Amid criticism over the handling of a recent string of fatal police shootings, Vallejo has selected a new chief to steer its embattled police department.
The city on Friday announced its selection of Shawny Williams to fill the role. Pending completion of a background check, he'll become the first black chief in the department’s history.
Williams has served in the San Jose Police Department for more than 26 years. Since becoming deputy chief in 2015, he has run the department's 190-person bureau of investigations. Williams holds a master's degree in organizational leadership and speaks Spanish fluently.
"Deputy Chief Williams is a solid professional with a stellar reputation who received broad accolades from our interview panels," said Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff in a press release. "I am excited to have Chief Williams join our community and our leadership team. As 'Vallejo Unites' around our youth, our local job producing economic development opportunities, and our Police Department, I believe Chief Williams will be a very positive element in our future success."
Williams, who is expected to start in November, will oversee a department of 173 full-time employees and 120 sworn officers. He will earn an annual base salary of up to $261,600, according to the city.
Williams' appointment comes just months after the retirement of Chief Andrew Bidou, who stepped down in April following a string of high-profile shootings of several black and brown men in the city.
In particular, the department has faced intense scrutiny in response to the February killing of Willie McCoy, whom Vallejo police shot 55 times after finding the 20-year-old unconscious in a Taco Bell parking lot. McCoy's family and other residents have repeatedly staged angry demonstrations at City Hall to protest the department's handling of the incident, demanding greater accountability.
"I am humbled and honored by this opportunity to serve as your new Police Chief in Vallejo," Williams said in a press release. "The position of police officer belongs to the people we serve. With that philosophy in mind, I look forward to participating in all aspects of the Vallejo community, building upon the Police Department's community policing and engagement efforts, and tackling challenges together. We must engage the hearts and minds of all residents, City employees, students, youth and the business leaders."
Some community advocates, however, have been critical of the hiring process, accusing the city of not following through on its promise to be more transparent.