Valor, Honor and Camaraderie
As residents of 92131, we have the privilege of living in a safe community thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Northeastern Division of the San Diego Police Department. With eighty-three sworn officers – including volunteers and reserve officers – the division covers not only 92131 but also Carmel Mountain, Miramar, Miramar Ranch North, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Encantada, Rancho Peñasquitos, Sabre Springs, and San Pasqual. Read along as we talk with Captain Dawn Summers and Lieutenant Jeffrey Peterson about the history of the division, challenges, and community outreach that help them serve so effectively here in 92131.
Q&A with Captain Dawn Summers
How long has the Northeastern Division police station been in operation, and what kinds of changes have occurred since it opened?
Northeastern Division was officially opened in 1988. At that time, the population was significantly smaller as it was in most of the city. Today, Northeastern Division serves ten communities with a population of 234,000. This translates to increased vehicle traffic, commercial development, and community concerns. All of these demands require our police department to partner with as many community groups as possible in order to ensure the best possible service to the ever-growing population.
Please explain what areas the Northeastern Division services.
Northeastern currently services ten different communities: Carmel Mountain, Miramar, Miramar Ranch North, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Encantada, Rancho Peñasquitos, Sabre Springs, San Pasqual, and Scripps Ranch.
What is your role within the Northeastern Division?
As the captain of the Northeastern Division my priorities are to ensure operational readiness and the efficient and appropriate delivery of police services to the communities we serve. This includes selecting and staffing personnel to specific assignments such as patrol, investigations, juvenile services, and community relations. I represent the Northeastern Division at all Department Command staff meetings and ensure our efforts are in line with the goals of the organization. Although the concerns and criminal activity that influences our efforts may be somewhat different from one community or division to the next, our department goal of providing the best possible service with the utmost integrity is consistent throughout our department.
What is your professional background, and how did it lead you to your current position?
I came to the Northeastern Division with thirty-one years of police experience. Prior to coming to San Diego, I earned a degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Texas, as well as played basketball for four years on athletic and scholastic scholarships. I have worked a variety of assignments for the department, starting my career working undercover in a high school narcotics operation. I worked patrol and special assignments in all the patrol divisions before taking a position at the Police Academy. I was then promoted to sergeant working at several commands for the next fifteen years. I was a bike team sergeant, staff sergeant, investigative sergeant and mounted unit sergeant. When I was promoted to lieutenant, I worked Juvenile Administration, Northeastern Division (during the 2007 Fire Storm), Central Division, Eastern Division, Vice, and Operational Support/Critical Incident Management Unit.
This year, I was asked to transfer to Northwestern Division as an acting captain, and to continue my work on the department’s Body Camera Project in which the department has rolled out almost 300 cameras. I was then asked to transfer to Northeastern Division as the acting captain. On Aug. 2, 2014, I was promoted to the rank of captain and asked to stay on at Northeastern Division. I have been a Police Academy Instructor (Defensive Tactics and Defensive Driving) for over twenty-eight years and continue to train officers for the field. I have a Lifetime Teaching Credential in Police Sciences. I have received an Exceptional Performance Citation and twenty Commanding Officer citations from the Police Department. When asked what I believe is the most important thing about being a captain, I have to say mentoring and taking care of my people.
What is the most gratifying aspect, for you, of servicing the 92131 areas?
One of the most gratifying aspects of servicing these communities is working with the community members. The level of energy and commitment put forth by community representatives and volunteers is incredible. From all of the local Town Councils, Neighborhood Watch Groups, Volunteers in Policing, and Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol members, I am continually impressed and proud to be associated with these communities. Because of their commitment, Northeastern Division sets the standard of volunteerism and community partnership for the entire department.
What is a typical day for you like?
I am on call 24/7, so I spend a lot of time reviewing the activity of the division and city. I attend all the briefings throughout the week where I share pertinent information with the officers and investigators. This is one of the most enjoyable events of the day for me as it gives me an opportunity to hear from everyone and remind everyone of our Divisional and Department priorities as well as acknowledge the great work being done by the officers and investigators. I attend investigator and command staff meetings throughout the week both here at Northeastern and other commands. If there is a major incident in our area, like the recent Bernardo fire, I will respond to the incident and assume command for our Department. Although there are regularly scheduled meetings and events, every day is different due to the constant change in criminal activity, special events, personnel changes, and community meetings. The variety is what makes this job fun and keeps it interesting and challenging.
