He leaves with mixed emotions, but learned from an admiring council that he’ll always be welcomed back into town. “I’m going to miss this place,” said Miller about the city he served for 5 ½ years. “It’s truly special.”
Along with a goodbye reception in mid-August at the War Memorial Building in South Pasadena, joined by family members and fellow officers, Miller was also honored by local council members during their recent regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall.
“I really loved working here,” he explained, noting that he and his wife, Linda, made the decision a couple of years ago to move to Arizona and make it a place they would retire. “I never in my wildest dreams believed the city in which we live (Peoria) would have a vacancy for chief, but it came about.”
Miller made the decision to apply, was selected among four finalists and interviewed extensively before landing the job. He’ll be sworn in September 4 and take over the department the following day.
Admittedly, it’s difficult to say goodbye – to say goodbye to a city he considered working in another couple of years before settling into retirement. “I have no reservations in saying how much I love it here in South Pasadena,” said Miller, who is being replaced in the short term at least by acting chief Brian Solinsky. “It’s a wonderful community and know it won’t be easy leaving.”
He plans to enhance community-policing efforts already in Peoria as he hopes to bring the police department and the public closer to help identify and address crime issues. He said the strategy of focusing on building ties and working closely with members of the community has been successful in South Pasadena and looks to take it to a new level in Peoria.
“I was hired to move that forward,” he explained. “I was very fortunate to bring some examples from South Pasadena (during the interview process). I think it will be a perfect fit in Peoria.”
Before slipping out the door and heading off to his new place of employment, the City Council took turns in wishing the outgoing chief well in his new assignment. Councilmember Robert Joe said, “We appreciate and applaud you and Linda’s contributions to South Pasadena. The city and its citizens will forever be grateful for your service.”
Noting when she was mayor in 2014, current Mayor Pro Tem Marina Khubesrian learned to appreciate Miller’s proactive approach “to getting things done…His level headed approach to community oriented police work (is great),” she said. “Thank you, and I’m grateful for the 5 1/2 years we’ve had with you.”
Councilmember Diana Mahmud called the departing police chief “a class act,” pointing out that those wearing South Pasadena Police Department uniforms were well trained under Miller’s guidance. “I think you have done an exemplary job of raising the professionalism of the police officers.”
She also praised Miller and Linda for attending many social events, adding, “You have been a wonderful tag team.”
In his 17 years on the council, Councilmember Michael Cacciotti has welcomed several police chiefs, noting that Miller was among the best. He praised the departing chief for increasing the respect for the local police department throughout the region and state.
“Thank you for all that you have done for our department,” he said, reminding the public what Miller would often say in public: ‘We may be small, but do big things.’”
Last to speak on Miller’s contributions was Mayor Dr. Richard Schneider, who added: “Chief and Linda, I think you can tell by the comments, what high regard the City Council and the city maintains for you. They’ve said it many times, many ways, we really appreciate your service and you will be sorely missed. So, good luck in your future. Come back whenever you can. We’re going to really miss you.”
A humble Miller had the final say before the council moved on with the agenda. “I accept, on behalf of our department, all your kind words,” he said, as a large group of police officers stood in back of the room to honor the former chief. “Thank you so much. I’m only the figurehead leader of this organization. But the men and women back here are the ones doing all the work. They listen to my crazy ideas and put them in place. That’s who get things done. I’m very honored to have served here.”