San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman answered residents' questions about the medical marijuana law and the homeless, among other topics, at the May 7 San Carlos Area Council meeting.
John Pilch, council vice president, said that the city council approved the medical marijuana ordinance and "we've got to face" that. He asked how the police and code-enforcement departments will "gear up."
Zimmerman said, "There's a reason I play craps, not poker" and wouldn't answer because the issue "is working its way through" the development of policy. She added, "They better adhere to the policy, and it's against federal law."
Pilch asked if the police department was working with city attorney Jan Goldsmith about "illegal" dispensaries.
Zimmerman said, "I worked undercover narcotics four different times" during her San Diego police career. "All are illegal right now. As soon as dispensaries were shut down," they reopened.
Zimmerman then spoke about Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which California voters approved in 1996. "I believe there are thousands of people growing it in their homes. That's what it was for. Growing a few plants, getting relief," she said.
The chief referred to the robberies and burglaries at dispensaries, incidents that included the fatal shooting last month at a North Park dispensary.
Zimmerman also spoke about complaints filed against dispensaries — such as people smoking in the strip malls where dispensaries are located. When people were "smoking, it goes in the vents."
She advised residents, "You need to go down and voice concerns. We respond to community concerns and complaints" just as the city does with those related to liquor stores.
Next, a woman said she was "not unsympathetic" to the homeless and carried power bars in her car to give away. However, she saw "homeless on the street corners almost everywhere in the city."
Zimmerman said, "I hear that at every single community meeting." The chief said people spoke about homeless people living in canyons, and that she said she sees them while running at the beach at 5:30 in the morning.
"It’s not against the law to be homeless," Zimmerman said. "We need to do everything we can to get [them] housing."
She spoke about the city's Homeless Outreach Team and veterans' resources. "The resources are there; they have to want them," she said.
Before taking questions, Zimmerman described her vision as chief. "Imagine the possibilities if we could get even 1 percent in the city working together," she said.
Zimmerman said that she's been meeting residents at neighborhood forums. After the last of those meetings, she plans to hold "a huge town hall, [and] have everyone talk to each other."
With a goal to "help police and each other, we will all work together: the police department, mayor, council, [and] our wonderful communities. We'll all be America's finest."