DAILY BRIEFING: November 9, 2021

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, November 9. Expect mostly sunny skies today, with a high of 83 degrees. First, some news you need to know …

Day 1 for city’s new police chief starts with credit to staff and predecessor, reflection on the role of police

Palm Springs’ new chief of police started his first day on the job Monday much like you or I would: “I signed on to the computer system and promptly lost my password,” he said.

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Thankfully, Police Chief Andrew Mills reported that he had “Mr. Tech” to lean on, quickly resolving the issue.

“Mr. Tech” is Lt. William Hutchinson, a 23-year veteran of the city’s police force who has seen his share of recruits and was more than happy to help this one. The technical assistance followed Mills’ first order of business: Having coffee with Acting Police Chief Melissa Desmarais, who replaced retired Chief Bryan Reyes this summer.

Making sure he returns the favor by supporting command staff members such as Hutchinson, Desmarais, and Capt. Mike Kovaleff, as well as every officer on patrol in Palm Springs, will be among Mills’ priorities as he settles into his new role.

“I’m not cleaning house,” he said during a media meet-and-greet in his office late Monday morning. “I give immense credit to Melissa and Mike. They did an amazing job getting ready for this process and carrying on Bryan’s legacy.”

Reyes spent more than two decades with the police department. He is often credited with not just bringing positive changes to the department, but also improving the bond between police and the community. You wouldn’t blame Mills if he was nervous as he makes his initial rounds in the city, shaking hands, introducing his wife, and listening to citizens he will be sworn to protect after a City Council ceremony later this month.

He has little to sweat based on his welcome Monday morning and during the city’s annual Pride parade Sunday.

Police Chief Andrew Mills meets with members of the local media in his office Monday.

“I walked into this great reception,” he said of the moment he entered police headquarters off South Civic Drive. “I’ve had a lot of very sincere welcomes. But the proof is in the pudding on all that.”

Mills comes to Palm Springs from Santa Cruz, where he had led that police department starting in 2017. Before Santa Cruz, he served four years as chief of police in Eureka. He began his career in 1983 as a patrol officer with the San Diego Police Department, rising to the rank of captain and commanding officer in 2011 and overseeing the San Diego Police Department’s Western and Eastern divisions.

The chief’s job, and the job of all in law enforcement, is likely tougher today than it would have been when he started in San Diego. Crime rates are on the rise throughout the country, and it’s being noticed. Gone are the days in Palm Springs where you could leave a bicycle parked unlocked while grabbing coffee. At the same time, officers called upon to find those bicycles when they are stolen are also tasked with being on the front lines of the battle against homelessness and addiction — all while policing 95 square miles of the desert while the department is understaffed.

Mills said it’s easy to see why nerves would be on edge in any American city. He hopes to take a long-term look at crime data here, pick out times when the crime rate was high and when it was low, learn what led to spikes, and replicate what worked to quell them.

“In any five-year period, if you look month-by-month, it will seem like an EKG chart,” Mills said of crime rate charts. “For the average person, they see the chaos, and it makes them uncomfortable.

“It’s a very emotional issue. But you can’t have an emotional argument with data.”

Mills will take two essential emotions into his role: empathy and a sense of duty.

Among family photos and memorabilia collected during his years in service, he proudly points to a pair of Norman Rockwell prints hanging on the wall of his new office. “The Runaway” shows a child at a lunch counter with an officer and radiates the comfort and safety police can offer; “The Problem We All Live With” shows four deputy U.S. marshals shepherding 6-year-old Ruby Bridges to school after threats of violence against her.

“It would be nice if things were simpler like they were in the 1950s,” he said. “Policing has changed forever since those days. But the point of the job is still to support justice. I feel strongly about those paintings. That’s why they’re here in my office.”


BRIEFLY

The Fall Edition of the Modernism Show & Sale set a new attendance record.

ATTENDANCE RECORD: The 7th annual Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale – Fall Edition, held during Modernism Week’s Fall Preview, set a new attendance record for the October show, it was announced Monday. On Saturday and Sunday more than 2,000 people attended the show. The Friday evening Early Buying Preview Reception had 500 attendees, also a new record. The overall attendance was up 25 percent from the last Fall Edition Show held in 2019. In addition, strong dealer sales were reported across the board at the show. The 2020 event was not held due to the pandemic. READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

TENNIS BENEFIT: AAP – Food Samaritans (AAP) announced Monday that the Desert Tennis Association will continue its long-time support of AAP by donating the proceeds from the upcoming Palm Springs Open to AAP to support its food voucher program for low-income Coachella Valley residents living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. The Palm Springs Open is an international tennis tournament run by the DTA that attracts more than 300 LGBTQ players from around the world. DTA is a non-profit corporation that organizes tennis events for the LGBTQ community in the Coachella Valley and raises funds for local charities. The tournament is free to the public, and the proceeds from a silent auction will benefit AAP. Since 2001, the Desert Tennis Association is proud to have donated more than $100,000 to AAP – Food Samaritans. READ THE FULL STORY HERE.


