Aug 1, 2022 - News

Baltimore's Michael Sullivan named Phoenix interim police chief

A man posing for a headshot in front of flags.
Photo: City of Baltimore

Baltimore Police executive Michael Sullivan will lead the Phoenix Police Department as interim chief starting Sept. 12.

  • He is currently the deputy commissioner of Baltimore PD's compliance bureau.

Driving the news: Current Phoenix chief Jeri Williams announced in May that she planned to retire. She's served in the role for the past six years.

What they're saying: "His experience working in collaboration with communities, the DOJ, federal court and more gives me confidence he has the experience necessary to step into the interim Phoenix police chief role during this important time," City Manager Jeff Barton said Friday in a statement.

  • Barton said he would hire an interim chief to serve through the investigation and then conduct a nationwide search for a permanent chief.

Details: After arriving in Baltimore in 2019, Sullivan was tasked with bringing the agency into compliance with mandates of its federal consent decree, a court-enforceable agreement to resolve the DOJ's findings from its 2017 investigation into BPD, according to a statement from Phoenix.

Flashback: Before Friday's announcement, Phoenix refused to share any details about how it was recruiting, who had applied or when it would announce the new interim chief.

Barton said in the statement he's "committed to providing transparent and inclusive public engagement in the search for a permanent chief" with input from community, officers, elected officials and labor groups.

  • Asked why it didn't conduct a similar public process for the interim position — which will lead the department for up to two years — the city said in a statement "there was an immediate need" for someone with "a specific set of qualifications" to lead the city through the DOJ probe.

What they're saying: “While PLEA was not afforded the opportunity to be a stakeholder in the process, we are committed to a collaborative and positive working relationship with Chief Sullivan. We look forward to meeting him in person very soon to discuss the pressing issues facing the department," Darrell Kriplean, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said in a statement to Axios.

Of note: Both Barton and Sullivan said they wouldn't talk with members of the media until September.

  • Mayor Kate Gallego directed all questions to Barton.

What's next: The city council does not have to approve Sullivan's temporary employment but will vote on his contract in the coming weeks, the city said.

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