Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams says her retirement decision was to put family first
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A week after announcing her retirement, Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams sat down with Arizona’s Family to discuss her decision on Tuesday. Williams says the decision was motivated by her family, and she’s focused on putting family first in this new chapter of life. “It’s been 33 years that I’ve been in this business. So many tremendous successes, so many opportunities. It’s time to put family first for the moment,” said Williams.
So, what is next for the police chief? “Travel and see things while we’re still healthy enough to do so. But still not leaving public service,” said Williams. “We are a family of servants; my son is a firefighter, my husband is a judge...former councilperson. My oldest boy still plays basketball. We’re still servants to this community, and that’s not going to change.”
Williams also described the changes social media and cellphone videos have brought law enforcement since she’s been in the line of duty for over three decades. “When you think about law enforcement and how far we’ve come from the 33 years ago when I was brand new in Maryvale precinct, there were no cellphones, there were no social media,” she explained. “Then you put that on the backs of the men and women who respond to your worst call of service, and you have someone’s cellphone videotaping you. You have things posted on social media that may or may not be accurate, that wears on you and drains on you. And there comes a breaking point where you say, ‘I’m going to put my family first.’”
Williams started as the head of the department in Phoenix in 2016. In August 2021, the Department of Justice announced it would be investigating the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department. The investigation is looking into uses of force, how officers respond to situations and alleged discrimination. DOJ investigators came to Phoenix to speak with Williams, who was teaching officers de-escalation tactics. “Proudest moment will still and always be the work that we’ve done within the department. Me, engaging with my employees; I love my employees in ways folks don’t know. But also the relationships we’ve built within the community and have sustained those relationships even over troubling times, challenging times,” she said. “Who else can sit in my shoes and say, throughout the course of almost six years, we’ve gone through the ebbs and flows of law enforcement, and we’re still looking forward.”
Williams also delved into the future and what she hopes will happen within the department in years to come. “Stability, accountability, communication, the ability to stand firm in the decision-making and to be someone who can come in and speak with the media, speak with the community and engage with the department,” she said.
Williams started as a beat cop in 1989 and worked her way up the ranks to become police chief. Last Tuesday, Williams announced she would be retiring, saying she felt called to go in a new direction. She will be retiring sometime this summer but did not announce a specific date.
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