RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – A former Cleveland police chief has started a new job in Richmond Heights.
Calvin Williams is now the interim chief of the department. He is replacing former Police Chief Tom Wetzel, who retired March 7.
“I am trying to get use to it again,” Williams said with a laugh. “This is only my second day.”
He retired from Cleveland in January 2022. He started in Richmond Heights earlier this week.
“It’s different from Cleveland, but there are similarities,” Williams said. “We are all tasked with doing a difficult job — whether it is difficult every single day or every week and half, it’s still policing.”
He says he doesn’t plan on making any major changes right now.
“They know what they are doing out here,” Williams said. “They have a good group of folks.”
Williams, who began his career with the Cleveland Division of Police in 1986, was named chief there 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 five-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.
Following the convention, he told I-Team reporter Ed Gallek he did not plan to be chief anywhere else but Cleveland.
The chief also said that the death of officers while on-duty, as well as the police-involved shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, were some of his toughest days as the leader of the Cleveland police department.
Wetzel made his mark trying to bridge the gap between Richmond Heights police and the community. He often took part in community events, bringing officers and residents together in fun settings like roller rinks. Williams says he plans to continue those programs and maybe even add a few more.
If after 90 days Williams decides he wants the job permanently, he can then apply for the position.
For right now, he is just focused on meeting those who live and work in Richmond Heights.
“I am glad to be here,” Williams said.