Incoming SPD chief talks racial tension, transparency

Sacramento welcomes first American American police chief to the city.

The incoming Sacramento Police Chief has a tall order ahead of him.

It includes helping to smooth racial tensions in the community, boost officer morale and curb violence.

Sacramento is tapping current Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn for the job, which was left vacant since Chief Sam Somers retired late last year.

Pending a routine background check, Hahn could begin leading Sacramento PD as soon as summer.

"One of the best things for morale, for law enforcement in general, is a great relationship with the community and having a community that supports them a lot," Hahn said.

A feeling of being on the same team is something some argue is missing in Sacramento.

"Regardless of if that's true in every single situation, the fact that people believe that is a major problem, and so it's something that we have to address," Hahn said.

Hahn will step into a department facing strained relations with parts of the community.

Last July, two Sacramento police officers shot and killed Joseph Mann, after they say he threatened them with a knife. Mann was homeless, and his family said he was mentally ill. Recordings released raised questions about the officers' intentions. Black Lives Matter protestors gathered in support of Mann's family.

In January, the district attorney cleared the two officers of acting unlawfully.

What hasn't cleared is the racial tension. Incidentally, Hahn will become Sacramento's first African American police chief - just as he was in Roseville.

"The fact that I'm black will get me into some doors, but at the end of the day, if we're not a successful police department and we don't have a great relationship with the community, the fact that I'm black won't make any bit of difference," Hahn said.

Before he left for Roseville, Hahn served 23 years with the SPD, where he lead a number of divisions and rose through the ranks. He was then tapped to be Roseville's police chief in March 2011.

"We've done some unique things with issues surrounding homelessness and probably moreso with mental health," Hahn said.

It's an approach he hopes to implement with Sacramento's homeless population, as he steps into the new role.

"The most important thing is that I'm a successful police chief that helps guide a police department to successfully serve a community, and in this case, it's Sacramento," Hahn said.

Hahn and his wife have two pre-teen daughters. He coaches their summer track program RPM Legacy. This Sacramento native didn't always want to be a police officer.

"I'd love to tell you that I became a police officer at 19-years-old because I wanted to give back to the community and do all that, but it was $5 an hour more than I was making," Hahn said. "My goal was always to leave the police department after I got my degree in business from Sac State and start a business and become a teacher or something like that."

About 10 years into the job as a police officer, he had a realization.

"I was doing a lot of community things in the police department," including running the academy at Grad High School," Hahn said. "I realized that I could do community things as a police officer, and that's about the time I decided to stay."

As a teen, he once saw the other side of the law, too.

"I was arrested at 16 years old, while I was going to Sac High, in the living room of my home by Sacramento Police Department," Hahn recalled, "for what I believe was termed assault on an officer. I was never actually charged."

Still, he was handcuffed and taken to juvenile hall.

"My mom made me sit there for about four hours after they decided to drop the charges," Hahn said.

Hahn credits his mom for pushing him to achieve and be the best version of himself.

"I grew up with a single mom pretty much most of my life, but she was on me, and she was engaged and she was involved in everything I did," Hahn said. "My life is a example of what we can be as a society: being put up for adoption at birth and being adopted by my mom and all the things that my mom and the community have done for me."

Hahn is a Sacramento native and said it's, "very special to give back to the community that's given me so much." As far as being Sacramento's first black police chief, Hahn said the fact is not lost on him.

"There is a certain responsibility that I have and that I feel when I take on roles like this, because I don't want to let other people down," Hahn said, adding he wants to "ensure that people can see that anybody can do these jobs if they're dedicated enough."

At the same time, he said, "if the only thing that I'm known for when I retire is that I was the first African-American chief of the police department in Roseville or Sacramento, then I've failed."

He wants his legacy to be one of openness, transparency, improving community-police relations and making a positive impact on his city.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment