San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne

San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, shown in 2011, said Tuesday he will retire effective Monday. (Howard Lipin / Associated Press / August 7, 2011)

SAN DIEGO -- Police Chief Bill Lansdowne said Tuesday that he will retire effective Monday, after 10 years as chief.

Lansdowne, 69, became chief here in 2003 after serving as chief in San Jose and Richmond.

Lansdowne talked recently for an hour with Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer but said that Faulconer did not request his resignation. Faulconer will be sworn in Monday.

The San Diego department, with 1,856 sworn officers, has long been considered one of the nation's best, particularly in the technique of community oriented policing in which police and residents meet frequently to discuss problems.

Acting Mayor Todd Gloria said that Lansdowne "has served San Diego exceptionally well," leaving the city with its lowest crime rate since the 1960s.

"I'm grateful for his tremendous contributions to San Diego," said Gloria, who called for a national search to find a successor.

Lansdowne said he is proud that he is leaving the department "in very good shape. We've got very good leadership and for the first time in 10 years we're going to be able to rebuild the department."

Nearly 200 positions have been left vacant in recent years as the city has struggled with financial problems. A half-cent sales tax that would have allowed the hiring of additional officers was rejected by voters.

Faulconer has promised to find money to fill vacant positions and also to keep officers from leaving for better-paying police departments.

"The decision to resign was the chief's and the chief's alone," Faulconer said. "I learned Monday night."

Lansdowne said the recent controversy over two officers accused of sexually assaulting women while on duty played no role in his decision.

Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Assn., said that Lansdowne "navigated our department through both challenges and triumphs. He served our community proudly and the Police Officers Assn. is grateful for his service."

Lansdowne said he and his wife plan to remain in northern San Diego County. Lansdowne has one son who is a lieutenant with the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Department and another who is a golf pro in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lansdowne grew up in San Lorenzo, a blue-collar city near Oakland. Most of his early career was spent with the San Jose Police Department. He graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in law enforcement.

In an official statement, the Police Department said that "this was a difficult decision for Chief Lansdowne to make as he considers San Diego his home and truly values the citizens of this city and the employees who work here." 

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