Jeri Williams, Police Chief of Phoenix
When Jeri first began police work, she, “like many police recruits, did not find the academy to be easy. ‘It was a lot of hard work,' she says, and remembers now that receiving her badge felt like a reward for all of the physical and mental effort. 'My mother pinned my badge on me,' she says. 'She has always been my role model. She always told me I could do anything.'” After earning her undergraduate degree at Arizona State, Jeri applied to be a flight attendant with Pan American Airlines, at the time her first-choice job. She did not proceed past the first screening interview because, in the words of an interviewer, based on a measurement taken of her elbows and wrists she was "too heavy to be a Pan Am girl". Despite the disappointment of that experience, Jeri continued her job search undeterred. When she saw an advertisement for police department openings, she was intrigued by the daily variety of work it offered and the department's promise of equal pay for women.
Today, Jeri is the first female chief and second African American chief in the history of the Phoenix Police Department. In her role, she oversees the largest police department in Arizona and protects the 6th largest city in the United States. In addition, Jeri leads a department of 2,900 police officers and 900 civilian staff. She was appointed last year by President Obama to membership on the Medal of Valor Review Board.
Police Mag & NYTimes, edited for clarity, Photograph via City of Phoenix