Phoenix names interim police chief to lead department through DOJ investigation

July 29, 2022
Kevin Stone

PHOENIX - A law enforcement veteran with police reform experience will serve as interim chief of the Phoenix Police Department through the completion of an ongoing federal civil rights investigation, the city announced Friday.

Michael Sullivan will take over for Jeri Williams, who announced her retirement nearly three months ago, on Sept. 12, the city said in a press release. Williams, who was appointed as Phoenix chief in October 2016, will stay on through the transition period.

“Sullivan brings 27 years of law enforcement experience to the table, and he has led police reform efforts for major cities,” City Manager Jeff Barton, who led the search, said in the release.

“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.”

Sullivan’s tenure is expected to last 1-2 years, by which time the Department of Justice investigation into potential civil rights violations and abuses of power by the police department is expected to be completed. The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division announced the investigation in August 2021.

The city will then hold a nationwide search, including internal candidates, for a permanent chief. The interim search focused on external candidates with experience dealing with the Department of Justice.

“I am committed to providing transparent and inclusive public engagement in the search for a permanent chief,” Barton said. “Input from our community, officers, elected officials, and labor groups will be critical to the selection process.”

Sullivan spent more than two decades with the Louisville Metro Police Department, working his way up to deputy chief/chief of staff, according to a bio supplied by the city of Phoenix.

He was recruited in June 2019 to the Baltimore Police Department, where he served in multiple roles, most recently as commander of the compliance bureau.

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