CLEVELAND — During a Cleveland police awards ceremony on Thursday, Chief Calvin Williams announced he is stepping down.
Williams told his officers during the ceremony, "This is my last official act as a chief of this division. I'm going to miss you guys. I'm going to miss you because you do a great job. You make us proud. And you get out there and you do a great job for us day in and day out and people don't realize how hard it is. But I do. And I thank you for that. I appreciate that."
He continued, "The people have sacrificed their lives for this job. But I don't think a lot of us realize that I don't think the public realizes what we go through in our careers. I definitely want to thank you."
At the awards ceremony Thursday, Williams said that he had discussed with Mayor Frank Jackson that he would step down if Jackson chose not to seek re-election.
Williams said his decision to step down came "this summer, when the mayor announced that he would not run. Actually, on a Zoom call that we were doing for a citizen engagement call. And I talked to him after that and basically said, if you're not running mayor, I'm out the door with you. And I meant that. And I only told a few folks, some of our command staff, of course, my family, some close friends, you know that if this mayor wasn't going to be sitting in that seat in 2022."
Williams joined the department in 1986 and served on SWAT team, as a liaison to the U.S. Marshals Service and was promoted to deputy chief of field operations in 2011. He became the department's 40th chief of police in 2014.
"Since 2014, when I became chief, we've been through some trying times," Williams said. "We've also been through some great, sometimes hilarious, but momentous times here in this city together, from our Cavs parade, which I look at a picture right behind my desk of the full breadth of the parade and our folks out there, and all that wine and gold and the mass of humanity and how hard and long that day was for the people that were here — but how satisfying. So if you miss that, you missed a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was great. You guys performed exemplary as usual, even in the face of millions."
Williams' last day will be Jan. 3, 2022.
This isn't the first time Williams stepped away from the Cleveland Division of Police. Williams retired in October 2018, only to be rehired as Chief of Police by Mayor Jackson two days later, a move that allowed Williams to collect his salary and pension at the same time.
Williams' announcement this week came just two days after Justin Bibb won the mayoral office in a landslide victory against Cleveland Councilman Kevin Kelley. Bibb told News 5 months ago that he would fire Williams if he won the election and would initiate a local and national search for the next police chief.
After Williams made the announcement Thursday, Bibb released the following statement: "I want to thank Chief Calvin Williams for his years of service and wish him a happy retirement. I look forward to selecting a new chief.”
Rob Render, president of the East 128 Street Block Club told News he's confident Bibb would do a good job in picking the next police chief, and said he's hoping the cities new chief would be selected from within the department.
“The next police chief has to have empathy," Render said. "They really have to understand the depth, the breath, the scope and the length of the problems that have been historic.”
“They have to first of all have wealth of experience and understand the dynamics of this city. If you’re going to be successful, you got to understand the history of the city. This person has to be people oriented, has to be willing to listen.”
“Yes, they have to have the full support of the police department, the rank-and-file, but you also have to have the support of the citizenry.”
Pastor Aaron Phillips, President of the Cleveland Clergy Coalition believes the next police chief need to continue to reduce use-of-force complaints.
"Making sure that we have a chief of police who understands that we have to have community engagement," Pastor Phillips said.
“In my estimation what should be the number one criteria, making sure that the next police chief is holding police officers accountable.”
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