By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The first female California Highway Patrol commissioner is getting settled into her new office and role after serving as the deputy commissioner of the nation’s largest state police agency.

credit: California Highway Patrol

She hopes her story and career can inspire anyone to do whatever they hope and work to become in life.

“If we work hard, we can accomplish anything,” Commissioner Amanda Ray said.

And Commissioner Ray has accomplished quite a lot. She told the media in a press conference Thursday that she has now held every rank with CHP. She’s been with the agency for 30 years and doesn’t feel any added pressure when she was sworn in as the first female commissioner on Tuesday. 

Ray’s also the second African American commissioner for the agency. But, a three-decade career in law enforcement wasn’t what she wanted growing up.

“I didn’t grow up wanting to be in law enforcement. I grew up wanting to be a dentist,” Ray said. “You know, after I graduated from college I came on to the CHP to earn money for grad school.”

A former UC Berkeley basketball teammate who also joined CHP let her know of a place that could channel her competitiveness and call for service. Commissioner Ray hasn’t looked back.

“As you’re playing at the university level, you do public outreach and things like. So, she recommended the highway patrol,” Ray said. “I came on and clearly I fell in love with the department.”

And the department has fallen in love with her. As she takes on the role of commissioner, Ray welcomes the opportunity to find and fix problems within CHP to improve public trust.

“Through more self-examination, looking at our policies, procedures. Anywhere we can look and see if there’s anything we can do to improve ourselves and thus we’ll be able to improve those relationships,” Ray said.

As Ray continues to be a trailblazer, she has a message for other young women and minorities looking to make their place in the history books.

“I say to them, you know, you can do and be whoever you want to be if you work hard and you just stay the course,” Ray said.

Commissioner Ray hopes to work with local communities as much as the agency can. She also hopes to continue to provide transparency and accountability when it comes to CHP.

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