*A string of deadly confrontations between mostly white police and black men will be among challenges immediately facing Loretta Lynch, who was officially sworn in Monday as the 83rd U.S. attorney general
Lynch, 55, takes over as the country’s top law enforcement official after a weekend that saw thousands of people in Baltimore take to the streets in mostly peaceful protests over the latest such case. A 25-year-old black man died a week after being injured while in police custody.
Building on her career as an accomplished federal prosecutor, Lynch takes over from retiring Attorney General Eric Holder, who served more than six years at the head of the Justice Department.
Holder was the first black U.S. attorney general and Lynch becomes the first black woman to hold the job.
Besides the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, other questionable encounters between police and black males in recent months have led to unrest in South Carolina, Missouri, Ohio and New York.
The Justice Department is probing whether excessive force was used against minorities in violation of their civil rights.
“We can restore trust and faith both in our laws and those who enforce them,” Lynch said, regarding ongoing efforts to repair relations between police departments and minority communities.
Lynch also said her confirmation showed that “we can do anything” and pledged to deal with cyberattacks and other threats facing the country.
Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to Lynch at a Justice Department ceremony.
Lynch, 55, was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday following a months-long delay in which her nomination became caught up in a dispute over human trafficking legislation.
“It’s about time,” Biden said to applause.
She was previously the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which encompasses much of New York City, and is expected to serve as the top federal law enforcement official for the remainder of the Obama administration.