COMMUNITY CALENDAR

MIZELL EVENTS: A computer tutor, dance classes, and a better brain and balance class are among the offerings today at Mizell Center , starting at 8 AM. The center is located at 480 S. Sunrise Way. You can find a complete list of everything offered today online here.

SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters meets for coffee at Koffi, 650 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, today at 8 AM. You can sign up to be part of the group, formed to help women make new connections and friendships, on Meetup here.

WALK OF STARS: Michael Bush, an accomplished and inventive pop culture designer in the world of pop culture, is honored with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars at 11 AM. Bush, alongside his late partner and co-designer, Dennis Tompkins, custom-designed outfits for Michael Jackson for nearly a quarter of a century. He also designed costumes for Britney Spears. The star will be dedicated at 205 South Palm Canyon Drive.

SUSTAINABILITY SUBCOMMITTEE: The city Sustainability Commission’s Standing Subcommittee on Solar and Green Building meets today at 9:30 AM via Zoom. More information about that meeting, as well as an agenda, can be found here.

LIBRARY CRAFTS: Adults are invited to create a ‘Thankful Box’ to use at holiday gatherings or as a personal reminder. You can watch Palm Springs Public Library’s how-to video on the library’s YouTube channel (the video should be uploaded by 10 AM), and pick up materials for the project at the library, located at 300 South Sunrise Way.

VILLAGEFEST BOARD: The city’s VillageFest board meets at 5:30 PM. More information about that meeting, including an agenda, can be found here.

PALM SPRINGS SCHOOL BOARD: The Palm Springs Unified School District Board of Directors meets at 6 PM at the District Administration Center Board Room, 150 District Center Dr. A complete agenda can be found here


ONGOING & UPCOMING

DOG PARK CLOSURE: The Palm Springs Dog Park behind City Hall will close for annual maintenance this week. The park, located at 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, will close starting Thursday for seeding and maintenance and is anticipated to reopen on December 20. The Demuth Dog Park, located at 4200 E. Mesquite Ave., will be open seven days a week from dawn until dusk.

UPCOMING RUNS: Registration for both The 10th Annual Run for Ike 5K and the annual Wild Turkey Trot 5K is open now at runpalmsprings.com, as well as active.com and racewire.com. The Run for Ike 5K happens Saturday, November 13 at 8 AM and is held in memory of Palm Springs Police Department K9 officer Ike, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011. The event starts at the Police Department, 200 South Civic Drive. The annual Turkey Trot is Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25, at 8 AM, and offers entrants a chance to get in some exercise before Thanksgiving dinner. That event starts at 100 North Palm Canyon Drive. Registrants for the events receive T-shirts, medals, and more. Both runs benefit local charities. Questions? Feel free to contact Molly Thorpe, the race director, at [email protected] or 760-413-6508

WELLNESS SUMMIT: Brothers of the Desert is conducting its third annual wellness summit focusing on Black gay men and their allies in the Coachella Valley and beyond in-person (and virtually) on Saturday, November 13, at Margaritaville Resort in Palm Springs, 1600 North Indian Canyon Drive. The one-day event runs from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM. Registration for the event is available here.

TALK OF THE TOWN: The next installment of the popular Talk of the Town series, presented by ONE-PS, is coming up on Tuesday, November 16. ONE-PS invites the community to join Julie Warren and David Gray, co-founders of The LGBTQ+ History & Archives of the Desert, as they speak about the rich and deep fabric of our shared LGBTQ+ history. Also joining during the discussion will be Palm Springs Pride President & CEO Ron De Harte, who will share news about the establishment of an LGBTQ+ Wall Of Honor and monument. More information is available at the Facebook event page here.

SPEAKER SERIES: The next event in the 3rd Wednesday Speakers Series is November 17 at 5:30 PM at Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way. A screening of L.A. A Queer History – Where It All Began, a film by Gregorio Davila, will precede a talk with the filmmaker moderated by Brian Blueskye, The Desert Sun’s arts and culture reporter. The screening is a free event. More information is available here.

DESERT JAM: The annual benefit for Palm Springs-based Well in the Desert — Desert Jam 2021: Jammin’ for the Well — is slated for Monday, December 6 at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino ballroom in Rancho Mirage at 6 PM. The Jackson-Garrett Band and a host of other musicians are slated to perform, with Jeanie Cunningham serving as masters of ceremonies. Aside from the music, attendees can expect dinner, live and silent auctions, and a special tribute honoring jazz singer Yve Evans. All proceeds benefit The Well’s work to feed and provide for those experiencing homelessness in our community. More information, including how to purchase tickets for the event can be found here or by calling 760-285-7297.

POLICE AND FIRE EVENT: The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce is taking reservations for its annual Police & Fire Appreciation Luncheon, held Tuesday, December 7, from 11:30 AM until 1 PM at the Palm Springs Convention Center. More information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities is available here.

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