A string of deadly police shootings across the country has widened a racial divide between police and many minority communities.
Phoenix City Manager Ed Zurcher said his decision to pick Williams had nothing to do with race.
"It is a coincidence. If you take a look at the background, it is clear (Williams) has what it takes to be a big city police chief."
For Williams, this is a homecoming.
First hired by the Phoenix Police Department in 1989, Williams spent the next 22 years working her way through the ranks. Five years ago, she left for a job as police chief in Oxnard, CA.
The Phoenix Police Department has nearly 4,000 employees in seven precincts -- Desert Horizon, Black Mountain, Cactus Park, Mountain View, Central City, Maryvale and South Mountain. That puts it in the top 10 largest departments in the country. Phoenix P.D. serves more than 1.5 million residents living in a 500-square-mile area.