SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, who started his career in San Jose and served as the city's respected chief from 1998 to 2003, announced his resignation Tuesday after sexual misconduct allegations surfaced involving his officers.

Lansdowne, an Oakland native who rose through the ranks at the San Jose Police Department starting in 1966, took the top post in San Diego after leaving San Jose. He said he will resign effective Monday, according to a statement from San Diego police.

That coincides with the swearing in of new San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

"Although Mayor Elect Kevin Faulconer did not ask for the police chief to resign, Chief Lansdowne felt it was time to do so," reads the police statement. "The chief absolutely supports the new mayor and believes in his vision and direction for the city."

Last week, one officer resigned after being charged with sexually assaulting four women in his patrol car, and an investigation was launched against another officer alleged to have touched and exposed himself to a woman he arrested.

On Wednesday, Lansdowne said two officers will now transport any female arrestees.

Jim Unland, president of San Jose's police union, called Lansdowne a "class act" and said he doesn't believe the resignation is a direct result of the sex assault cases.

"It's a natural transition time for him to leave," Unland said. "I don't put those cases at the chief's feet. If there's some type of endemic organizational misconduct, that's rightfully put there, but realistically it sounds like these cases are individuals' misconduct. I don't put this one on him."


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Lansdowne, 69, graduated from San Jose State University's criminal justice program in 1973. He had already started his law enforcement career with San Jose in 1966, simultaneously serving with the California National Guard.

He left San Jose to serve as chief in Richmond from 1994 before returning to take the top spot in San Jose.

During his term, he was widely admired as an affable and charismatic leader with a reputation for being progressive, visionary and accessible. Possibly his greatest local controversy came shortly before he left, when an officer shot and killed a 25-year-old mother in her kitchen because he believed she was about to attack him with a meat cleaver that turned out to be a vegetable peeler with a six-inch blade -- a shooting that caused an uproar in the city's Vietnamese community.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.