Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers has announced his retirement, effective Dec. 9. His announcement comes as the department takes criticism for the shooting deaths of two people by officers.
Before Tuesday night’s Sacramento City Council meeting, Somers addressed the timing of the announcement. He says he promised his family last year that he would retire by the end of 2016.
"I had one project that was just coming to fruition, which is the real-time crime center," says Somers. "It got delayed a little bit. It was supposed to be done in July. So, I was hoping to kind of get that behind me and kind of move on. At a certain point, I’m gonna honor the commitment I made to my family."
Under Somers, the police department has launched a community policing strategy and teamed up with the website Nextdoor to encourage people to make their neighborhoods safer. The department also tested body cameras and installed cameras at several high-crime intersections around town.
He says he hopes his legacy is that of an effective leader.
"I’m hoping the time that I spent here, people are gonna say the place is better than what it was, that Sacramento’s safer and that we’ve done more with the community outreach that we did in the last three years than we’ve probably done the last two decades," says Somers.
The department has also been the subject of scrutiny and criticism in recent months, following the shooting deaths of two men by his officers. Somers says the department must communicate better with the people it serves. He also called on the city council to pay officers more in order to prevent them from leaving for other departments.
Somers says he chose Friday, Dec. 9 as his final day on the job as an early birthday present. His birthday is Dec. 12.
The police chief reports to City Manager John Shirey, who is leaving three weeks before Somers.
Shirey says it is entirely possible that the newly-selected Interim City Manager, Howard Chan, will likely select the next police chief.