In 1994, a new challenge presented itself. Chief Lansdowne left San Jose to head the police department in Richmond, CA, a diverse community of 93,000. He reorganized the department and its priorities, placing new emphasis on community policing and implementing violence reduction and truancy programs. During his five years in Richmond, homicides dropped by 50% and department overtime was reduced by $800,000 in just two years.
In August 1998, Chief Lansdowne returned to San Jose as that city's "top cop." He continued to emphasize community involvement, holding his department open to public scrutiny. While he was chief, San Jose became nationally recognized as the safest large city in America.
Over the years, Chief Lansdowne expanded his expertise and his reputation as one of the foremost law enforcement professionals in the country. He was a graduate of the FBI National Academy and served on a variety of state and national boards, including the Major Cities Chiefs and the National Conference for Community and Justice. When Chief Lansdowne arrived in San Diego he quickly went to work revamping the department. Despite severe budget challenges, the chief still managed to completely replace the patrol fleet with some of the most modern police cars available. He also found a way to replace the air wing with four highly advanced police helicopters. Lansdowne added his personal touch to how his officers look when he adjusted the uniform specifications manual to allow patrol officers more flexibility in what they wear while still looking exceptionally professional. To ensure his command staff looked their best, the chief reintroduced hats and dress coats to those who hold the rank of captain and above. Chief Lansdowne graduated from San Jose State University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration.
He was sworn in as San Diego's Chief of Police on August 4, 2003. As the top cop he is responsible for protecting a population of 1.3 million people and the seventh largest city in the United States – the second largest city in California.
Chief Lansdowne rose steadily through the ranks at SJPD, commanding a variety of units and divisions - and developing a reputation as a person who truly cared about his officers and the community they policed. He was accessible and he was not afraid to make decisions. Those skills eventually elevated him to the position of Assistant Chief.
CHIEF WILLIAM M. LANSDOWNE
08/25/2003 - 03/03/2014
A seemingly tireless leader, Chief Lansdowne routinely arrived at work at 5:30 am to meet with the overnight Watch Commander for a briefing. Almost daily the chief made it a point to visit different places within the department to meet the employees first hand. As a matter of routine the chief donned a uniform and drove a black and white on a beat every Christmas so a police officer can have the night off to spend with his or her family. The chief had been a very good friend to the San Diego Police Museum and served as the chair of the associations annual Legends Behind the Badge Gala since its inception.
Chief Lansdowne is married to Sharon, a former San Jose police officer. He has two sons by a prior marriage: Greg, a Santa Cruz sheriff's deputy, and Erik, who works in sales in Mountain View. Sharon has a son by a prior marriage: Mike Young, a computer engineer, who lives in Fairfield. The Lansdowne’s enjoy spending quality time with their young grandchildren - Cassandra and William. On Sundays the chief was often found behind the wheel of his classic Corvette enjoying the open road.
On February 25, 2014, Chief Lansdowne announced his retirement from the San Diego Police Department. His service of ten years and six months was the 3rd longest chiefs tenure in department history and by far the longest length of service for an outsider to serve as chief of the SDPD.
To see Chief Lansdowne's 2003 swearing in