Less than 24 hours after another shooting involving one of her police officers, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams sat down with Nicole Crites to discuss the issue of officer safety in this city.
“I oftentimes get asked questions, you know, ‘What's going on in our community?’” Williams said. “Well, violence is going on in our community!”
[WATCH: Entire interview]
[THE LATEST SHOOTING: PD: Officer, suspect in critical condition after shooting in north Phoenix]
According to Williams, there have been 34 officer-involved shootings this year.
“There’s a 45 percent increase in aggravated assaults against officers” she continued.
What’s fueling that increase? Williams doesn’t know yet, but she intends to find out.
[INFOGRAPHIC: By the numbers]
[SPECIAL SECTION: 2018 officer-involved shootings]
“I've never been one to just sit back and let things happen,” she said. “We have to be proactive and we have to find out why.”
The City of Phoenix has allotted money for a study to find the answer. Williams made an emergency request to the City Council in June. The National Police Foundation will handle the study.
“I am concerned about people pulling guns on my officers,” Williams said. “I’m concerned about people … shooting at my officers. This is not how society is supposed to operate.”
While there are those questioning the Phoenix Police Department – and Williams’ leadership – the chief says there is far more support than criticism.
“We are so overwhelmingly supported by people in our community,” she said.
Before she came back to Phoenix -- she graduated from the Phoenix Police Academy in 1989 and rose through the ranks to become an assistant chief in 2009 -- Williams was the chief in Oxnard, CA. The City of Phoenix announced her hiring in July 2016. An alumna of both Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University, Williams is the first woman to lead the Phoenix Police Department.
Williams took over the department in October 2016, so she's been the city's top cop for nearly two years now.
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