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City of Phoenix quietly searching for new interim police chief

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 21:14:04-04

PHOENIX — It has been more than two months since Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced she will be retiring this summer.

The city, though, has still not posted the job.

A city spokesperson told ABC15 they do not have to because it is an interim position.

"The most effective hiring processes, especially for a highly specialized executive-level position like this one, require recruitment efforts outside of simply posting a job opening," said Dan Wilson, Director of Communications for the City of Phoenix.

Since May 3, when the city announced Williams' upcoming retirement, leaders have said very little about their search for the city's top cop. A spokesperson says the city is searching for a replacement on its own, and they have not hired a recruiting agency.

At the May news conference, the Phoenix City Manager, Jeff Barton, made it clear what he is looking for in the next leader.

"We will be looking for someone to help guide us through the department as they are going through the patterns and practice investigation by the DOJ," said Barton.

He also said Williams' replacement will be someone from outside the department and not necessarily a long-term leader.

"The interim chief is just that, interim," said Barton. "I'm looking for someone to help us navigate these next to 18 months."

Some people are worried that all of the parameters in place will restrict the number of good leaders who are qualified to take over.

"Most people, particularly if they're coming from outside the state, are not going to want to uproot and come into a situation they know is temporary," said Andy Anderson. "So that creates some real challenges for city management to find somebody that's willing to come in on an interim basis."

Anderson retired as an Assistant Chief with Phoenix PD in 2011, after serving with the department for 37 years.

His concern is with the leader's insistence on hiring externally.

"I personally believe it makes a big difference. If you grew up in this community," said Anderson, who said he knows there are qualified internal candidates. "And when you come from outside, I just don't know that you bring that same commitment into that agency."

Two sources tell ABC15 that Williams has said 'late August' is her expected departure date. A city spokesperson said there is still not a firm date for her last day on the job.

On May 3, Barton said, "60 to 90 days...would be ideal...to identify the right person."

It has been 63 days since, and no one has any idea who is on the shortlist.