SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A deputy chief with 28 years of experience in the department has been named Sacramento’s new police chief.
“I feel very fortunate to take over this department at a time when we are going to be rebuilding this organization,” said Sam Somers.
Somers was named on Wednesday, replacing Rick Braziel, who retired at the end of last year after five year’s as the city’s top cop.
“You become a police officer and it’s fun and the next thing you know, one day you just keep moving up,” Somers told CBS13. “You get to a certain point in your career and you say, ‘Geez, if I were the boss, I would do this,” and that motivates you to test and to move on up.”
Somers joined the department as a community service officer in 1984 and worked his way up to deputy chief in 2006. He was familiar with what it took to be an officer years before joining the force; Somers’ father was a captain with the department.
“My dad did this job for many years, so I got to see him come home everyday and he enjoyed what he did, and he got a lot of recognition in the neighborhood because they all knew him,” said Somers.
Seeing the relationship his father had with the neighborhood is leading Somers to reintroduce a type of Problem Oriented Policing the department had to cut because of budget cuts.
“We are going to have that connection so those folks are going to know who their patrol officers are, just like they knew who their P.O.P. officers were,” said Somers.
In Del Paso Heights, the neighbors say this is a good way to prevent crime.
“If the kids are bonding with the police officers on the streets, as they get older they will have a relationship with the cops and the streets will be much safer,” said Julia Hunt.
However, the P.O.P. program will not return in full; but Somers hopes that placing patrol officers in certain areas will make neighbors more comfortable reporting crimes.
City Manager John Shirey announced Somers’ promotion at City Hall. He was one of four internal candidates.
“I believe that Sam Somers has the skills necessary to lead our large department,” said Shirey in a press release announcing the hire. “He is committed to finding new and innovative solutions to reducing crime in our city, building stronger relationships with residents and business persons, and to increasing diversity among the ranks of our department.”
Somers moves into the position at a time when the department is set to hire new officers, the first hiring spree since 2008. The city’s budget problems since that time forced dozens of officer layoffs.
“I want to assure our community that as we rebuild our agency that we are going to rebuild smarter and faster so that we can solve those crimes quicker,” said Somers.
Sacramento is expected to add dozens of officers by the end of the year after city voters passed Measure U last fall, a half-cent sales tax to help fund public safety service.
Somers is the city’s 44th police chief. He’ll assume the new position on Saturday and a swearing-in ceremony will be held Feb. 22. His salary will be $197,000.