Sacramento’s first Black police chief points to an unusual upbringing by his mother in a nurturing community as sources of strength that will enable him to fix the city’s broken police department.
Daniel Hahn, who was sworn in as chief of the troubled department in August, is overseeing an investigation into the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark, while protesters demand swift action. Two of Hahn’s officers shot 20 times at Clark, a 22-year-old Black man who was unarmed. Many protesters from the city’s Black community are hopeful and giving Hahn some space to fix things, according to the Sacramento Bee.
“Who I am is my mother. I’m not as good a person as she is, but everything good about me is from her, that’s for sure,” Hahn said about his White mother when he was sworn into office. Mary Hahn, the chief’s mother, gave him the people skills and values that helped him to climb the ladder of success in his 30-year law enforcement career.
Mary Hahn adopted the future police chief in 1968 when he was a baby—put up for adoption by an unmarried interracial couple. His biological father was African American. And Hahn’ White mother had a racist family that would not accept a Black child.
At age 3, Mary Hahn and her husband moved to a Black community in Sacramento because she wanted him to grow up in a nurturing environment, among people who looked like him. She developed close friendships with folks in the community and encouraged them to consider Hahn as their own son. As a son of that community, many hope that he will be able to build trust for law enforcement and eradicate racial bias in the police force. There was a similar uprising in 2016 after the police shot another Black man, Joseph Mann.
The husband and father of two daughters will depend on the bond he has with the Black community to succeed in the task before him. “I’m here because my community carried me here. Sacramento carried me here,” he commented at his swearing-in ceremony.