CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — The Town Manager of Chapel Hill announced Friday that the first female police chief will oversee the department next year.

The Chapel Hill Town manager, Maurice Jones, said Assistant Chief Celisa Lehew will become the ninth police chief, effective Jan. 1, 2023. She will replace retiring Police Chief Chris Blue.

“I am thrilled to be able to select one of our own to build on the lasting legacy of Chief Blue and the officers who have served with him,” said Jones. “Assistant Chief Lehew has been not only a leader in this organization but a leader in our community on many of the critical issues related to improving community safety for all. Through a rigorous process, which included a deep and talented pool of candidates, she presented us with a vision that continues the vital work that has made the Chapel Hill Police Department a leading organization locally, regionally, and nationally.”

Lehew will be the Town’s first female police chief. She was sworn in as a patrol officer in 2004 and has served in leadership roles in each of the department’s divisions in her almost 19-year career in Chapel Hill.

“I am proud to lead the Guardians of the Hill in a community that is supportive of a progressive, forward-thinking department,” said Asst. Chief Lehew. “We have a very strong foundation of community policing, and our officers are at the heart of that. As Chief, I will support and invest in our team, so we can give our best to our community.”

Asst. Chief Lehew says she takes pride in her many important relationships with community partners.

“I will continue to look inward to our officers and professional staff and outward to our community to help us make thoughtful decisions that will contribute to the health and well-being of everyone in our community,” she said.

“I am so excited for Chief Lehew and the Guardians of the Hill. Chief Lehew is the perfect selection to lead this extremely talented group of employees who deliver a special brand of policing to our community. And, that doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because we hire great people, listen to the community we serve, and are committed to maintaining strong relationships with every corner of Chapel Hill. The department is in good hands with Chief Lehew at the helm and I look forward to seeing what’s next for them under her leadership,” said outgoing Chief Blue.

Lehew is from Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. She earned a bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Lake Superior State University and a master’s in Justice Administration from Methodist University. She enjoys spending time with her husband, their two daughters and the family’s French Bulldog.