Jackie Lacey was sworn in as Los Angeles County’s first woman and first African American district attorney Monday in a ceremony at USC’s Galen Center. She's also the first African American elected to a countywide office.
“It hardly seems real,” Lacey said. “I praise God for the journey as well as the victory.”
Lacey, 55, born and raised in the Crenshaw District in South L.A., was the first in her family to go to college. She graduated from USC Law School and spent 26 years as a prosecutor before taking the top job. Her mother was a seamstress, her father cleaned lots for the city of L.A. The daughter will now lead the largest local prosecutors office in the country.
“How cool is that?” Lacey said at a ceremony where her nine-year-old niece sang and the Inner City Youth Orchestra performed.
“I salute my dad… for being my very first leadership coach,” Lacey told a gathering that included four former D.A.’s: John Van de Kamp, Robert Philibosian, Gil Garcetti and outgoing D.A. Steve Cooley. Sheriff Lee Baca, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and 40 other local police chiefs also attended.
Presiding Superior Court Judge Lee Smalley Edmon said Lacey’s elevation to D.A. sends a powerful message in the law enforcement community.
“With a lot of hard work, anyone can be a success in this profession, regardless of his or her race or gender,” she said.
“You broke the glass ceiling,” Van de Kamp added.
“She brings a level of honesty and commitment that has inspired me,” said Andre Birotte, the first black U.S. Attorney in L.A. who served as master of ceremonies for the event.
“It’s the end of an era, but it’s the beginning of another,” said Cooley, who served for three terms before retiring.
Cooley was a strong supporter of Lacey, who defeated Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson in November.
Lacey said she knew she’d face challenges, but believed the D.A.’s office was in “good shape” now and promised to be faithful to her oath.
“To the people of Los Angeles, protecting your safety and maintaining the integrity of the justice system will be my top goals,” she said.