Phoenix police Chief Jeri Williams announces retirement

By Matthew Casey
Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 3:18pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2022 - 11:54am

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Chief Jeri Williams
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Jeri Williams in KJZZ's studio in 2018.

The Phoenix police chief says she is retiring after nearly six years on the job. Jeri Williams is set to leave a department still under a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Williams led reforms such as banning officers from using chokeholds.

But there were also scandals like Phoenix police making bogus gang accusations against protesters.

Whether the department retaliates against people for using their First Amendment rights is under investigation by the Justice Department.

Hear Matthew Casey discuss the controversies surrounding the Phoenix Police Department with host Lauren Gilger on The Show

Jacob Raiford, lead organizer for the W.E. Rising Project, said it’s poor taste for Williams to exit before the feds finish.

“And to leave at this time, again that is another example of failing to hold oneself accountable,” he said.

City officials said there will later be a national search to replace Williams.

Right now they’re looking outside the department for someone to be temporary chief during the Justice Department’s review.   

The union named the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association plans to work with city officials as they search for a temporary replacement for Williams.

The Fraternal Order of Police Phoenix Lodge 2 said turnover at the top is a chance to improve the department. 

Raiford said Williams’ tenure showed that Phoenix’s entire first-responder system needs to change.

“We can’t look at it from the scope of reforming. We have to completely restructure this. And we have to be brave enough to assess it from the level of the severity that it really is,” he said.

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