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Kim Foxx sworn in as Cook County state’s attorney

Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans swears in Kim Foxx as Cook County’s first African-American female state's attorney. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Promising “transparency” and building trust with many in the community who are “angry and grieving,” Kim Foxx was sworn in Thursday as Cook County’s first African-American female state’s attorney.

Chief Cook County Judge Timothy Evans swore in Foxx before a crowd at the Harold Washington Library that included Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, former Gov. Pat Quinn, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli and several Chicago alderman.

After the brief ceremony, Foxx, who defeated her predecessor Anita Alvarez amid criticism over the prosecutor’s office’s handling of the Laquan McDonald police shooting, offered few specifics on how she plans to run the office differently.

“These are problems that have been decades in the making, and certainly there will be a concerted effort to shift policy,” Foxx said. “But changing culture takes time. I’m optimistic that we will be able to have programming, we’ll have initiatives that people will see the immediate effect. The transparency itself alone will be a dramatic change with how the office operates now.”

When asked about concerns on whether she would be more of a public defender than a tough-on-crime prosecutor, Foxx said, “I think it’s interesting that when we talk about maintaining civil rights and civil liberties that somehow it only is the job of a public defender. The state’s attorney’s job is to fight for justice, and in doing that you have to make sure you are upholding the Constitution.”

Earlier, after she the took the oath following an introduction by her older brother Stephen Anderson, Foxx joked, “They said that today would be a historic day, my brother saying nice things about me to a crowd.”

Foxx got roaring applause when she mentioned that she was the first black woman to hold the office. She briefly talked about growing up in Cabrini Green, a neighborhood that isn’t so different from the ones where the murders are taking place and snuffing out the hopes and dreams of many living there.

She vowed to work as a servant and not brush off murder statistics as just numbers.

“We all hurt,” Foxx said.

Noting that trust in law enforcement is “dangerously low,” Foxx said, “We cannot deal with the violence in our community as simply a law-enforcement effort. The community needs us, and we need them and the obligation is on us to meet them where they are and tell them we hear them, we acknowledge them.

“. . . We own what has happened to them and the way we do that is to speak truths that are uncomfortable to talk about. We do not take small steps . . . we confront the historic injustices that have existed in the criminal justice system for decades.”

During her speech, Fox also promised to hold people accountable for their actions, no matter who they are.

She later told reporters that she plans to review recent cases of police-involved shootings and a “wholesale review” of existing protocol dealing with those incidents.

“We’ve had a structure in place for decades that had not ensured accountability,” Foxx said.