New Phoenix police chief discusses transition and nationwide tension
PHOENIX — Phoenix’s new police chief Jeri Williams is taking over the department at a tough time for the country.
Right now North and South Carolina are wrapping up separate controversial officer involved shootings, while several cops across country who have been shot recently may have been targeted.
“When something happens across the country, it does resonate here,” said Williams.
Local officers and communities feel the pain and angst here when these incidents happen.
“We do want our men and women to be safe in responding to calls for service,” she said. “And at the same time we want our community to trust us, and hope that those same type of incidents don’t happen to that magnitude here.”
So far Phoenix police has managed to mitigate similar protest and officer involved shootings incidents, despite it being one of the last things they want to be involved in.
“But it is a very real reality that there are people out there that want to hurt police officers and want to hurt our community members,” she said.
So far Phoenix police has done a great job in dealing with protests, Williams said.
“We were able to manage that and mitigate that very well,” she said. “It’s all about communication, conversation and allowing people to exercise their rights, while still keeping the community and them safe.”
Overall Phoenix’s first female police chief is settling in, and getting to work in her new position.
“The transition has been surreal,” said Williams. She added that she didn’t know and understand how welcoming the department and the community was going to be.
“They’re just excited that I’m here, and that’s such a great feeling,” she said.
As for any parting words of wisdom from former chief Joe Yahner?
“He actually said, ‘Call me if you need me,'” she said. “I think Joe did a great job of balancing the ships, steering the ship in the right direction, all I had to do is take the wheel and move it forward.”