LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The California Highway Patrol made history on Thursday by swearing in its first female and second Black commissioner.
Amanda Ray says her heart had always been set on community service, but her career path isn’t exactly what she had planned.
Growing up, Ray said that law enforcement wasn’t on her radar.
“I didn’t grow up wanting to be in law enforcement,” she said. “I grew up wanting to be a dentist! After I graduated from college, I came on to the CHP to earn money for grad school.”
What started off as a stepping stone eventually evolved into her life’s work.
Ray is now making history as the first woman to lead the nation’s largest state law enforcement agency.
“I don’t feel pressure. I really feel a sense of pride,” she said. “To be able to go out there and continue to move our department forward is more of an honor than anything.”
Ray joined the CHP in 1990 and rose through the ranks over 30 years. She recently served as the incident commander during the COVID-19 pandemic, months of civil unrest, and unprecedented wildfires.
“I grew up in Oakland. I’m the youngest of eight children. Early on, that was instilled in me and my siblings that if we work hard, we can accomplish anything,” she said.
She said she’s committed to working hard on repairing the strained relationship law enforcement and the communities they serve.
Her goals are “to engage with local communities as much as we can, and to increase transparency and accountability,” she said.
“We’ve just got to continue to move forward and to serve the public in the way that we swore to do,” she said.