On Friday, the Phoenix New Times reported that Phoenix police chief Jeri Williams is announcing her retirement — amid a mounting barrage of scandals and investigations into her department.
"Williams, who has served as police chief for more than five years and will remain in the role until the city replaces her, wrote that nothing, in particular, had triggered her decision," reported Katya Schwenk. "She has spent 30 years in law enforcement and is now in her mid-50s. 'There is never a perfect time to transition, but the time feels right for me now to step aside,' she wrote. 'I feel called right now to go into a new direction, allowing me the rare opportunity to prioritize family and explore future endeavors.'"
However, all of this comes at a tumultuous time for law enforcement in America's fifth-largest city.
"The city is facing an extensive U.S. Department of Justice investigation into its law enforcement practices," noted the report. "And alongside the federal probe, there’s continued fallout from the department’s efforts to bring felony gang charges against political protesters in October 2020, most of which were dismissed four months later. Just two weeks before Williams announced her plans, ABC15 published audio of conversations between top officials in the department, which indicated that Williams and second-in-command Mike Kurtenbach scapegoated lower-level officers under pressure."
"Regardless of Williams’ rationale, for many of her critics, her planned retirement has been interpreted as a quiet resignation," the report continued. "Her planned departure fits a 'pattern of top officials jumping ship before the whole thing unravels,' according to Lola N’sangou, the executive director of Mass Liberation Arizona, a local advocacy group."
Phoenix has been a flashpoint for law enforcement controversies in the past. It is also the where Joe Arpaio served as county sheriff, concocting elaborate schemes to humiliate prisoners and illegally profiling Hispanic drivers.