OAKLAND, Calif. - Amanda Ray was sworn in by Gov. Gavin Newsom as the first female commissioner of the California Highway Patrol.
"It's one that I do not take lightly, and I am extremely humbled and honored," Ray said Thursday.
She's also the second Black person to head the CHP, succeeding Warren Stanley, who was the first.
"I grew up in Oakland you know. I'm the youngest of eight children. So, I tell you, that early on that was instilled in me and my siblings -- that if you work hard, we can accomplish anything," Ray said.
Ray is a 30-year veteran of the CHP. But she got into law enforcement almost by accident.
"I didn't grow up wanting to be in law enforcement. I grew up wanting to be a dentist," she said, smiling.
But instead of pulling teeth, she began pulling people over, thanks to a teammate who joined the CHP after both of them played basketball at UC Berkeley.
Ray rose through the ranks, heading up CHP offices in San Jose and Riverside and serving as assistant chief of the Golden Gate Division in the Bay Area.
Ray says she and her officers - who interact with drivers of all backgrounds - will look inward and revamp policies, if need be, as part of the national reckoning over police misconduct.
"I think this is a huge opportunity. Opportunity to open up the lines of communication, you know, between public and law enforcement, because I think that's where the healing's going to occur," Ray said.
She says she's equally proud of being a Black woman as she is to be part of the CHP. She said her unique position allows for dialogue, including with her own family and friends.
"I'm always honored to be able to give the law enforcement perspective and to really be able to explain or to talk about what has, you know, some of the things they've seen," she said.