Updated: Jan 19, 2022
Current Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn is retiring, he has served as the Chief for 4 years, and he is the only Black man to have occupied the role. Notably, Hahn served as Chief in the wake of the murder of Stephon Clark, when the SPD arrested 84 folx who were demonstrating against the D.A.'s decision not to file charges against the 2 officers that murdered Stephon Clark.
*Daniel Hahn pictured
Kathy Lester, a 27 year veteran of SPD has been chosen as the next SPD Chief. Before being promoted to Police Chief she was serving as the Deputy Chief of Operations.
*Kathy Lester pictured
It is important to note the lack of transparency the city provided during the hiring process - the only form of community engagement available was the short survey discussed in our previous article on this issue. The survey was very broad, it included the ability to pick seven characteristics you’d like to see in the next police chief, a section for comments about characteristics, and a section asking what the “biggest community challenge” will be for the next chief. Pretty vague.
The city has said that they received approximately 1,700 responses to the survey, but they have not provided any official stats or findings. The Sacramento Police Review Commission (PRC) has requested for the City Manager to present to them the results of the survey, but so far they have not heard back. The PRC was also not consulted during the hiring process of Kathy Lester, despite the fact that they have purview over this according to their charter.
Kathy Lester has served in leadership roles throughout her time in the SPD, according to this KCRA article:
...leader in divisions that deal with contracts, personnel, outreach and police services for the Sacramento City Unified School District.
Among Lester’s accomplishments, according to the city, are that she established a pipeline hiring program to increase diversity, started a full-time mental health team and carried out gender-awareness training for all officers.
It is important to recognize that all this time, while she has been serving in leadership positions, and supposedly pushing progressive programs, the SPD has been found to be engaging in violent and racist policies that disproportionately impact black and brown folx.
You can find examples of these policies in this report from the Center for Policing Equity. One such example can be found below:
So is she a champion for social justice? Has the SPD been shown to be becoming LESS problematic recently? We’re not holding our breath for change.