What challenges do you face in this particular region?
One of the biggest challenges is ensuring the efficient use of our resources. Of the nine SDPD Divisions, Northeastern has both the largest population and geographical area. This requires us to constantly evaluate where and when to deploy our resources. The large distances and traffic congestion can make it difficult to respond as timely as we would like. During this time of year, the fire danger is a major concern. Since coming back to Northeastern Division, I have been working with the Fire Department and our Critical Incident Management Unit to ensure our officers have the training and resources to assist in quickly knocking a fire down and managing orderly evacuations.
Do you have any advice for 92131 residents about ensuring their safety?
Both residential and commercial burglaries remain the Division’s largest concern. By not being an easy target – including securing our residences and vehicles – not leaving valuables in plain view, and working with our neighbors to establish strong ties and communication channels, we can deter many of these crimes from occurring. Car prowls are another concern and the same advice goes for this type of crime.
What are the most common types of calls this division responds to?
Northeastern officers respond to a variety of calls throughout their day. The officers and investigators have done a great job making arrests for burglaries and car prowls. Since there are so many people living within this command, traffic accidents occur daily. Again, the officers do a great job educating the public about traffic laws.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The job of a police officer brings with it huge responsibility requiring compassion, humility, and at times, creativity to truly be successful. The most rewarding part of my job is the development of officers. Watching new officers gain confidence and experience then encouraging them to apply their knowledge creatively to solve community concerns and combat criminal activity is extremely rewarding.
It seems that the Northeastern Division has a fantastic outreach to the community. Was that intentional, and do you think it has improved crime statistics?
Northeastern Division does have an excellent relationship with the communities we serve. Since the division opened in 1988, the communities have understood the importance of forming a partnership with the police and vice versa. The RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol) is an excellent example of community support. In fact, Rancho Bernardo was the first community in the city to form a RSVP. Because of our size, Northeastern has three RSVP teams including Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Mesa, and Diamond Gateway (Rancho Peñasquitos and Carmel Mountain) with a total of 100 members. We also have Volunteers in Policing (VIPs) who assist us with a variety of administrative tasks including follow-up investigations. All of our volunteers have proven invaluable to the department.
Please tell us about the RSVP and VIP programs.
Every division in the City now has a RSVP program. Qualifications to join are age 50 and over, retired or semi-retired, a commitment to work three patrols per month and the successful completion of the RSVP academy. RSVP members assist with vacation house checks, YANA (You Are Not Alone) checks of community members in need, and other duties such as fingerprinting and public relations. They are essential additional eyes and ears for our department.
Please tell us about the different locations of the Northeastern Division and what they have to offer.
As you can imagine, an area as large as Northeastern Division has numerous points of interest and activities to offer the community. Miramar Lake in Scripps Ranch offers seasonal fishing and boating as well as hiking and bike trails. Between Mira Mesa and Rancho Peñasquitos is the Peñasquitos Preserve which is well known for its miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. For those living further north, the Rancho Bernardo Community Park and surrounding areas, including Lake Hodges, also offers great hiking, mountain biking, and family activities. Additionally, there are movie theaters and shopping centers including great restaurants throughout the entire division.
Name: Dawn M. Summers
Community of Residence: Live in the command
Education: BA in Criminal Justice, Lifetime Teaching Credential in Police Sciences
Hobbies/Interests: Though I like all sports, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends with an
occasional golf game.
Q&A with Lieutenant Jeffrey Peterson
As lieutenant of this division, what is your role?
I see my job in several ways. First, I gather information on a variety of topics and issues so that I can provide that to Captain Summers. This is necessary in order for her to make well-informed decisions on staffing, personnel issues, and the implementation of department goals and objectives.
I am responsible for directly supervising three patrol sergeants and two investigative sergeants. I receive daily updates from the sergeants on crime trends, personnel and staffing, and ongoing criminal investigations. In conjunction with the captain and the other divisional lieutenant, we are tasked with developing long-term and short-term goals for the division.
On a daily basis I am speaking with officers, detectives, and supervisors to determine if they are being provided all of the necessary tools to do their jobs the best that they can. If not, I see it as my responsibility to figure out how to try and obtain what is needed whether it be training or equipment.
