The San Diego Police Department’s Values – Theory vs Action

September 13, 2021


Re: The San Diego Police Department’s Values – Theory vs Action

The San Diego Police Department website ( states that the Department has eight core values. Based on our review, below, , we find a Department whose culture and practices do not live up to those values. Let’s go through them one by one.

Human Life
Our efforts will be oriented toward the goal of protecting human life and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

If human life and giving everyone an opportunity to thrive is a value, why does the SDPD continue to punch and shoot the unhoused? How do pretext stops and pulling them out of their cars help Black men thrive?

When a Sergeant calls on his fellow officers to join an armed insurrection because they are asked to wear masks, what does that say about the value they place on human life? The media reports that 91% of Police Officers’ Association members oppose vaccine mandates; how does not wanting to protect one’s fellow officers and the public from a deadly disease square with valuing life?

Our actions will be guided by the highest level of virtue and ethical practice through open communication and transparency.

We do not find communication to be open or transparent. The Department has a long history of denial and downplay of the SDPD being replete with bias, both implicit and explicit. When we ask for records that may indicate this bias, the Department and the City flat out lie to us and claim they do not have data we KNOW they have.

Chief Nisleit deflects with good-sounding tales about officers who do the right thing, as an answer to questions about officers who do the wrong thing.

If the Department is so committed to openness, then why do they regularly shout at and put hands on citizens who are exercising their right to observe and record their actions?

We will work collaboratively with our community to resolve challenges, protect individual rights, and promote prosperity.

You cannot effectively partner with a community that knows you allow bias against them to run rampant. The recent Center for Police Equity report, like the watered-down SDSU study from a few years ago, makes clear that the Department is replete with bias. When a police vehicle barrels through a park to harass an old Black man for violating quarantine, but allows a White Supremacist rally downtown, you are not partnering with the Black community.

As noted above, you cannot effectively partner with a community when you use pretext stops to harass its members who pose no threat to others.You cannot effectively partner with a community when you refuse to tell the truth.

We embrace and appreciate the unique experiences and backgrounds that provide strength and unity to our organization.

Is putting a cardboard cutout that evokes a racial stereotype in a break room as a “motivational” device showing that you value diversity? Is not having a plan to monitor and combat extremism and White supremacy in your organization something that makes non-White people feel valued? Is having officers walking through the building with paper bags on their heads to protest mask mandates, like spoiled children, conducive to diversity? Is the continuation of biased enforcement practices helping to retain officers who come from targeted communities?

Employee Enrichment
We will provide for the professional development and wellness of our employees through access to ongoing training and a robust employee wellness program. Through these commitments we will continually advance the professional knowledge, personal growth and career longevity of our employees.

We complain a lot about policing. At the same time, we recognize that the police are being asked to do a very difficult job that exposes them to a significant amount of trauma. We need them to have fully funded and effective wellness programs. We need regular checkups so that officers can get the help they need. The current programs are simply not adequate.

We will strive to show genuine concern for one another in both our interactions with the community and within our organization. We recognize that the complexities of life compel us to do nothing less.

Is it compassionate to respond to a woman walking her dog by throwing her to the ground? Is it compassionate to beat up a man for attempting to urinate? Is it compassionate to stop people doing nothing wrong except having Black skin? To then pull them out of cars, cuff and search them? Is it compassionate to shoot a confused man who is trying to comply with orders?

We are committed to leading the law enforcement community through innovative practices in order to maintain our position at the forefront of policing.

We’re not sure what evidence there is of innovation in the SDPD. What we see instead is stonewalling and refusal to change. They were lobbied ceasely to end the chokehold, but there was no motion until their hand was forced by Mr George Floyd’s murder and violence at a protest.

Various community organizations and City boards have requested common-sense reforms such as a good de-escalation policy, ceasing pretext stops and ceasing implied-consent searches. For all of these things, there is ample evidence that the status quo was (or is) unacceptable, but the SDPD has moved at a glacial pace, if at all, even in terms of policy. How changes such as the de-escalation policy and the somewhat-improved consent search policy will affect actual operations is as yet unknown.

Courageous Justice
We will be undeterred in our pursuit of fairness, peace, and a genuine well-being for all people.

What we see are SDPD officers being undeterred in their aggression toward the people of San Diego. Where are the videos of officers intervening with their fellows on behalf of citizens? Instead, we see groups of officers standing around watching unnecessarily aggressive policing occur.

We understand that intervention on the side of the public requires extraordinary courage in an organization rife with extremists (91% oppose vaccines?) and racial bias (see the SDSU and CPE reports.)

It is time for courage to be shown by the Mayor and City Council. The SDPD cannot be changed by a few “good apples” working from the bottom up. We need bold leadership at the top, leadership that has not been shown by Chief Nisleit. The Mayor must put the community first and change the culture of the SDPD, both in the 7th floor leadership and of the rank and file. The residents of the 8th largest city in America deserve no less.

Further, other Law Enforcement Agencies in our region are led by veterans of the SDPD. If Mayor Gloria is willing to show bold leadership by replacing SDPD management, the effect will ripple to all the other agencies in our region, and we may see some positive change.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch


If you need more information about the NAACP San Diego Branch, please visit

PO Box 152086
San Diego CA 92195

(619) 431-1633 Phone/Text

Celebrating 102 years of civil rights advocacy in San Diego

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