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Interim Police Chief Pledges to Work With, Listen to Community

Art Miller will remain the Interim South Pasadena Police Chief for an unspecified period of time, probably three to six months, before officials review his performance and make a permanent decision.

Over the crackle of police scanners, and to the background of a siren screaming by, Interim South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller told the crowd at City Hall Monday that it's through the community that he will work to accomplish the department's goals and objectives. 

"I want to create relationships [here] that made me seemingly successful at LAPD, and I did that by working through people,'' said Miller, who retired as a captain from the Los Angeles Police Department 11 months ago. 

Miller will hold the title "Interim Chief'' for an undesignated period of time, said City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. After three to six months, Gonzalez and city officials will evaluate Miller's performance. Currently, Miller is a full-time employee without a contract. 

The law enforcement veteran brings 34 years experience to South Pasadena's top cop position. At LAPD, Miller was in charge of LAPD’s Metropolitan, Southwest and Hollywood Divisions. He retired nearly a year ago. He hung up his uniform and "traveled and had fun and traveled and had fun,'' he said, with his wife, Linda. 

Last week, he pulled that same uniform out of the closet. Stripped it of its LAPD patches and affixed ones for South Pasadena. Turns out, both departments use the same base uniform. 

"He's saving us money already,'' Gonzalez quipped. 

Miller's appointment comes two and a half years after he first applied for the police chief position. At that time, over the rumblings of community members, then-City Manager John Davidson named Joe Payne chief of police. Payne had retired from the South Pasadena Police department in 2007, but some argued that he was not as qualified as some candidates, such as Miller.

Payne submitted his resignation letter last month, but not without controversey: He says he was asked to step down while Gonzalez maintains that Payne resigned.

On Monday, LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing related a story from more than a year ago, when he and Miller were dealing with a baricaded subject. Amid the action, Miller told Downing, "'I'm not ready to go. I have a lot more to give,''' Downing said.

Downing, who worked with Miller for 25 years, called the interim chief "a great american law enforcement executive,'' and added that Miller listens well and turns what he hears into action.

"I'm proud to call him my chief,'' the South Pasadena resident said.

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if this department is a 10, i want to make it a 10-plus. Whereever it is, I want to make it a little better after I leave. it's through the community that you will see me work to accoplish some of the goals and objectives for our department

