RICHMOND (KPIX) – Richmond’s new top cop is no stranger to the city. Police Chief Bisa French spent half her adult life working at the Richmond Police Department. Now, as the first woman to head the city’s department, she says she is ready to take on the 24/7 job.

“I never thought I’d be here sitting in this chair as the police chief. I came here just wanting to make a difference within my community,” said Chief French.

Chief French stepped in when the city’s last police chief stepped down ten months ago following a vote of no confidence by the Police Officers Association.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “There is a lot of pressure not just because of the challenges that we face. I know a lot of people are watching. I’m the first woman Police Chief within the city and a woman of color. “

French adds, “I want to do good by my community and I also want to do good by my officers and the department.”

That is a tall order during the pandemic and nationwide calls to defund police. She talked about what defunding the force means to her personally.

“So initially when I heard it obviously I thought they want us to go somewhere else and they don’t like the police department, but now I understand it. What it means to me is that people are calling for services to be provided with resources.”

French agrees social services need to be funded but says she doesn’t agree the money should come from the police department.

“I’m already trying to figure out how we are going to provide the level of service our community expects with the amount of resources we have at this time. We don’t have any more wiggle room in terms of what our budget is and how we can provide just emergency services response with the staffing we have now.”

French also talked about her immediate goals within a male-dominated field.

“My goal is to really work with the women in our department to make sure they are comfortable and feel included within our department which I haven’t always felt through my career here. “

Juliette Goodrich