CLEVELAND — Cleveland Chief of Police Calvin Williams announced his resignation Thursday at a police award ceremony following a 35-year career with the department. 

What You Need To Know

  • Chief Calvin Williams steps down from Cleveland’s Police Department after seven years

  • Williams joined the department in 1986 and has climbed the ranks in the years since

  • Williams says he decided to step aside when Mayor Frank Jackson announced his resignation

  • The next chief of police will have some of their powers weakened after this week’s passage of Issue 24

Williams was appointed chief of police in February 2014. He has remained chief during a time of change within the department, most notably following the implementation of a Department of Justice imposed consent decree. Williams said his last day will be Jan. 3.

While the consent decree was intended to increase police accountability, Cleveland residents on Tuesday said more was needed. More than 60% of voters approved Issue 24, which will fully give oversight of the police department to a new Community Police Commission. 

With Issue 24’s passage, much of the chief’s power to discipline officers will now rest with the Community Police Commission. 

Williams said his decision to resign came well before Issue 24’s passage. His decision, he said, came earlier in the year when 16-year Mayor Frank Jackson announced he would not seek reelection. 

“This summer, when the mayor announced he would not run, actually on a Zoom call we’re doing on a citizens engagement call, and I talked to him after that and basically said, ‘If you’re not running for mayor, I am out the door with you,” Williams said while fighting back tears. “I meant that. I only told a few folks over at our command staff, my family and close friends that if the mayor wasn’t sitting in that seat in 2022, I wouldn’t be sitting in the seat next to him.”

Williams called Thursday’s award ceremony his “last official act” as chief of police. 

“I will miss you guys,” Williams said. “I am going to miss you because you do a great job. You make us proud and you get out there and do a great job. People don’t realize how hard it is, but I do.”

He said later on Thursday he decided on his way to the ceremony to make the announcement.

“I actually just thought about it on my way walking over to the awards ceremony and I thought it would be appropriate to let our officers know, our police family know that Jan. 3rd is last day," he said. "And you know, got a little emotional but I love this city and love this division, and I thought it was appropriate in a room full of police officers and police officers families to let them know what my status is going into January.”

Mayor-elect Justin Bibb was a supporter of Issue 24 and will likely be tasked with finding Williams' replacement. 

"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.

Spectrum News 1 reporter Ryan Schmelz contributed to this report.