SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An effort to improve race relations in Sacramento may be showing progress, after two big announcements.
The Sacramento Police Department is getting its first black police chief, and one of the officers who shot and killed a mentally-ill black man last year could be losing his job.
“A lot of times I believe cops have the sentiment that African-American males are guilty until proven innocent,” said Lamonte Love.
Love is one of many who believes police don’t protect and serve the African-American community.
“I think the first thought is, that’s an enemy,” said Love.
Although Love comes from a family of law enforcement officers, he says his fear of the police is very much real. CBS13 asked Love if he thought the addition of a new black police chief and the recommendation to fire the officer who shot and killed Joseph Mann last year would help ease tensions among the African-American community.
“Until we really start getting justice for the public, for the African-American community, when things are clearly documented, just being fired is not sufficient,” replied love.
Sacramento’s new police chief, Daniel Hahn, agrees the firing of a police officer isn’t enough to bridge the gap.
“You don’t start creating trust after some critical incident, you have had to have built that over time,” said Hahn
Chief Hahn is no stranger to the tensions between the African-American community and police; he grew up in Oak Park. The chief says the first step in building that community trust is community policing.
“It’s not a unit, it’s a way of doing business,” said Hahn.
That’s top of mind for the chief; he says he also plans to ramp up staffing levels to make more police officers available to interact with the community.
“It gives them a voice; we are their police department,” Hahn added.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg also weighed in on the chief’s new position, saying “he understands the communities he will be serving, I think it will increase confidence.”
The mayor also says Hahn will keep the police department transparent, another key to building and keeping trust in the community.
“That’s the job, to always be fair and to take these situations right down the middle,” said Steinberg.
Hahn is expected to start his new position as Sacramento Police Chief sometime by the end of summer.