San Diego police chief nominee Shelley Zimmerman only has four years of city employment remaining because she enrolled in a deferred retirement plan, pension system officials revealed Thursday.

Zimmerman entered the so-called DROP program on March 2 of last year, and will have to leave March 1, 2018, according to the San Diego City Employees Retirement System. Her retirement status was first reported by the San Diego Reader.

San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman. Official photo.

Currently an assistant chief, Zimmerman was selected Wednesday by Mayor- elect Kevin Faulconer to replace the retiring William Lansdowne.

Lansdowne, who is stepping down Monday after 10 1/2 years in the post, called Zimmerman the best officer to succeed him. She’ll be the first woman to lead the department after she is confirmed next week by the City Council, where she enjoys widespread support.

Faulconer knew of Zimmerman’s DROP enrollment when he nominated her.

“I picked Shelley Zimmerman to be our next police chief because our department needs immediate leadership,” Faulconer said in a statement. “I am confident she will do a fantastic job over the next four years, and take action to ensure public confidence and trust in the police department for years to come.”

Zimmerman is expected to be confirmed next week by the City Council, where she enjoys widespread support.

The DROP program was designed to benefit experienced workers by allowing them to collect pension payments in their final five years — in an account that they couldn’t touch until they left city employment. It was supposed to be revenue-neutral, but ended up costing the city a little more than it saved.

Only employees hired before 2005 remain eligible for DROP. Zimmerman is a 31-year SDPD veteran.

According to SDCERS, 984 employees were enrolled in DROP as of June 30 of last year.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.