CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The city of Chula Vista announced Wednesday that Capt. Roxana Kennedy will be the police department's next chief of police.
Kennedy will be sworn in Dec. 30 to replace outgoing Chief David Bejarano. She will be the department's 24th chief and the first woman to hold the position.
Kennedy's bio says as a captain, she led the department's Patrol Operations Division, which oversees roughly 65,000 calls a year and "meets crime face-to-face in a wide range of situations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
"It's surreal," said Kennedy, a 24-year Chula Vista police veteran.
Kennedy told 10News she didn't think much about being the first woman chief until she started receiving congratulatory messages Wednesday.
"It makes you realize that we do have a responsibility to realize that this is something exciting for women to see that, and the little girls out there to see that you can one day become the chief of police," she said.
She cited retiring Bejarano as her primary source of inspiration.
"Chief Bejarano is probably one of the most respected people in law enforcement," she said.
The Chula Vista Police Department's 350 employees work under a $50 million budget, but Kennedy said that's not good enough.
"Staffing is a huge concern to us at the police department," she said. "[Residents] think we have 50 officers in the field at any one time when we actually have 14."
"That one's going to be a challenge for us and I hope that we're able to get out there and recruit the right people," she explained. "I want the new officers coming out to know that you need to involve the people in the community and the stakeholders so that we can focus on the issues out there and work together."
Kennedy was also Chula Vista's first woman to be promoted to lieutenant and captain.