Les Simmons says he walked into Sacramento City Hall Monday night, looking to help.
Out of 58 people nominated, he was one of 11 selected to serve on the city’s new commission meant to mend divisions between Sacramento police officers and the communities they serve.
“There are some real hurts. Some real moments that need to be acknowledged, and some healing that needs to happen,” Simmons said.
When he walked out of City Hall, Simmons was the new chairman of that commission, voted in by the other board members.
The Community Police Commission is comprised of a group of citizens, empowered to examine and critique the Sacramento Police Department’s efforts to work within communities of color.
“That’s the mission. That’s what our assignment is. So we’ll definitely be listening to what our community is saying and then working to create a solution with them to build this trust,” Simmons said.
Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers was unable to make the first meeting of the commission but sent word that he would attend the January meeting. And he sent Deputy Chief Ken Bernard in his stead.
“I can tell you this is an extraordinary, professional department, and we welcome it,” Bernard said of the commission’s goal.
For more than a decade, the city of Sacramento had a commission on racial profiling. But the city leaders say very few people were showing up for it anymore because of its limited scope; that it was tasked with only looking at traffic stops.
“We had a racial profiling commission that had become stale, and it was very polarizing with the community,” Bernard said.
Both police and the board members say this new commission will be taking an internal look at police procedure but will also be reaching out externally to disaffected citizens of Sacramento and trying to bring them back into the fold.