Former Phoenix Police assistant chief: Williams’ legacy is transparency, leadership amid protests

May 4, 2022, 4:35 AM

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)

PHOENIX — The former assistant chief of the Phoenix Police Department said Tuesday that Jeri Williams’ time as head of the force will be remembered for transparency advances and her leadership during protests following the death of George Floyd.

Williams, the first woman police chief in Phoenix’s history, announced she will retire this summer after nearly six years as chief and more than 25 years with the department.

“Her legacy in my mind is going to be that she continued moving the Phoenix Police Department forward during her tenure as police chief,” Kevin Robinson, former assistant chief of the Phoenix Police Department, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad. “She made things more transparent, body-worn cameras throughout the organization.

“When you sit back and look at it from a technological standpoint, look at the strides that she has made, they were at the forefront of policing in the 21st century.”

Williams was a commander working for Robinson when he was assistant chief, but he said their professional and personal friendship goes back to when she first started with the department in 1989.

“I think she has done a very good job,” Robinson said. “She’s done a tremendous job.”

Robinson complimented Williams’ leadership during the protests following Floyd’s death in Minnesota police custody in the summer of 2020, saying she demonstrated that she could understand everyone’s feelings.

“She understood why people were protesting, she understood the angst on the part of the police officers, she understood all of those things,” Robinson said. “She continued moving forward, she was available, she spoke out, she made sure everyone understood that she was for good policing, professional policing.

“I think when we sit back, it was that ability to navigate, that ability to lead in really tough times.”

Williams is retiring amidst her department being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding potential civil rights violations and abuses of power. Whatever comes from that investigation, Robinson said Williams will be accountable.

“I don’t think Jeri (Williams) will shy away from any of the things that have occurred recently,” Robinson said. “I think she will stand up to it. She will own it if it’s her responsibility to own.”

He added that, statistically, the tenure of most major city police chiefs is five years.

“What happens during those five years, if something catastrophic within an organization occurs, and we’ve had a couple within Phoenix, ultimately, it’s the police chief’s responsibility,” Robinson said. “Jeri (Williams) understood that, anybody who wants to be a police chief has to understand that.”

Robinson said he has yet to talk to Williams about her decision to retire at this time, but mentioned he has heard from other law enforcement organizations around the country that she has been sought after for some time from a consulting standpoint.

“I don’t know what’s going on and why she chose now, whether or not she pops up somewhere else or she just sits back for a while and enjoys her family,” he said.

Robinson added he believes the process to replace Williams will take at least a year and include a nationwide search with City Manager Jeff Barton getting input from law enforcement executives from around the country.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Closing arguments were made against a southern Arizona rancher accused of shooting an undocumented migrant on his land to death on Thursday.

30 minutes ago

Operation Makeup Break Up...

Serena O'Sullivan

3 West Valley women accused of selling stolen merchandise out of their homes

Three West Valley women have been indicted for operating illicit businesses from their home using stolen merchandise, authorities said.

1 hour ago

Aircraft perform a flyover during the Global Premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick" on May 4, 2022 in San ...

David Veenstra

Scottsdale Airport to show ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ for its first movie night

Scottsdale Airport will offer a starlit screening of "Top Gun: Maverick" on Saturday with Tom Cruise soaring as a daring naval aviator.

4 hours ago

File photo of a prison fence with barbed wire on top. Broderrick Ramon Coggeshell was sentenced Mon...

Arizona drunk driver sentenced to 9 years in prison for causing fatal crash in 2022

An Arizona man was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for causing a fatal crash in 2022 while driving drunk, authorities said.

6 hours ago

Preparations are underway for the Home & Garden Show's Floral Showcase at WestWorld of Scottsdale. ...

David Veenstra

Maricopa County Home and Garden Show’s new Floral Showcase coming to Scottsdale this weekend

The Maricopa County Home and Garden show's Floral Showcase is coming to the Valley for the first time this weekend.

7 hours ago

Screenshot of video taken at the scene of a multivehicle crash in Scottsdale on April 18, 2024....

Multiple patients treated after crash involving 5 vehicles in Scottsdale

Three people were taken to hospitals and six others were treated at the scene after a multivehicle crash in Scottsdale on Thursday.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Former Phoenix Police assistant chief: Williams’ legacy is transparency, leadership amid protests