New police chief says Oakland force will own past mistakes

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland's new police chief says she won't shy away from controversy while working to make her city's police force a model for the rest of the country.

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"Oakland should be the safest city in America," said the new chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

Despite gains made in recent years, her new city could be safer. "Oakland is not as safe as it could be," she added.

Kirkpatrick is inheriting a force that has been mired in a sex scandal, been accused of racial profiling, and is still under federal oversight.

Those are some of the problems, but she also sees plenty of upside in her new job. "I love Oakland," Kirkpatrick said. "It's a beautiful city. When we show our pattern of being legitimate, that we care and that we can be trusted, I think those relationships can be rebuilt."

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Oakland's new police chief Anne Kirkpatrick discusses her new role with ABC7 News Reporter Laura Anthony.

Oakland is also a city that's a center of protest. A relatively small group is of particular concern, known for its destructive tendencies long after a peaceful event has ended.

"People who wish to protest, we are going to honor your rights and make sure you are given the opportunity to have your voice heard," said Kirkpatrick. "But the balance is you may not violate the rights of a nother person."

The new chief told us, whatever the issue, a centerpiece of her approach will be talking with and listening to all of the stakeholders in her city and she will acknowledge when mistakes are made.

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"We own it. We're going to address the fact where mistakes occurred," Kirkpatrick told ABC7 News. "We're going to talk about how we correct it for the future."

She says she's in it for the long haul.
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