Palm Springs, CA

Acting Police Chief Desmarais won’t seek the role permanently

The Palm Springs Post
Acting Police Chief Melissa Desmarais, seen speaking at a September 11 ceremony on Saturday.The Palm Springs Post

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 Police 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. “We hope to enter final stages of selection later this month.”

Reyes, who served the city for 27 years, announced his retirement in May.

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