My other job duties include attending community meetings, representing the department and division at community events, and being available 24/7 to respond to specific event call-outs.
What was your professional background, and how did it lead you to your current position?
I am a forty-year resident of San Diego. After graduating from UC San Diego, I went to work as an underwriter for Farmers Insurance at their regional office in Carlsbad. While I was there I met a good friend whose husband was an Escondido police officer. After a few ride-alongs I was hooked. I graduated from the Police Academy in 1995, having won the Academic Achievement award. I spent the next eleven years working patrol at Western Division and Eastern Division. I was a field training officer for six years (some of the most difficult and most rewarding years of my life). During this time I began teaching drug influence classes to officers from our department. I taught the class I developed to over 1,000 officers over the next fourteen years. In 2004, I was promoted to sergeant and was assigned to work Northeastern Division. I spent the next three years at Northeastern before Assistant Chief Boyd Long assigned me to work on a special project involving the developing of the Centralized Telephone Report Unit at Northwestern Division. I worked on that project for the next ten months and then became the investigative sergeant at Northwestern Division. After a couple of months, I was transferred to Internal Affairs where I spent the next four years. The period of time I spent at Internal Affairs prepared me for my promotion to lieutenant on Aug. 2, 2014. I returned to Northeastern Division with twenty years of experience working for the San Diego Police Department.
What is a typical day for you?
My day typically starts with briefings from the patrol and investigative sergeants regarding events from the previous night or what occurred over the weekend. Once that is done, I will often sit down and read the police reports directly related to those briefings.
I will also have conversations with the patrol officers to see how they are doing, what is working well and not so well in the division, and what I can do to help them do their jobs to maximum effectiveness. This is the best part of my day.
Next, I will tackle the administrative part of my job which includes such tasks as writing and reviewing evaluations, conducting inspections, and handling all the paperwork that goes along with efficiently and effectively running the division.
I usually meet with the captain and other lieutenant several times throughout the day to discuss ongoing issues or items of interest that have come up during that particular day.
My calendar really determines where the rest of my day goes. I have regularly scheduled meetings and briefings to attend, but that changes regularly based on special events, crime trends, and personnel. On those occasions where I have free time, I enjoy getting in my car and answering radio calls.
The joy of police work is that no two days are the same. This is one of the reasons I came to work here and one of the reasons why I enjoy my job so much. When unpredictable events such as the recent Bernardo Fire take place, the challenge is dealing with the large-scale disaster while still responding to the calls that we do on a daily basis.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
From within the department, it’s being involved in the development of officers. Whether that’s my personal involvement in teaching, training or mentoring, or just watching them take what they learn over several years and put that to use solving problems within the communities they work. Law enforcement is a difficult job and it requires several years of on-the-job training before officers truly understand the nuances of their career. The joy is watching the “light come on” as the officers figure out how to handle each of the difficult situations they come upon on a daily basis.
The other rewarding part of my job comes from working with communities whose members are willing to participate in helping to solve their own crime issues. This can be on both a large and small scale. For example, when I was assigned to Northeastern Division as a brand new sergeant eight years ago, I learned that a particular community was having a tremendous issue with vehicle burglaries. A community member and I then went about placing over 4,000 flyers containing crime prevention tips on vehicles and at residences over the next several months. The community as a whole responded very positively and their willingness to follow the tips on the flyers led to a more than 50% reduction in vehicle burglaries. Helping communities to take a greater role in helping stem the tide of crime is a very exciting and rewarding part of law enforcement.
Name: Jeffrey P. Peterson
Community of Residence: 92122 (University City)
Education: BA in Economics from the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) with
minors in U.S. History and Computer Science
Family: Married for 16 years; two children (daughter age 12, and son age 10)
Hobbies/Interests: Being a part of any activities my children are involved in.
Q&A with SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman
What Scripps Ranch community do you reside in? How long have you lived there?
I have lived in the Scripps Range Huntington area for eighteen years.
What do you enjoy most about living in Scripps Ranch?
I love the neighborhood atmosphere of our entire community. I also especially like the hills to train on while riding my bicycle and running around Miramar Lake. I really enjoyed playing basketball at the women’s basketball league in Scripps Ranch. Unfortunately, I can’t play as much as I would like because they keep me busy as Chief of Police. I also really enjoy all the 4th of July festivities starting with the run in the morning.
