Palm Springs Police Department Capt. Melissa Desmarais has been named the department’s acting chief, the city announced today. She replaces Police Chief Bryan Reyes, who is retiring.
The move will become official on Thursday and provides police department leadership while the city conducts a nationwide search for Reyes’ replacement. Reyes, who served 27 years with the city, announced his retirement earlier this year.
“We are fortunate to have a great leader with a proven track record in Captain Desmarais that can step up to serve as Acting Chief while we remain in the recruitment phase for a permanent replacement to chief Reyes,” City Manager Justin Clifton said in a prepared statement. “I’m confident that the police team and the broader community are in good hands with Desmarais in this role.”
Desmarais began her law enforcement career in the city in 2002. She has served as a patrol officer, airport officer, field training officer, and traffic field training officer. She was the first female in the department’s 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 also served as the department’s liaison to Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS). Desmarais was promoted to Police Captain in June 2018 and currently oversees the department’s Support Services Division.
In 2012, while Desmarais was a sergeant, she received the Athena Award, a community service award presented by the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce. In 2007 she was awarded the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce’s Peace Officers and Public Safety “Service to Youth Award” for her work with the Palm Springs Police Explorer Program. Her peers also selected her as 2007 “Officer of the Year.”
“I am honored to have the opportunity to represent the men and women of the Palm Springs Police Department,” Desmarais said in the statement, “and look forward to working collaboratively with the community and city during this period of transition.”