The city of Palm Springs will soon have a new top cop.
38-year law enforcement veteran Andrew Mills was named as the new Chief of Police Tuesday. Mills is currently serving as Chief of Police in Santa Cruz.
Mills said in an interview with News Channel 3 he's excited to get to know the community and the people of Palm Springs.
"It is a... very thoughtful police agency that does a phenomenal job," he said. "I think people no need to know exactly what the chief believes, be willing to approach the chief and tell them what they think. And, so virtually everybody will have my cell phone."
Mills was hired as an agent of change in Santa Cruz, according to a Palm Springs press release, reportedly helping to move the department toward a culture of community policing and greater transparency.
PSPD spokesman Lt. William Hutchinson said Mills brings experience with similar Palm Springs issues.
"He comes from similar cities with similar problems in places where homelessness is an issue and tourism," he said. But with Mills coming as an outsider to the city, Hutchinson said there's going to be a steep learning curve.
"Being an outside candidate... they don't know the culture, they don't know the city. So he's got a lot of relationship building and a lot of time he's gonna have to spend really getting to know the dynamics of Palm Springs," Hutchinson said.
Some of the existing staff at PSPD were considered for the role, but ultimately were not chosen. Interim Chief Melissa Desmerais did not apply.
City Manager Justin Clifton called Mills the clear "top performer."
And in the extensive search, the city surveyed residents and department employees, getting back more than 500 responses.
The majority said they were looking for a police chief that's trustworthy and transparent – nearly 70 percent. Most also were looking for integrity and a strong leader who can motivate the department's staff.
At the bottom of the community's priorities list, only 14 percent said they wanted someone who held current leadership already within PSPD.
Mills said he's ready to embrace policing in Palm Springs. "I'm gonna come in and listen," he said.
Mills is expected to start his new job in Palm Springs early next month.