NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Lt. Manmeet Colon’s interest in law enforcement began at a high school career fair in New York City.

From there, she enrolled to study criminal justice at the University of New Haven and then graduated from the police academy in 2008.

“I came in, I handed my application in, and the rest is history,” she said.

Now, she’s the one making history.

The New Haven Board of Police Commissioners has approved Colon as the newest assistant chief of the department.

“I told myself the first few weeks. I’m just going to listen,” Colon said. “Listen to everyone, listen to the officers, listen to the supervisors, and just observe.”

Chief Karl Jacobson said that Colon was the right person for the job and would be a trailblazer as the department’s first Indian-American assistant chief.

“I saw from that day someone who cared about that community, was all about policing and wanted to do policing the right away,” Jacobson said. “I’ve seen her mature into a good leader, and someone who I say gets it.”

Colon was 11 years old when she immigrated from India, adapting to an unfamiliar culture.

“I caught myself watching moving a lot of times,” Colon said. “I didn’t understand a word. The only thing I did pick up on was the word ‘OK.’ So, for months and months and months, I’d say ‘OK, OK,’ and my mom said ‘Enough!’ obviously in Punjabi.”

She’s risen through the ranks in New Haven, serving in the special victims unit, working in recruitment, and acting as a district manager.

“I think that support is what brought me to the stage at this point of my life,” she said. “It would not be without the people I had in my life — whether in the PD or the people that I surrounded myself with in the community.”

She firmly believes in career development programs for officers, setting them up with mentors who can check in on them throughout their careers.

Women currently make up about 17% of the department. Jacobson looks to boost those numbers.

“That’s not enough,” he said. “We need more. We need to be a department that’s women-friendly, and Manmeet’s going to help to do that.”

Colon is dedicated to moving the department forward.

“I’m ready. I’m prepared,” she said. “I have a lot of learning to do. I have some great people who are around me.”

Colon rounds out the chief’s leadership team, joining two other assistant chiefs. She will be sworn in next week.