Jun 15, 2022 - Politics

What Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego wants in the city's next police chief

Illustration of a "hello my name is..." sticker shaped like a police badge.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego tells Axios she's looking for a police chief who will build community trust and partner with clinicians and other experts to deliver the right response to every call.

Driving the news: Police Chief Jeri Williams announced in May she will retire this summer after almost six tumultuous years on the job.

  • The Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation into the department last year to review its use of force and retaliation as well as discrimination concerns following years of public complaints.
  • City Manager Jeff Barton said in a press release that he plans to hire an interim police chief to guide the city through the DOJ's investigation and then will conduct a nationwide search for a permanent chief.

What she's saying: "I'm looking for leadership at the department that motivates and inspires our officers and who are community trusts," Gallego says.

Gallego stresses the importance of hiring someone who will work with other experts to make sure the city deploys the appropriate team to each call for help.

  • The mayor has pushed for the expansion of the Community Assistance Program, which sends behavioral-health professionals to assist police with crisis calls.
  • "We want to have a smart and compassionate response to everyone who needs our help," Gallego says.

What's next: It's ultimately up to Barton to hire the interim and permanent chief, but the city council likely will have to approve the interim’s contract.

  • The council's last meeting before summer break is July 1. It won't meet again until Aug. 31.
  • The council could call for a special session if it wants to approve the contract during the summer break.
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