Incoming DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos speaks during her introductory press conference at the Manuel J. Maloof Auditorium Monday. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

‘I’m here to serve’: DeKalb introduces its first female police chief

DeKalb County formally introduced its new police chief to members of the community on Monday, heralding a historic appointment.

Mirtha V. Ramos will be the county’s first permanent female police chief when she begins the new position Nov. 4. She comes to DeKalb as a 22-year veteran of the Miami-Dade Police Department, where she is currently serving as a division chief.

“I come here with no agenda. I come here to work with the men and women of the DeKalb County Police Department,” Ramos said at a news conference. “I guarantee you that I’m here to serve.”

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, introducing Ramos, said it was a “historic moment in the history of DeKalb County.

“She is the very best, the brightest,” Thurmond said of Ramos. “She is the right leader. … She has the talent, she has the skill.”

A native of Philadelphia, Ramos moved to Miami when she was 21 and joined the police department. She rose through the ranks to become a captain, major and division chief. She also helped grow Miami-Dade’s Youth Outreach Unit, a community-oriented policing initiative.

Ramos (center) introduces herself to members of DeKalb County's law enforcement before a press conference Monday. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

Ramos said becoming a police officer was a lifelong dream “that I put on the backburner because I had my children at an early age, and I wanted to be a mother.”

As DeKalb’s chief, she said she hopes to expand on the county’s efforts to improve the police department’s relationship with residents.

“Community policing will be at the forefront,” Ramos said.

Ramos is bilingual and answered several questions at the news conference in Spanish. She also said she was “honored” to be the department’s first female chief, though she also paid her respects to the women who came before her in the department.

» PREVIOUS COVERAGE: DeKalb County names new police chief, first woman to lead department

“I’m only here today because of all the women that have fought hard that are holding those positions now and before me,” she said, standing in front of the police department’s command staff.

During the event, Thurmond honored another DeKalb County history-maker: the first female police officer to join the department. Gale Karabeika has served for 43 years and said she “loved every minute of it.”

As for Ramos’ plans to cut down on crime in DeKalb, she said she plans to “come in and evaluate” before making any drastic changes within the department. She said she plans to first embed herself with the officers and residents.

New DeKalb County police Chief Mirtha Ramos speaks with county CEO Michael Thurmond and members of the police department Monday morning. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

“It’s important for the officers to be able to have a voice,” Ramos told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview after the press conference. “If I know what the officers are thinking, if I know what issues and troubles they’re encountering … then we’ll be able to help.”

At the helm of what is believed to be the second largest police department in the state, Ramos will oversee 800 sworn officers and 110 civilian employees and manage the department’s $95.1 million budget. Her annual salary will be $218,000 plus benefits and a take-home vehicle.

Ramos replaces former chief James Conroy, who retired in April.

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