Police Chief Caught Lying To Kill Cannabis Reform
Can’t really say that we were surprised to learn that a cop was lying, especially when it comes to weed, but there’s something especially satisfying about this story and how it came to light.
Shellie Zimmerman held the position of Chief of Police for the San Diego Police Department since 2014, but was recently forced into retirement due to rules regarding her retirement pension.
We say “forced” but Zimmerman walked away from the job as the top cop in the Whale’s Vagina with a $898,900 retirement fund. That fund grew at an average of $511 PER DAY during the final five years of her career. That’s pretty gross, but that’s not the story.
Last year, while still serving as Police Chief, Zimmerman toured San Diego telling every local politician, influencer, civic group, and even the San Diego City Council that medical marijuana and particularly cannabis dispensaries have no place in the city due to how much crime they generate.
The whole “What about the kiiiids?” or “dispensaries are dangerous” arguments, as toothless as they are, have always been the only points that anti-cannabis voices have been able to use, but they are almost always anecdotal – based on hearsay or one-off stories, rather than facts and stats.
That is why Chief Zimmerman got so much attention in 2017 – she had the stats to back up her claims about pot vs. public safety… or so she said.
Speaking before local lawmakers last year, Zimmerman cited a report claiming that in the prior 2.5 years, there had been 272 call-outs for police assistance with “burglaries, robberies, thefts, assaults and shootings, just to name a few”, all allegedly stemming from the mere existence of a cannabis dispensary nearby according to Chief Z.
“Some of you have said that public safety is also your No. 1 priority,” she ominously warned the City Council, adding, “I hope you do keep that in mind when you cast your vote today.”
Sure enough, San Diego has essentially been the laughing stock of the California cannabis industry for well over a decade based largely on ignorant conservative politics and overbearing law enforcement and Chief Zimmerman got paid very well to keep tossing fuel on that fire.
Since that testimony, city officials in Oceanside and Imperial Beach have specifically referenced Zimmerman’s scare tactics to slow the progress of cannabis normalization in those neighborhoods.
Here’s the problem – it was all based on bullshit.
Following Zimmerman’s tour of deceit, members of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access made a FOIA request for the public records that would either prove or shoot down Zimmerman’s crime stats.
Their first request was only partially fulfilled, so they made a demand for the reports behind the alleged 272 police calls cited by Zimmerman. Once they had the full batch of records it quickly became clear that the lady in charge of the law was operating in her own version of reality.
Once reviewed thoroughly it was discovered that over 25% of the calls the Chief mentioned were made regarding neighboring businesses and had nothing at all to do with the local dispensary.
One example involved a dispensary located in a popular business park. A woman fell in the parking lot and was having trouble breathing and 911 was called. The business address on the report led to a pain management clinic in the park where the dispensary was located, but the report was still listed as one of the 272 that Zimmerman was trotting out as evidence.
In another instance police received a call from a motorist who was reporting a drunk driver behind the wheel of a large truck. Police met with the motorist to get more details and the address of that brief meeting was then tied to a nearby dispensary and added to Zimmerman’s list.
You can see where this is going, right?
Dozens of calls from the list were easily determined to be prank calls from public payphones. Others were basic requests for a tow truck or roadside assistance. Car troubles are now the fault of the cannabis plant, according to Zimmerman.
One asshole called the cops on his local pot shop after they refused to let him bring his dog in the bud room.
In all, only 96 of the reports were even tangentially related to dispensaries, the vast majority of those being false alarms. Only two calls to dispensaries involved gunfire – one was a security guard who accidentally discharged his firearm and the other turned out to be a rock hitting a window.
You know, basically cartel-level violence blended with Soprano’s style crime… or not.
The good people at ASA put it all into perspective by applying Zimmerman’s convoluted look at dispensaries to a common Applebee’s restaurant. There are 2 Applebee’s in San Diego city limits and both are located in commercial complexes with many neighbors – like many dispensaries are.
Using Zimmerman’s … ummm… logic, Applebee’s had 214 calls to 911 in the same time period.
Alternatively, there are 6 BevMo locations within city limits – applying the blame game like the former Police Chief, BevMo was single handedly responsible for over 700 police call-outs in that timeframe.
Shut em down, right?
Thanks to the tireless effort of cannabis activists and advocates like the crew at ASA, Shellie Zimmerman has been proven beyond any doubt to be a complete fraud when it comes to cannabis. She might have gotten a nice fat retirement fund when she walked away from the police force, and she better invest it wisely as any hopes of speaking fees or consultation just went up in smoke.
The Freedom of Information Act can be a powerful tool in the hands of the people. This is a perfect example of how to use the tools that democracy gives us in order to hold those in authority accountable.