As the search for Palm Springs’ next police chief continues, one person who reportedly won’t be in the running is Acting Police Chief Melissa Desmarais.
Desmarais, a captain who has been serving in the chief’s role since the retirement of Bryan Reyes in mid-August, said she would not seek to fill the position permanently.
“After a significant amount of consideration, I have decided that I am not currently in a position to pursue the role,” she wrote in an email to one supporter last month.
Desmarais began her law enforcement career in the city in 2002 and has served as a patrol officer, airport officer, field training officer, and traffic field training officer. She was the first female in department history to become a motorcycle officer. In July 2010, Desmarais was promoted to sergeant, becoming the department’s first female sergeant. She made department history again in August 2015 when she was promoted to lieutenant and supervised the Downtown Community Resource Officers.
As a lieutenant, she served as the department’s liaison to Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS). Desmarais was promoted to captain in June 2018 and currently oversees the department’s Support Services Division. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Athena Award, presented to her by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce in 2012.
The news that she would not seek to permanently fill the role of chief came as a disappointment to many, including those who were preparing to mount a campaign to voice their support for her. Those supporters said they now hope city officials will consider another Palm Springs Police Department veteran, Capt. Mike Kovaleff.
City Manager Justin Clifton said Monday that he could not comment on exactly who a review committee is interviewing for the chief of police role, either internal or external. Still, he said by email, “We are making good progress on our selection process.”
“We have conducted a couple of rounds of preliminary screening and interviews,” he wrote, later adding that more than 40 candidates applied. “We hope to enter final stages of selection later this month.”
Reyes, who served the city for 27 years, announced his retirement in May.
Let’s Talk Community News
On September 21, you’re invited to join the editor of The Palm Springs Post and the publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent at Talk of the Town, presented by ONE-PS. The timely and informative virtual session starts at 5:30 PM and will focus on how independent publishers are working to build personal connections in their Coachella Valley communities by bringing them local news.
MIDDLETON APPOINTED: Palm Springs Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton is among the appointees to the California Transgender Advisory Council, whose formation was announced Monday. Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said she created the Transgender Advisory Council to bring attention to the issues faced by the transgender community and “bring more understanding of the community.” It is believed to be the first in the nation, according to Kounalakis. “At a time when so many political leaders see transgender Americans as a political opportunity to exploit and target, Lt. Gov. Kounalakis is reaching out to help, integrate and provide opportunity,” Middleton said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues within California’s transgender community and the lieutenant governor to advance employment, housing, and health care opportunity and equity for all Californians.”
MAYOR BLASTS SHERIFF: Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege is taking issue with Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, who issued a statement Monday saying he would not enforce mandated vaccinations of Sheriff’s Department employees. “[Y]ou say you’re committed to public safety, and yet your comments about the COVID-19 vaccine are reckless,” Holstege wrote on Twitter in reply to the Sheriff’s statement. “As public servants, our job is to protect public health — instead, you spew misinformation that endangers us all.” Bianco issued his statement in defense of what he said would be news reports that were “nothing but sensationalism trying to gain readership and further divide us as Americans.” The news reports were in response to remarks he made about COVID-19 vaccines on a recent podcast. Bianco went on to say, “I am certainly not anti-vaccine. I am anti-vaccine for me.” Bianco, his wife, and his children all tested positive for COVID-19 in January.
SEASON PREMIERE: PromoHomo.TV launches its Fall 2021 season today with the series premiere of Life Positive, inspired by producer/host Nicholas Snow’s living-powerfully-with-HIV memoir, Life Positive: A Journey to the Center of My Heart. Life Positive the series is described as “Spotlighting people living with, impacted by, and/or working to bring about the end of HIV/AIDS.” In the series premiere, viewers learn about the Aging Positively — Reunion Project, an annual (and this year virtual) conference built around the theme of HIV and aging. Also, Snow gets up close and personal with advocate and activist Brett Klein; examines how the organization PALS helps LGBTQ seniors prepare for the future; and shares news of research at DAP Health in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
SCHOOL COVID: As of this morning, the Palm Springs Unified School District is reporting 38 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. Schools in Palm Springs account for 10 of those cases, including eight among students and two among staff. The most cases reported at any city school were at Palm Springs High School, where four cases were reports, including three among students and one among staff.
RECALL ELECTION: Today is the last day to vote in California’s Gubernatorial Recall Election. Aside from mailing in ballots, voters can drop them off at Palm Springs City Hall, 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, or at the James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, 480 Tramview Rd. In-person voting is open from 7 AM until 8 PM at City Hall, the Unity Center, and Demuth Community Center, 3601 E. Mesquite Ave. More information is available here.
DESERT HEALTHCARE: Multiple meetings of the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation take place today. All of them are via Zoom. For a complete list of the meetings, including participation and viewing instructions, click here.
MIZELL EVENTS: Wii bowling, a laughter clinic, and intermediate Spanish are among multiple offerings today at the Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way. For more information about all of today’s offerings, click here.
HAPPY HOUR: The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters hold a happy hour at 5 PM at Lulu California Bistro, 222 S. Palm Canyon Dr. You can sign up to be part of the group, formed to help women make new connections and friendships, on Meetup here.
ONE-PS: The Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) monthly membership meeting begins at 5:30 PM. More information about the meeting, which is held via Zoom, can be found here.
MEASURE J: The city’s Measure J Commission holds its regular meeting at 5:30 PM via Zoom. A complete agenda and participation and viewing instructions are available here.
SITE PRESERVATION: The city’s Historic Site Preservation Board meets at 5:30 PM via Zoom. A complete agenda and viewing and participation instructions are available here.
PUBLIC HEARING: The Palm Springs Unified School District has scheduled a public hearing of the Board of Education for 6 PM during its regular meeting. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the adoption public textbooks and instructional materials compliance for fiscal year 2021-2022. The hearing will take place at district headquarters, 150 District Center Dr.
HUNGER ACTION: FIND Food Bank is engaging with the public through fundraising and awareness events this month in an effort to leave no local resident hungry. Multiple Palm Springs businesses are participating. For more information about all local events this month, go here.
LIBRARY CARD DRIVE: The Palm Springs Public Library is running its annual library card drive during the month of September. Library cards are free to residents of California and offer many advantages other than being able to reserve and check out books. Ready for a library card? Just head to this site to register.
PEDESTRIAN SAFETY: The Palm Springs Police Department will increase patrols throughout September to crack down on driving violations that put pedestrians at risk. As part of Pedestrian Safety Month, police will be searching for violations such as failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, illegal turns, failing to stop at stop signs or signals, and speeding.
FILM FESTIVAL: All-access passes, six-packs, and individual tickets are now on sale for Cinema Diverse: The Palm Springs LGBTQ+ Film Festival, held September 16 through 30 at the Historic Camelot Theatres at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2100 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. Complete information about tickets for this year’s event can be found here.
TRAM CLOSED: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed for its annual maintenance. If all goes well, it should reopen on October 4.
Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? See below for calendars, meeting agendas, and links to all city services, police reports, code enforcement reports, and more: