Phoenix police chief to retire after 33 years

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams plans to retire this summer after 33 years of service with the Phoenix Police Department and six years as chief.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams intends to retire this summer, she revealed May 3.

“After much prayer and consideration and in consultation with my family and city leadership, I have decided to make a change,” Williams said. “There is never a perfect time to transition but the time feels right for me now to step aside. Just like when I felt called to do this job, I also feel called right now to go in a new direction, allowing me the rare opportunity to prioritize family and explore future endeavors.”

A Phoenix native, she has spent 33 years in law enforcement and is a few months away from completing her sixth year as chief.

Her career with the Phoenix Police Department began in 1989. Through the years, Williams worked through the ranks and eventually moved to Oxnard, California, in 2011 to serve as police chief. In 2016, she returned to the Phoenix Police Department to be police chief. 

In her public statement on retiring, Williams said she is “tremendously proud” of several initiatives she accomplished during her time as chief. She cited body-worn cameras, documenting every time an officer points a weapon at someone, implementing less lethal response to encounters, obtaining a new records management system and increasing transparency by showing public critical incident videos in 14 days or less.

She also thanked city leaders, including Mayor Kate Gallego, city council, city management and those she has worked alongside in law enforcement.

Many of those city leaders made public statements congratulating Williams on her accomplishments as chief and wishing her well.

“Here in Phoenix, Chief Williams was honored by the AZ Centennial Legacy Project as one of Arizona’s 48 most intriguing women for her leadership in law enforcement. And just last year, Chief Williams was appointed to the Arizona Peace Officer Standards & Training Board,” said District 1 Councilwoman Ann O’Brien.

“Chief Jeri Williams blazed a trail and will leave behind her success, leadership and knowledge for her predecessor. She’s left big shoes to fill, but I know the Phoenix Police force has some of the most outstanding individuals, and we will find a worthy replacement to carry on Jeri’s legacy. I hope Chief Williams enjoys her retirement.”

An official retirement date has not been set, but Williams said her last day will be sometime this summer. She did not reveal her plans. However, she added that she is proud to have paved the way for the department to move forward in a positive direction and open the door for the next chief.

“Chief Williams has devoted her professional career to the city she loves,” said City Manager Jeff Barton. “Her passion for this community, her leadership through challenging times and her commitment to reforming and evolving the Phoenix Police Department will be missed as she makes this decision to retire.”

Barton added that he intends to hire a temporary external interim chief. This person would help guide the entity through the Department of Justice’s investigation that questioned excessive force. 

“I still feel extremely proud and honored to put a badge and uniform on every day as a symbol of the oath I took in 1989 to serve and protect our community,” Williams said. “It has been my extreme honor to serve this city and department as your Phoenix police chief.”