Erika Shields formally sworn in a Atlanta’s new police chief

Erika Shields was sworn in as Atlanta’s 24th chief of police on Tuesday. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

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Erika Shields was sworn in as Atlanta’s 24th chief of police on Tuesday. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

Erika Shields was sworn in as Atlanta’s Chief of Police on Tuesday in a swanky reception at the Commerce Club, one of the favorite dining and hobnobbing spots of the city’s movers and shakers.

Shields, a 21-year veteran of the force, becomes the second woman to take the post in the department's history following Beverly Harvard's appointment in 1994.

“I am truly humbled to be given the opportunity to lead the Atlanta Police Department,” Shields said, adding that her way has been paved by leaders such as former Police Chief George Turner, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Dave Wilkinson, president of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

“I am truly grateful to the faith that Mayor Reed is showing in me,” she said.

Reed said the swearing in ceremony was in essence the second time he has named Shields the city’s top cop, just weeks after making the announcement of her appointment in early December after Turner retired.

“This process never gets old when you have someone as talented as Chief Shields,” Reed said.

Reed said he knew Shields was the right choice after walking into the Atlanta Police Department’s command center last week as the city prepared for a threatening wintry mix that ultimately was less severe than anticipated.

“The first thing she said to me was, ‘Everything is in control,’” Reed said. “I could not have been more confident that our police force was in the right hands.”

Wilkinson said Shields has the skills to help APD navigate serious challenges ahead, including officer recruitment, reducing recidivism among criminals and helping head off problems with troubled youth before they see the back of a squad car.

Duriya Farooqui, executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress and Reed’s former chief operating officer, praised Shields for her extraordinary judgment.

“It is an honor to celebrate an outstanding leader,” Farooqui said. “Mayor Kasim Reed, you could not have made a better choice.”

Shields has bachelor of arts in international studies from Webster University and a master’s in criminal justice from Saint Leo University. She joined the Atlanta Police Department in 1995.