Fremont's first female police chief announced Thursday that she plans to retire later this year, capping a career with the police department of the Bay Area's fourth largest city that has spanned more than 25 years.
Kimberly Petersen said she will retire this fall. Upon her announcement, City Manager Mark Danaj promoted Fremont Police Capt. Sean Washington to succeed Petersen as the next police chief.
"I am profoundly grateful for Chief Petersen's pioneering leadership during one of the most pivotal times in our nation's history," Danaj said. "Her commitment to excellence, accountability, and transparency in policing is beyond compare; the Fremont community has benefited enormously from her progressive ideals. I am also very proud of the strong organization Chief Petersen leaves behind in the Fremont Police Department, which is well positioned to build on her legacy."
“We are all thankful that Chief Petersen has provided such generous notice, which will allow ample time for a smooth transition of leadership," Danaj added.
Petersen is the first female police chief to serve Fremont since the city incorporated in 1956.
Petersen began her law enforcement career with Fremont in 1996, quickly rising through the ranks to reach the historic milestone of being appointed as the city's first female police chief in July 2018.
During her 25 years with Fremont, Petersen broke gender barriers by becoming the city's first female member of its SWAT team, where she served in multiple capacities, including team leader for seven years. She is also known for developing the Fremont Police Department's Tactical Emergency Medical Support team in partnership with the Fremont Fire Department, becoming an expert in tactical medicine and advancing the city's ability to render immediate life-saving care in an expeditious manner during critical incidents.
Since implementing that program, Petersen has served on several committees for the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and the state Emergency Medical Service Authority, designed to help develop state guidelines and advance training standards in this field.
During the last year, Petersen led her department through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining a high level of service to the city of nearly 250,000 residents.
Last year, following the tragic death of George Floyd, Petersen immediately denounced his death and held a virtual town hall meeting that was attended by more than 800 people. This was followed by her "Engage Fremont" program, a series of community engagement dialogues to discuss policing and race.
"It has been an honor to work alongside the men and women of the Fremont Police Department," Petersen said. "Coming here for the last 25 years never felt like work because it was such a joy to be part of this team, and because the work is so meaningful. I will truly miss the people. I look forward to watching the department continue to advance its culture of professionalism and adaptability. I will especially miss the community events like Coffee with a Cop and the Community Academy. I know the residents of Fremont and the department will be in great hands under the leadership of Sean Washington."
Petersen will retire Oct. 1, and she is committed to seeing the department through the upcoming leadership transition. She will spend the next couple of years focusing on her family and looks forward to spending more time with her three children.
Washington joined the Fremont Police Department in 1997. During the next 24 years, he has served as a detective, field training officer, SWAT team member, arrest control instructor and driving instructor. In 2007, he was promoted to sergeant, then lieutenant in 2011. He became captain in 2015. Washington currently oversees investigations, internal affairs, training and personnel. For the last six years, he rotated as commander of the department's three divisions.