Crime - Sacto 911

Brian Louie becomes interim Sacramento police chief after retirement of Sam Somers Jr.

Deputy Chief Brian Louie was sworn into office Monday as the interim chief for the Sacramento Police Department.

Louie takes over from Sam Somers Jr., who retired on Friday after leading the department since 2013.

Louie, 57, will be in charge while the city conducts a national search for Somers’ replacement. Louie is a 36-year veteran of the department whose positions have ranged from student trainee to deputy chief, the role he held for nine years before his latest promotion.

He took the helm one day before Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg’s swearing-in Tuesday. Louie and Steinberg are assuming their new roles as the department faces pressure from the City Council and community groups to improve policing response after the July death of a mentally ill man at the hands of officers.

The City Council passed changes last month aimed at increasing transparency and civilian oversight, but activists say they don’t go far enough.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye administered the oath of office Monday, and Louie then gave a speech during which he thanked several mentors and spoke about the need for law enforcement to engage with all segments of the community.

“I look forward to the challenges that face our city and our organization, and I’ll tell you right now, I’m up for that challenge,” Louie said.

He was not available to answer media questions Monday.

Louie is Sacramento’s first Asian American chief of police. Asian Resources Inc. Executive Director Stephanie Nguyen told the assembled officers, elected officials and community leaders about working with Louie to diversify the Police Department.

“When I look at this room, I not only see the (Asian and Pacific Islander) community here to support and acknowledge Brian Louie, the interim chief, but also the African American community and the Latino community,” along with representatives of groups that deal with domestic violence, education and family justice, Nguyen said.

“That proves to me that Brian is not just law enforcement, chief of police for one community, but he is one for all of us,” she said.

Several City Council members, representatives of state officials and crowds of officers attended the ceremony. Interim City Manager Howard Chan said at the community meetings he’s attended recently, people have come up to him to say that Louie is a good choice for the department.

“That speaks volumes about who Brian is and he’s just very well-trusted, and it’s a time when we need that in this department,” Chan said.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison