Richmond appoints Bisa French as police chief

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Richmond top cop reacts to George Floyd's death
Photo: City of Richmond

Bisa French is no longer Richmond’s interim police chief. Now, she’s simply police chief.

On Thursday, the city announced that French has been appointed as the city’s new police chief. She’s the first woman with African American and Latina heritage to serve as chief. Her permanent role becomes effective on Aug. 1, according to a city statement.

Chief French has had a good amount of experience at the helm of the 250-member police department with an annual budget of about $70 million. The 22-year RPD veteran has been serving as interim chief since September last year, when former Chief Allwyn Brown resigned following a no-confidence vote in his leadership by the police rank-and-file.

The city praised Chief French’s career and her leadership thus far, saying she’s committed to community policing, community partnerships and advancing RPD in the areas of technology, social media and training.

“I’m delighted to appoint Bisa French, and gratified that our Police Chief is someone of such high quality, impeccable character, and unparalleled local experience,” Richmond City Manager Laura Snideman said in a statement. “In addition to her outstanding law enforcement qualifications, she’s someone who really knows the people, the issues, and the values and needs of the Richmond community.”

RELATED: Q&A with Chief French in October 2019

Chief French has spent her entire law enforcement career with RPD. She was a single mother when she started out as police officer in 1998. She rose up the ranks including detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and assistant chief. In 2013, she became RPD’s first African American and Latina captain — and also the youngest to ever hold the position.

Her leadership has been credited with creating a multi-disciplinary team to strategize on how best to serve the mentally ill; implementing a process for officers to receive Crisis Intervention Training; spearheading development of the Family Justice Center; managing the Mental Health Evaluation Team pilot project in which an officer and a mental health operative work together in engaging the mentally ill in crisis; overseeing the implementation of RPD’s body camera program; restructuring the RPD chain of command for sergeants and lieutenants to increase accountability and serving on the Contra Costa County Police Chief’s Association’s Racial Justice Task Force.

In a statement, Chief French said she’s thrilled to continue in her role as the city’s top cop.

“At this juncture in our nation’s history, the role of law enforcement is evolving rapidly,” Chief French said. “It’s particularly important right now to honestly maintain a culture of excellence, trust, and transparency, in partnership with our community. I’m proud that the people in our department and our City are committed to these values, which will guide my continuing leadership of the RPD.”