MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) officially has a new police director.

In front of a packed crowd at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church on Friday, J.D. Patterson took his oath of office. The 30-year MDPD veteran received a standing ovation.

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Patterson – a husband, father and licensed minister – started as a patrolman, rose through the ranks to become the department’s second African American director in more than half a century.

His promotion came at a time when Miami-Dade is struggling with budget cuts, a loss of senior officers and new concerns about crime.

“I know there are challenges that lay ahead, because this community has always been a challenge as it relates to crime and violence and keeping people safe,” said Patterson. “But, I feel very good and honored to be in the service of our community.”

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City leaders say one of the reasons they have the utmost confidence in Patterson – aside from his integrity, work ethic and track record – is that he is a product of the Miami-Dade community.

Patterson was born and raised in Brownsville. He attended Miami Dade Community College, Barry University and the University of Miami.

“He knows what the issues are and he knows what he needs to do to prepare the department for the future,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

As for Patterson’s reputation of having a quiet demeanor, Former Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez says he is no pushover.

“In the 22 years I was in the police department, I’ve known J.D. and I promoted him a couple of times and he is the right man for the job,” Alvarez said.

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“A lot of people might think he will be soft but I can tell you underneath his calm demeanor, he can be the toughest of toughest cops I’ve seen in my 28 years.”