CLEVELAND (WJW)– Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams is stepping down. His last day will be Jan. 3.
He made the announcement during a police awards ceremony on Thursday. He thanked Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who revealed he would not seek a fifth term in May, and struggled through tears.
“I really didn’t want to get emotional because there’s a lot I want to say… If you’re not running, mayor, I’m out the door with you,” Williams said.
“This is my last official act as the 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. And people don’t realize how hard it is, but I do.”
“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.”
Williams, who began his career with the Cleveland Division of Police in 1986, was named chief in February 2014. While working his way up the ranks, he served as a member of the SWAT unit, supervisor of the vice unit and liaison to the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force.
During his time as chief, Williams faced tough questions about the city’s violent crime rate and police pursuit policies.
While usually appearing calm and stoic, Williams often showed emotion when violence claimed young lives. He broke down in tears following the 2015 shooting death of 5-month-old Aavielle Wakefield.
Williams gained widespread praise during the 2016 Republican National Convention when he traded in his white commander uniform for a bicycle. He greeted protesters and paused for prayers, while keeping close watch on the crowds.
He was also in the middle of the action following the Cleveland Cavaliers championship celebration immediately after Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Williams called it a satisfying day during his speech on Thursday.
Williams initially retired in November 2018 and was rehired two days later, allowing him to collect a pension and his salary.
On Tuesday, the city of Cleveland elected a new mayor: 34-year-old nonprofit leader Justin Bibb.
“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,” Bibb said in a statement.