First Latina and woman sworn in as Alameda County sheriff

It was a historic moment Tuesday as Yesenia Sanchez was sworn in as Alameda County sheriff. 

Sanchez, a 25-year veteran of the sheriff's office, is the first woman and Latina to fill the role. 

Though short in stature - Sanchez whipped out a stepstool before addressing a crowd at the Scottish Rite Center in Oakland - she is standing tall, confident she'll reform an agency that's seen its share of controversies.

KTVU's Henry Lee sat down with the new sheriff before the ceremony.

"Super-excited," Sanchez said. "I am definitely ready for the task, and it's definitely a heavy lift, I know."

Sanchez says her priorities include improving community relations and restoring trust in an agency saddled by lawsuits, alleged misconduct and concerns over jail conditions.

"We are bringing a new way of policing to our communities. Policing with humanity, policing with respect and compassion," Sanchez said.

She says she wants inmates at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin to be treated humanely and given chances to grow.

"Making sure that we are putting measures in place, services and programming in place for individuals who are coming back into society," she said.

Sanchez says she plans to hold deputies accountable. 

And it’s been a challenging past few months.

Dozens of deputies found to have been improperly hired after doing poorly on psych exams. 

Deputy Devin William Jr.s, charged with murdering a couple in Dublin. 

And yet another deputy charged with DUI after crashing a sheriff’s truck into a big rig on I-580 in Livermore.

"I'm going to make sure that individuals that do behave poorly, that they are disciplined in a way where their behavior is corrected," Sanchez said.

Sanchez succeeds Greg Ahern, who served as sheriff for 16 years and retired Tuesday after serving 43 years.