SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn will retire at the end of the year, he announced Wednesday.
Hahn, who grew up in Oak Park, became police chief in 2017 and had been with the Sacramento Police Department for over 20 years before that.
He became police chief in Sacramento after serving as Roseville’s police chief for six years.
Hahn presided over the department during some tumultuous times, including the aftermath of the 2018 officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark and the unrest in the streets following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Law enforcement needs to evolve,” Hahn told FOX40 in 2017. “Our country has evolved, the circumstances have evolved and we need to evolve with that, and part of that is transparency. We’re public officials, we wear a uniform, name tags and badge numbers, and so, the community has a right to know what their police department does and I think the transparency piece goes right along with that.”
“He has been an exemplary police chief,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Steinberg has high praise for Chief Hahn and how he has handled a difficult job.
“He has maintained the strong support of the community,” Steinberg told FOX40. “He has the support and respect of the department and the rank and file. And at the same time, he has pushed Sacramento and our police department towards needed change.”
Those changes included the addition of police body cameras and the release of the video to the public.
Hahn also worked with the city to adopt a new policy limiting the use of deadly force.
“To be a police chief of a modern city during this era where you get it from all sides, and have to just do what you think is right to both support your officers, to maintain your connection with the community and also to push for change that is needed, that is a very difficult balance. He has done it very very well,” Steinberg explained.
Community activist Berry Accius has been one of Hahn’s most vocal critics, saying it’s hurtful to many in the community that the officers who shot Stephon Clark were cleared of wrongdoing by the district attorney and then allowed to continue working for Hahn’s department.
“If you’re going to talk about body cameras, foot pursuit policies and things of that nature, it was because we pushed the issue,” Accius said.“There’s going to be a lot of folks that are going to praise and say things that he made great strides, but we’re still in the same position.”
Accius says Hahn is leaving at a time when many in the community still don’t trust the police, and there is much room for increased transparency, accountability and consequences within the department.
“I’m hoping that it’s nothing health-wise and nothing that’s happened to his family. I definitely wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” Accius told FOX40. “But if it was just ‘I was exhausted. I feel like this is too much pressure,’ I think that it was a cowardly act to leave right now.”
Soon, the attention will turn to a possible successor.
“I don’t think we want to reverse course,” Steinberg said. “I think we want to look for a chief in this city who is respected in the profession, has the confidence to be able to lead, but is willing to push for change where it is needed.”
“And if you come into the mentality of people first, then you’re going to be able to change the things that are happening with policing,” Accius explained.
Chief Hahn has yet to announce his future plans.
“There’s always another chapter in life,” Steinberg said. “I hope it’ll be another chapter of some kind of public service for him.”
Chief Hahn will be sitting down for interviews Thursday to discuss his retirement.
The family of Stephon Clark released the following statements following Hahn’s announcement:
I don’t know how to feel hearing the chief’s announcement to retire. My inner spirit’s alarm is going off. Why today? The day after Stephon’s birthday? My son was supposed to be celebrating his 26th birthday, instead he’s dead.
My faith wants me to believe the chief is doing right by my family and stepping down because he knows he failed the Clark Family, our underrepresented communities, and our entire city when he chose not to fire officer Mercadel and Robinet.
I chose to forgive the chief a couple of years ago and asked for his forgiveness as well; in an attempt to truly bridge the gap between law enforcement and underserved communities. So, I can only pray that God’s good and perfect will be done in Daniel Hahn’s life and the professional decisions he makes before leaving office.Sequette Clark, mother of Stephon Clark
True leaders uphold accountability and delegate responsibility. The city of Sacramento deserves a chief that is for the people and not politics or power. Stephon Clark; The Unarmed Truth deserves justice. The city manager, the chief of police, the district attorney, and the attorney general have all failed on not some levels but all levels.
Hopefully, whoever replaces him will do what’s right and deliver the justice that is needed. The Sacramento Police Department and all of it’s field officers should be able to differentiate between a gun and a cell phone. Anytime someone makes a mistake to the degree that a law must be created; those people should be held accountable to the highest extent of the law.Stevonte Clark, brother of Stephon Clark