SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — FOX40 had an opportunity to sit down for the first time with new Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester.
The mass shooting with rival gang members on K Street three weeks ago that killed six people and injured a dozen others was the first catastrophic incident Lester had to handle since taking the helm as Chief of the Sacramento Police Department.
Lester said their goal was to catch the suspects while providing a sense of safety to a very shaken and grief-stricken community.
“When we talk about the K Street shooting, one of the points that I really want to reiterate to people is our job is to really bring justice to the families and to the victims,” Lester said. “And so there’s the immediate need for creating a sense of public safety. There’s also the immediate need for apprehension of those that were responsible.”
By the end of the week, police had arrested multiple people. Lester said her officers focused on working in the neighborhoods.
Lester said police got out of their cars and talked with people, working with well-established, community-based organizations to help quell the threat of retaliation and further violence.
“Those are groups that we have long-established relationships with. We work with every day. And so being able to call on them for help, to try and quell any issues in the neighborhood,” Lester said.
She said their long-term plan is to address the root cause, gang affiliation and prevention before it reaches the level of violence.
“We also called on the public’s help. And I have to say, I always try and thank the public for their help on this case,” Lester said.
The department created a tip portal for people to share their photos and video with the police.
“We have so many tips, over 200 photos, videos that really helped us resolve this,” Lester told FOX40
Lester emphasized that this is still an active and open investigation.
“The city and our department worked really hard to try and create that sense of safety because downtown is a really important asset within our city, and we want people to come downtown and enjoy the venues,” Lester said.
One of her goals as chief is to narrow the gap between police and the community they serve.
“I think that no matter where you come from, no matter what your background, no matter what you look like, you can be empathetic to other people’s experiences,” Lester said. “That’s a cool thing about America, right? That we can respect each other for being different and being diverse. And so I think that really comes down to perception and attitude and really having a good understanding — something that quite frankly we have missed in this country for a long time. And I think if we can see each other as people, and respect each other for who we are, then we can move forward.”
She said it comes down to more than officers just following policy and being accountable.
“I think it’s just as important to show people respect on a day-to-day basis. And I really feel that that’s the only way to change the narrative between law enforcement and communities, especially communities that have had negative impacts and interaction with law enforcement in the past,” Lester explained.
In part two of FOX40’s report on Chief Kathy Lester on Thursday, she talks about her plan to bring more diversity to her department, how they’re taking ghost guns off the streets and her thoughts on early prison release.