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What we know about the search for Cleveland's next police chief

Cleveland police
Posted at 6:45 PM, Nov 05, 2021

CLEVELAND — With Thursday's announcement that Cleveland's police chief plans to step down at the beginning of the new year, the clock is ticketing for the city's mayor-elect to find Cleveland's 41st police chief.

Under Cleveland's charter, the city's mayor is responsible for appointing a police chief.

Current Chief Calvin Williams said he will step down and leave the department January 3, 2022, the day Justin Bibb is scheduled to be sworn-in as Cleveland mayor.

RELATED: Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams says he's stepping down

When asked about the process Bibb plans to use to select the next chief, a campaign spokesperson wrote Friday, "We'll be able to speak to that more in the coming weeks and months."

But here's what we know so far.

Last summer, Bibb said if elected he'd replace Williams as chief, citing what Bibb called a problem with morale inside the ranks.

"Change the culture and make sure we have a culture where cops can show up every day and do good police work," said Bibb at the time.

The mayor-elect said on the campaign trail that he wants fewer officers behind desks and more on Cleveland's streets.

Bibb also pitched a plan to have mental health professionals respond with police on non-violent calls.

He also said he doesn't want to limit his search for the next chief.

"I want to look locally, but also nationally for the right talent to make sure we can truly be a model of good policing all across this city," said Bibb last summer.

But a national search could come at a cost.

In 2019, when Cuyahoga County was looking for a new sheriff, the board of control approved a $32,000 contract with a search firm to look nationally for candidates.

Ultimately, David Schilling, a sergeant from the sheriff's department, was appointed sheriff.

On Friday, the chair of the city council's safety committee, and likely next council president Blaine Griffin, called safety the most-important issue facing the city.

RELATED: Pledging change and transparency, Councilman Griffin named new president of Cleveland City Council

However, Griffin said he did not want to set standards for what the new mayor should or shouldn't do in the search for a chief.

"I'd be willing to give him any advice," said Griffin. "He has a good group of people around him that helped him get elected and that are going to be part of his transition team and I'll leave that decision up to them. The only thing I'd ask is that this council, we're going to hold everybody accountable."