Can you tell us about your career and background? When were you promoted and what steps did it take to get here?
I was promoted to Chief of Police on March 4, 2014, and was hired on Oct. 21, 1982 by the San Diego Police Department. I was born in Cleveland, OH and am a graduate of Ohio State University, with a degree in Criminal Justice. I am also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, FBINA #241.
I have worked many of the San Diego Police Department’s patrol commands. I also have extensive investigative experience. Some of my prior assignments have included Vice, Narcotics, Internal Affairs, Multi-Cultural Community Relations Office, the Mayor’s Executive Protection Detail, the Narcotics Task Force and the Field Lieutenant position.
I have assisted in the security planning for several large events in San Diego such as the Super Bowl, Republican National Convention, major conferences and the 4th of July Independence Day holiday at the beach, where more than one million locals and visitors alike come to enjoy each year.
I have received numerous awards and citations throughout my career which have included the San Diego Press Club Headliner of the Year Award for my undercover work, the San Diego Business Journal’s Woman Who Mean Business Exemplary Award for my civic involvement with both the business and residential communities, the San Diego Police Foundation Women in Blue Award for my commitment to making San Diego one of the safest large cities in the United States, and the Gold Key Award from the Hotel/Motel Association for my commitment to the Hospitality and Tourism Industry.
My previous assignment was the Neighborhood Policing section which includes the Regional Police Academy, Backgrounds, In-Service and Field Training, Juvenile Administration, the Police Range, Volunteer Services, Information Services, Communications, Crime Analysis, and Human Resources. I was also the department’s liaison with the Gang Commission, STAR-PAL, the San Diego Police Foundation, Crime Stoppers, Labor Relations, the Hotel/Motel Association, and the Chief’s Community Advisory Boards.
I am an avid sports fan and often participate in athletic charity fundraisers.
What are your ultimate goals for the future of the SDPD?
The biggest challenges we are currently facing as a police department are recruitment and retention. Currently more than half of our officers working patrol have six or fewer years on our department and at some of our commands that number is closer to seventy percent. We also have 400 officers who as of today are eligible to retire. Therefore, we must continue to recruit the very best candidates in a competitive market for police officers while retaining our experienced officers to help mentor and train our next generation of police officers. I am very grateful to Mayor Faulconer and the City Council for placing in the budget the funding to the hire 172 police officers this fiscal year. Also included in this budget are several critically important Civilian positions which include our Communication and Crime Lab Divisions.
How can residents/citizens become more involved or assist with the SDPD?
We are using our community policing efforts as a force multiplier to assist our efforts to reduce both violent and property crime and quality of life issues. We continue to encourage the public to get involved with their police department in a number of ways, which include volunteering as a Retired Senior Volunteer, Volunteers in Policing, or Crisis Interventionists.
Last year our volunteers donated more than 193,000 hours at their police department which allowed our personnel the ability to respond to other police related duties. We also encourage participation in Neighborhood Watch and www.nextdoor.com. For those who wish to remain anonymous to report suspect information, there is Crimestoppers. We also encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter
@SanDiegoPD and on our Facebook page.
These are just a few of the numerous ways to get involved to help assist us in making San Diego the safest large city in the United States, where we can all live, work, play, and raise our families in harmony and in safety.
Name: Shelley Zimmerman
Professional Title: Chief of Police
Community of Residence: Fieldstone Huntington since 1995
Education: BA from Ohio State University in Criminology and Criminal Justice
Hobbies/Interests: Triathlons and music. I am a huge Ohio State fan and have completely forgiven LeBron James now that he has returned home and will again play for the Cleveland Cavaliers
Favorite Local Spot in 92131: Miramar Lake
Northeastern Division At-A-Glance
Name of Police Division: Northeastern Division
Address: 13396 Salmon River Rd., San Diego, CA 92129
Northeastern Division by the Numbers
Population Served 234,000
Square Miles Covered Just under 104 square miles
Neighborhoods Encompassed 10
Sworn Officers Currently 83
(with 5 volunteers: 3 reserve officers and 2 VIPs –this is in addition to the 100 RSVPs)
Civilian Positions 1 Senior Clerical