bad things. No one hears about it, but it's there and the Police Department is working every day with the FBI to assist in protecting our homeland.
Opioids are also a major problem. Overdoses are a regular occurrence, including on the streets noting there is no real demographic. It hits people of all ages, races, financial conditions. He said the public will see a response from law enforcement agencies throughout the region, including the creation of joint Opioid Task Force.
The Chief closed by describing his off duty activities, which include being an Orange Theory addict. He also enjoys running, cycling, golf and spending time with his wife, three kids, and grandson. He noted that he and his wife have four dogs, three dachshunds and one lab that also occupy their time.
The group thanked the Chief and his team for their service to the community and to our members.