Sacramento Police Chief details progress toward greater transparency at Huffington Post event

The reason I came home was to change this dynamic that we’re talking about,” said Police Chief Daniel Hahn.

In an evening marked by its audience engagement and civil tone, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn answered questions about the ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, new state laws regarding police transparency and the challenges of responding to calls involving mental illness.

Hahn was part of a panel discussion held at the Sacramento Public Library on Oct. 8 and sponsored by the Huffington Post and The Sacramento Bee.

Other panelists at the “Transparency and Justice” event included Francine Tournour, Director of the Office of Public Safety Accountability for the City, Anita Ross, Founder of Women of Equality, and Basim Elkarra, Director of the Sacramento Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations who also sits on Sacramento’s Community Police Review Commission. Bee columnist Erika Smith moderated the discussion.

Responding to a question about Clark, Hahn said he expected the Sacramento Police Department’s investigation into the officer-involved shooting to be completed “relatively soon.”  The investigation then will go to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office for review. Meanwhile, he said, the State Attorney General also is independently investigating and reviewing the shooting.

Citing the police department’s commitment to transparency, Hahn pointed out that Sacramento has been releasing police audio and video of “critical events” faster than new state law requires.

A Sacramento City ordinance requires the release within 30 days as long as it does not impede or hamper an ongoing investigation. The newly passed AB 748 requires the release in 45 days. Also setting itself apart from other cities, Sacramento currently has all of its officers wearing body cameras, Hahn said.

Hahn said his department has made increasing trust a priority.

“The reason I came home was to change this dynamic that we’re talking about, the lack of trust between police and certain segments of the community,” said Hahn, who grew up in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood and left his position as Roseville’s Chief of Police in 2017 to oversee Sacramento’s department.

Toward the end of the event, Tournour said that no conversation about transparency and accountability should be had without acknowledging the issue of mental health, which she said is “quite often the common denominator.”

Hahn said the Sacramento Police Department currently is hiring a full-time social worker to assist officers with calls related to mental illness.