Sacramento's chief of police does not report directly to Mayor Darrell Steinberg: He reports to the city manager.
That’s Howard Chan, who oversees all heads of departments, including Police Chief Daniel Hahn.
CapRadio's Bob Moffitt sat down with Chan on Thursday to discuss the incident on Monday night, when police arrested 84 people at the end of a Stephon Clark demonstration in East Sacramento. The following is an excerpt from that discussion:
Bob Moffitt: What went through your mind when you first realized what was going on?
Chan: You know, when I got the message that we had these mass arrests, I was surprised, because we've had all these protests in Sacramento forever, right? Obviously, I wanted some answers as to why we went down this road.
Who made the decision?
The incident commander.
Is there anything that can be done differently, or any kind of redirection once it's made on the ground?
Well, you know, that's a tough question, because in the moment you have officers and the incident commanders on scene making these split-second decisions, and it's the incident commander that, for the whole incident, that that gives the the direction go, no-go, for whatever action they're going to take. And so it has to be that way.
It's it's very similar when you look at other public safety agencies and even the fire department. You have somebody making the call based on the best information they have at the time.
What's the protocol for communications between you and the chief and the mayor during something like this? Are you the go-between, or is the mayor also included as a member of command staff?
The communication between myself and the police department is pretty constant about updates on what's going on. So, if an incident happens at a particular council district, that captain for that district will be in touch with a council member. And so the mayor is also brought in.
Were you involved in the planning at all for the response during this event, given that we were probably expecting something happened a year ago once the once the shooting occurred?
Well, the police department, they have been preparing for all eventualities. ... No I was not involved.
Who is accountable for whatever happened and why it happened Monday night?
Ultimately, I said this earlier today to another person asked that question, the buck stops with me. The police chief works for me. … It's with me, and I'm accountable to the mayor and council because I work for all nine of them.
Given that you weren't involved in the planning of whatever happened, or the response at least as far as a tactical standpoint, is that fair?
Absolutely. I'm charged with hiring all the department heads for the city in the various business lines that we operate and police being one of them.
What's going to have to come back to you from the police department and from the chief that will satisfy your questions?
I think that the mayor and the council laid out a series of questions. They've asked our Office of Public Safety and Accountability to come back and help answer. I have very similar questions, but I don't want to speculate what happened that night. I know that the outcome is very inconsistent with how we've handled protests in the past, and I too would like to know what precipitated the mass arrests.