MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced the hiring of J.D. Patterson, Jr. to lead the Miami-Dade Police Department Friday morning.

The announcement came during a press conference at the Stephen P. Clark Center in Miami.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be standing before you and at the same time it’s humbling,” said Patterson, “because the Miami-Dade Police Department is one of the finest departments in the nation.”

The 52-year-old Patterson has been the department’s acting director since November and follows James Loftus who retired in September. He’s also only the second African-American director of the department in 56 years, but the second in the last nine years.

“I was raised here, I was born here,” Patterson said of his community ties.

Patterson, a licensed minister, has been with the department for nearly 30 years, rising through the ranks from patrolman to assistant director and now director. He has overseen a variety of units and commands including time working auto theft, sexual batteries, and internal affairs.

“I want this job because it is one of the greatest jobs in America to hold,” Patterson said.

Patterson takes over the department at a time when Miami Dade has been struggling with budget cuts and a loss of senior officers.

He said his priority is public safety, but in “a specific sense, violent crime. I want violent crime to continue to go down.”

Patterson is scheduled to retire in three years and will likely take steps to assure a smooth transition when he ultimately leaves.

“I think he’s someone who will prepare the next batch of leaders in the Miami-Dade Police Department,” said Mayor Gimenez.

Peter D'Oench