By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Last week, the city of Sacramento selected 27-year veteran Kathy Lester to become its next Chief of Police, replacing Daniel Hahn who announced his retirement in August.
Lester will be Sacramento’s 46th chief of police when Hahn steps down at the end of the month. She will be the first woman to hold the position. Lester currently serves as Sac PD’s Deputy Chief of Operations.
“I am humbled by this appointment and by the opportunity to serve our residents in this role,” Lester said. “I joined the Sacramento Police Department because of its reputation for community-based policing, and that spirit of community and collaboration has long been instilled in me.”
The OBSERVER reached out to Sac PD’s public information officers Sgt. Sabrina Briggs and officer T. Swanson to get a comment from Lester in regard to her vision of administering the department and building a relationship with the Black community.
“When deputy chief Lester is officially sworn in as chief of police, she will be able to go into better detail regarding her vision for the police department,” the PIO team responded in an email.
Sac PD officials said the city received approximately 1,700 responses to a community survey regarding qualities for the next police chief, which were used to help inform the hiring process.
Lester joined Sac PD in 1994 as a dispatcher, became a community service officer in 1995, and a sworn officer in 1996. She has worked in patrol, traffic, recruiting, Internal Affairs, criminal intelligence, and served as an executive in the North Patrol Command.
“During her time with the Sacramento Police Department, she has proven herself to be a dynamic leader with an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, accountability and innovation,” said City Manager Howard Chan, who made the appointment. “There is no one better to serve in this role and to continue the ongoing efforts of the department and its outstanding employees.”
Hahn, the 45th police chief, is also the first Black person hired as top cop of the city. Hahn had said after announcing his retirement that he preferred that his replacement would emerge from his department despite the fact that he had no role in the hiring process.
“Kathy Lester is not just a home-grown talent and a historic appointment; she is 100 percent the right person to lead this department at this time, displaying an unparalleled breadth of experience as well as the values critical to our communities,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “I know she will be terrific in this position and continue the high standards set by Chief Hahn.”