San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto speaks at his swearing-in ceremony at City Hall.
CNN  — 

San Francisco just appointed a new sheriff – the first Asian American sheriff in California history.

Paul Miyamoto, who is of Japanese ancestry, was sworn in Wednesday as the 37th sheriff of San Francisco. He succeeds Vicki Hennessy, who was San Francisco’s first female sheriff.

Miyamoto, who began his career with the department in 1996, first ran for sheriff in 2011, but lost. He’s only the second sheriff in the department’s history to rise from the ranks to be elected sheriff, and the first of Asian descent.

When asked about this moment, Miyamoto said the historical importance hadn’t really struck him.

His family watches as Miyamoto is sworn in by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

“There’s a humbling feeling, of being a groundbreaker and moving forward as somebody who is of Asian American descent,” he said. “And in this day and age, to be the first at something, is not just an accomplishment but it’s a responsibility, to make sure that I model the positive behaviors I want to see in our department, and also be somebody who others can look to.”

About 6.9 million people of Asian descent reside in California, the only state where the Asian population is more than 5 million. San Francisco County is just over 35% Asian, according to estimates from the US Census – roughly 300,000 Asian people.

Miyamoto is moving up from his previous role as a chief deputy in the sheriff’s department. He ran for the position unopposed.

In his inaugural address, Miyamoto praised his family and outgoing sheriff Hennessy. He also addressed the increase in behavioral health issues with people in jail, saying that the department has special teams dedicated to help.

“As the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department moves forward, you can expect more of this from my staff and me: care, compassion, collaboration,” he said.