[Watch previous coverage of Richmond Heights Police Department in the player above.]
On Tuesday, March 7, current Richmond Heights Police Chief Tom Wetzel is retiring.
Mayor Kim Thomas confirmed to the I-Team Williams will take over as police chief, at least temporarily.
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 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. Following the convention, he told I-Team reporter Ed Gallek he did not plan to be chief anywhere else but Cleveland.
The chief also told I-Team reporter Peggy Gallek in 2021 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.
Outgoing Chief 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.