Ireland's new police chief Drew Harris has outlined his visions for the future of the force, promising to make the force more "transparent" and to get tough on criminals and do more to protect the vulnerable.

Drew Harris took up his new role as garda commissioner just after midnight on Monday and immediately promised to reform the force, which has come under much scrutiny over the past year.

Harris, who was the former deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), brings years of experience and expertise to the new role.

He has also suffered huge personal tragedy.  His father, RUC superintendent Alwyn Harris, was murdered in an IRA car bomb in 1989 at the age of 51 on is way to a church service near the family's Lisburn, Co. Antrim home.

Harris, who joined the RUC in 1983, has now relinquished his sworn oath to serve Northern Ireland and the U.K., and has switched allegiance to the garda and Republic of Ireland.

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But his appointment has not been without controversy, as concerns have been raised about his background and future security.

According to The Irish Times, the 53-year-old father of four will travel in an armored vehicle, under escort, "as he is considered a target for dissident republicans.”

But any possible concerns about his safety haven't deterred the University of Cambridge-educated cop's determination to both crack down on crime and clean up the under-fire and beleaguered force.

The Times notes that Harris has taken over a force "in dire need of reform,” which has been shaken in recent times by false breath test figures, missing homicide data, issues with finances, and the pending outcome of the Disclosures Tribunal.

But, in a letter to all gardai in which he shares his vision for the future, Harris promises, "We will have a workplace of openness and transparency, of equality and opportunity, and of management at all levels speaking with and listening to the people they work with."

He adds, "I will be particularly focused on ensuring that we do all we can to protect the vulnerable.

"I know at first hand the commitment, dedication and sacrifice that has been made by members of An Garda Siochana in securing the state, particularly from the threat of terrorism.  This has saved lives and protected communities on both sides of the border.  That work must and will continue to be a priority for the organization and me as commissioner."

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