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Community relations look optimistic under new Phoenix police chief

PHOENIX — Marchelle Franklin, the Phoenix Police Community Affairs director, said she is looking forward to working with Chief Jeri Williams to build bridges and strengthen the relationship between the department and Phoenix residents.

Marchelle Franklin (Photo: City of Phoenix)

Marchelle Franklin (Photo: City of Phoenix)

In a time of growing hostility between police and the community they serve, Williams, Phoenix’s first female police chief, promoted Franklin to head the department’s community outreach effort. The promotion made her the highest-ranking civilian within Phoenix police.

“Recognizing the value of assigning me a rank speaks volumes in terms of my work that I do, especially within our department,” Franklin said. “Because we are obviously are structured around a rank-and-file [system].”

Franklin has been in a community outreach role with the department for two years. She said Williams giving her a rank shows how dedicated the new chief is to improving officer relations with the people they serve.

Franklin said the perspectives brought in by a police chief who is a female, an African-American and who grew up in the Phoenix area will make Franklin’s job relating to the community easier and more effective.

Franklin said she is optimistic because Williams came to her and said, “I need your voice because you don’t bring the law enforcement background to what you do. There is a perspective you have that is so sorely needed.”

Franklin said Williams told her she is glad to have someone who understands policing, but can look at things from a different angle.

“Even question when we say certain things and do certain things,” Franklin said of what Williams told her. “That causes us sometimes to have to pause and say, ‘Maybe we need to rethink about how we say this, or why we’re doing this.'”

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