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Jeri Williams named Phoenix police chief, first female chief in city’s history

Former Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams (Oxnard Police Department Facebook)

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix will name Jeri Williams its new police chief soon, a source told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

Williams, a former assistant police chief in Phoenix, will be the first female chief in the city’s history.

She will take over the department in October, when current Chief Joe Yahner retires.

Williams left the Phoenix Police Department in early 2011 to take over as chief of police in Oxnard, California.

During her first stint in Phoenix, Williams was in charge of the department’s southern division and oversaw about 1,000 sworn and civilian personnel.

“She rose through the ranks of the Phoenix Police Department, and has earned the respect of her colleagues and the communities she has served in every role she’s had, from foot patrol to command,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a release.

“I know she will do an exceptional job leading the best police department in America.”

Williams was one of three finalists being considered by the department. The other candidates, Assistant Phoenix Police Chief Mike Kurtenbach and Assistant Washington, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, both have 26 years of experience in law enforcement.

Williams has 28 years of experience.

When the department first announced in February it would seek a new top cop, Assistant City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said city leaders gave him a list of qualities they hoped to see in the hire.

“They want a chief that will be engaged with the community,” he said. “They want someone that will have integrity and show leadership.”

Phoenix’s former police chief, Daniel Garcia, was fired in 2014 after he requested a two-year contract from the city as the department and city leaders criticized the way he ran things.

Yahner has been running the department ever since.

Phoenix also has a female fire chief, Kara Kalkbrenner, who was hired in 2014.

Williams is not the first female chief to serve in the Phoenix area. Debora Black has led Glendale’s police force since mid-2013. She had been named interim chief in March 2012.

Earlier this year, Tempe named Sylvia Moir its chief.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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