Sacramento names Brian Louie as interim police chief

Interim Chief Brian Louie
Interim Chief Brian Louie

The Sacramento Police Department on Wednesday evening announced an interim replacement for departing police chief Sam Somers, Jr.

Deputy Chief Brian Louie will take the helm of the department while a national search for a permanent chief is conducted.

Louie will take over on Dec.10 when Somers officially retires. Somers announced his retirement soon after video footage of the shooting of Joseph Mann, a mentally ill homeless man shot 14 times by police, was released by The Bee. Mann was armed with a knife and acting erratically when police confronted him and the incident has prompted calls for reforms including greater transparency in the department.

Somers, a veteran of the force for more than 30 years, said he had been planning his retirement for some time.

Louie has been with the department for more than three decades and served in a variety of commands including managing internal affairs. He is one of three deputy chiefs considered for the job, and has served in the deputy chief role for nine years.

He will be the department’s first acting Asian-American chief.

Interim City Manager Howard Chan, who helped choose Louie along with departing City Manager John Shirey, said Louie “has a lot of experience we need to take advantage of.”

Chan added that Louie “is a guy that is a city resident with 36 years in the department.”

Many activists calling for reforms in the police department in the wake of the Mann incident have called for more officers to live in the city of Sacramento, rather than in neighboring communities.

Councilman Eric Guerra said Louie is known for being active in diverse communities, and has been present in South Sacramento at meetings of the Asian Pacific Islander community in recent months as the area has been plagued by a rash of crimes.

Chan said that the city is currently looking for a recruitment firm to handle a national search for a permanent police chief, and he expects the process to take 3-6 months. That will include time to solicit community feedback on the selection process, said Chan.

The search firm will be asked to show a history of “creative ways (they) have used to successfully engage the community,” said Chan.

Councilman Steve Hansen said Louie, "has basically had every job in the department except chief… and he is one of the most well suited that I can think of to fill this role. He deeply believes in community-oriented policing and he deeply wants to be a bridge …to give communities confidence in the department.”

Anita Chabria: 916-321-1049, @chabriaa