FREMONT, Calif. - Hundreds of block parties were held across the Bay Area for “National Night Out.” The annual event brings first responders and the community together to build stronger ties. Residents in Fremont met their new police chief, who is the department’s first, openly gay chief in its 62-year history.
Kimberly Petersen said one of her priorities as the new police chief in Fremont is to make connections with the community. She was eager to meet residents during National Night Out. It’s always the first Tuesday in August and meant to bolster relationships with neighbors and the police.
“This is a fantastic way for us to get out and have these positive interactions with the community,” Petersen said.
The 48-year-old isn't new to the department. She’s been with the force for 22 years and spent five years as captain. As for being the city's first female, openly gay chief, she said it's never mattered who she was behind the badge.
“I’m proud to be who I am,” said Chief Petersen. “I’m proud of my family and I’m proud the agency has always welcomed us as we work. If I can be a role model for others in the community, I'm glad to do that. I certainly would like to be known for what I’ve done with the community and the agency.”
The former city manager appointed her for her experience and her tactical and technical knowledge of police work. However, being the top cop doesn't come without its challenges. She said, her main goal is staffing. Like many departments in the Bay Area, they're struggling to hire officers.
“We are competing with the Google and the Yahoos and the YouTubes in this area which is very difficult,” said Chief Petersen.
It comes at a time when the population of Fremont is now 230,000 people making it the Bay Area’s fourth largest city.
“We have BART issues and BART Police is right behind us,” said Cezanne Ma of Fremont. “We have a significant homeless issue here in Fremont.”
Ma has lived in Fremont for 23 years. She said, for the most part she feels safe. She and many others didn't know the chief. She’s happy to work with her and the police to only make the city safer.
“We need to do our part to keep our community safe,” said Ma.