i will be very much available to anyone who calls me and may have concerns

Betty Jean February 26, 2013 at 08:37 PM
"Interim Police Chief Pledges to Work With, Listen to Community " We will see.
Donna Evans (Editor) February 26, 2013 at 09:11 PM
What's something that you would like to see the new chief have on his to-do list, Betty Jean?
Betty Jean February 26, 2013 at 10:57 PM
What I've been saying for years and years, Donna. Crack down HARD on reckless driving in the city. Specifically speeding. Just the other day on my walk I witness kids trying to cross a small intersection while cars just flew on by not even waiting for them to cross completely. This happens 24/7. It's very common for people to drive 40 and over in the stated 25mph streets. We've complained to the city and SPPD at nauseum. All we get is lip service, blah blah blah. No one seems to truly listen or care. Pathetic!
henk friezer February 27, 2013 at 07:43 PM
The SPPD has conducted several pedestrian stings over the years, unfortunately it is impossible to station police at every crossing 24-7. Under the circumstances I have found that the department has been very responsive in trying to cope with this problem. Pedestrians should also be made aware that caution while crossing is the best safety measure and not take it for granted that every vehicle is going to stop, even having a cop stationed at key crossings will not resolve this issue. Pedestrians beware should be the rule of thumb!
Betty Jean February 27, 2013 at 09:52 PM
I can almost guarantee pedestrians already use caution when crossing any street in SP. To be honest I get a little tired of hearing "it's up to the pedestrian" when dealing with the streets of SP because it basically lets drivers off the hook. The reason why drivers speed through SP is because they know they can. Having few stings over the years just isn't enough, IMO. There's are reason why parts of LA are known as speed traps. I hope one day SP gets the reputation as one big speed trap but I won't hold my breath.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 01:42 AM
You make it sound like South Pasadena is the Daytona Speedway. I don't see that. It's just like any other city in this area. Do you have some statistics showing an unusually high number of accidents and injuries? I'm hearing a lot of complaining, but frankly, I'm not hearing a lot of facts. The bottom line on being careful rests with the pedestrian. As a pedestrian, it's my life that's on the line and I need to exercise caution. I never cross in front of a car without making eye contact with the driver. Often I see pedestrians cross in front of me without making eye contact and making sure that I can see them. That's just not smart.
detrich February 28, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Nowadays, more than ever, pedestrians cross streets carelessly and mindlessly- ie they've got their headphones on, they're texting, they're looking at their smart phones, they're reading a book etc. etc. Most of the time they don't even stop, look left, look right, and then cross swiftly. And, when they do cross, they walk like they're taking a leisurely Sunday stroll through the park. We are ALL pedestrians AND motorists at some point. Other than giving some leeway to the elderly, disabled, and those with physical hardships, everyone needs to be considerate and cautious on the road. And, for pedestrians- that means taking responsibility for their own safety and being alert and focused on the task at hand- ie CROSSING THE STREET.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 03:40 AM
At times it is, Ron. You obliviously are not observing as much as I am. I walk up to four times a day all over the city. I keep my eyes and ears at attention. I'm not the only one in this city who has complained about this. In the surrounding neighborhoods where I live speeding is a big topic. I know this because we have neighborhood meetings often. I never said anything about accidents, injuries and its stats but is that what we need to get something done around here? Why not correct the issue before something bad happens, right? The former chief even said at a past meeting he knew about the speeding and the complaints. It's going on over ten years now and very little has been done to rectify the problem. And Ron, just because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 03:47 AM
True. Drivers also need to get off their phones and pay attention to what's around them. That means NOT driving 40 and 50 mph in a 25 zone and STOPPING at stop signs and waiting for people to cross safely.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 03:52 AM
My point is that it seems that you're complaining about something that's just part of the realty of the town. It's hard to explain, but it sounds more like abstract annoyance. My point about statistics is just that - is there real harm caused by what you're describing or is it just something that bothers you and your neighbors? But enforcement does work. I got a ticket from Office Wise for going 41 in a 25 mph zone. He told me what I needed to do to avoid a ticket in the future, and I have followed that because I don't want any more tickets.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:09 AM
Of course it's a just part of what goes on in SP. Many good and bad things happen here. Is this one of my big concerns, absolutely. Is there real harm? There could be but why let it get to that point? Why are people doing 40/ 50 in a 25 zone? Because it's not being enforced enough, IMO. My neighborhood has been begging for enforcement and yes I do know they are short staff but a sting 3 or 4 times a year would be great.
Donna Evans (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Would y'all mind telling me some intersections you're particularly concerned about? When I chatted with Chief Miller today, he asked me which areas in particular my readers were talking about.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 04:12 AM
I have a dangerous situation near my house that was caused by people planting a hedge. They knew that they were creating a dangerous situation, but they didn't care. I don't understand people like that. I would never want to knowingly create a dangerous situation for others if I could help it. Sometime later there was an article in the paper where this very same neighbor was complaining about speeding on the very same street. So she didn't care if her hedge created a dangerous situation for my street, but she cared about the very same cars speeding past her house. How's that for hypocrisy? But you know what? Her little hedge eventually played a big part in bringing down two councilmen and changing the face of the city. So you just never know.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Ron, do you live on the west side of SP? I might know that hedge. It's terrible.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 04:22 AM
Betty Jean - The hedge probably only bothers people on my little street, which feeds into Meridian. Do you live on Grand, by any chance? Or Meridian? Those are two streets with 25 mph limits where people do tend to go faster. I will say that 25 seems a bit low for these two streets, but I don't make the rules.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 04:24 AM
BJ - Which hedge are you referring to?
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 04:28 AM
Donna - As I suggested above, I would surmise that Grand is one of the problem streets. I know the neighbors have been up in arms, but 25 does seem a bit slow for that street. I know that people on Indiana between Monterey and Mission feel that people go too fast there. I know people complain about Meridian south of Monterey, which is also and 25 mph street. I imagine there are other streets that the neighbors are concerned about, but I don't know of them. I think it boils down to this: If it's my street, I want you to drive slowly and carefully. But if it's your street, I want to drive 40. ;-)
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:37 AM
Donna, Monterey Ave to El Centro all intersecting @ Meridian, Orange Grove Ave, and Indiana. All are horrifying especially OGA and Indiana. Arroyo Dr from Pasadena Ave all the way down towards the city of Pasadena. That's bad. Monterey Rd from Pasadena Ave going to the end of SP towards Hermon. Grand from Columbia on to Mission. Terrible! Mission from Fair Oaks to Garfield. Scary! Garfield from Mission to Huntington. More scary! Sorry, I'm old and can't walk the hills so I don't know that area.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:43 AM
Yes, Meridian area.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:44 AM
I thought maybe it was the one on O.Grove Ave and El Centro. The four way stop.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 04:47 AM
OGA and El Centro is tricky because it's got an odd shape. It's a jungle out there.
Ron Rosen February 28, 2013 at 04:48 AM
The most dangerous place in South Pasadena for pedestrians is the Trader Joe's parking lot. Seriously!
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:50 AM
Oh, it's a tiny hedge but it has a tree of big bush next to it? Something like that.
Betty Jean February 28, 2013 at 04:52 AM
OMG! You're absolutely correct, Ron!
Donna Evans (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 07:56 AM
When I shop at the South Pas Trader Joe's, I park on the street :-) I've seen parking lots way scarier at other TJ's (Silver Lake) but yeah, I'll stick to street parking.
Ron Rosen March 01, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Donna: I too never drive into the TJ's parking lot. Too crazy. Cars coming from too many directions. Possible gridlock. I always park on the street, even if I have to walk a ways.
detrich March 01, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Am not going to bother with minor street intersections, because imo crossing those should be at the discretion and care of the pedestrian and/ or motorist. Major street traffic should always get priority. So, the most dangerous major intersections, imo... * Orange Grove & Mission * Orange Grove & 110 (why did they install those stupid traffic lights???) * Mission & Fremont * Mission & Fair Oaks
Betty Jean March 02, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Sadly some of the "minor" are now major.

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