Monterey County Herald (California)
BYLINE: By JULIA REYNOLDS Herald Staff Writer
Salinas Deputy Police Chief Kelly McMillin, a driver in the city’s recent push toward community and intelligence-based policing, has been named by City Manager Ray Corpuz as his pick for new police chief.
“It’ll be a popular appointment,” Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said at a news conference Friday, “but it’s a smart appointment. Today, we got our man.”
McMillin, 48, has served 23 years with the Salinas department. He has been instrumental in forging state and national collaborations to fight gang violence in Salinas.
He has served as director of the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, and starting in 2009 was in charge of implementing the Ceasefire violence reduction strategy within the police department.
He holds a master’s degree in public administration from CSU Monterey Bay.
McMillin also represents the city in the White House-sponsored National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, and in April was named as one of President Barack Obama’s Champions of Change.
He will replace Acting Chief Cassie McSorley, who took over after Chief Louis Fetherolf stepped down last year for health reasons.
Corpuz said McMillin’s total compensation is still being negotiated, but said the salary will be in the advertised range of $180,000 to $204,000 per year.
McMillin is slated to be sworn in June 11.
He said he will spend his first days on the job meeting with officers.
“Very few good decisions are made in a vacuum,” he said. “I’m going to spend the next several weeks hearing from the department, to know what they think going forward.”
The search for a chief began in February with 40 applicants. After candidates faced panels of area police chiefs, city administrators and community members, the list was narrowed last month to McMillin, Marina Chief Eddie Rodriguez and Port Hueneme Chief Kathleen Sheehan.
Corpuz said he relied heavily on community input in making his final choice.
“It was clear that it was a call by the city as well as the city manager.”
He said the qualities he sought were leadership, integrity and “an understanding and belief in what I call our multi-dimensional peace strategy.”
At a public forum for the finalists last month, McMillin was pragmatic about the likelihood of Salinas police having to “economize even further” after several years of budget cuts diminished the city’s gang unit and cemented the city’s status as having one of the lowest officer-to-resident ratios in the nation.
To deal with the cuts, he said, the department’s increased collaboration with federal and state agencies has been critical to supplementing its staff.
“You didn’t see that a few years ago,” McMillin said. “We’ve been on that federal radar for a few years now.”
Regarding his department’s funding, he said he’ll be urging City Council members to hold the line on budget cuts.
“The first request has to be stop-loss … or we’ll become some would say are mission ineffective,” he said. “We’re on an unsustainable work course here. Over the long term, if the council believes that tactical, targeted, intelligence-driven enforcement is the way to go, I can only be effective if I have more police officers … I don’t think that’s lost on the council, but they’re facing the fiscal reality of just a lack of revenue coming into the city.”
He said it’s a question he’ll be posing to the people of Salinas: “What do you want to pay for?”
He faced impressive competition for the job, he said, but the fact he was hired from within the department shows that Corpuz and others are committed to the city’s public safety strategy, especially when it comes to community-based policing.
“When a chief officer selection is made, and that appointment comes from the outside, there is the sense that we need new vision, new leadership and new ideas,” he said. “I think when leadership comes from the inside, it’s because there’s a sense that things are going in a positive direction and you don’t really want to change that course.
“I think the way the department is oriented today, the kind of enforcement techniques that we’re employing successfully, as well as the way the department is reaching out into the community, is a very positive trajectory that simply needs to be pushed further forward and expanded. And I really believe that’s the basis of why I was selected to be the chief.”
· Kelly McMillin sits down for a question-and-answer session with The Herald
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