Police Chief retiring, leaving legacy of compassion for the community

After nearly three decades of service to the city, Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes is hanging up his holster. The city announced Reyes’ retirement Thursday, surprising the community and setting off a flood of well-wishes.

Reyes, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, was first hired as a patrol officer in 1993. He served as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain before being appointed police chief in February 2016. He will officially step down in August, ensuring enough time for the city to conduct a search for his replacement.

“This 27-year journey serving the residents of Palm Springs — and six and a half years as Chief of Police — has been challenging and incredibly fulfilling thanks to the talented and dedicated people I have worked for, worked with — and ultimately those I have been responsible to lead,” Reyes said in a news release. “It is with a great sense of pride and accomplishment that I announce my retirement from the City of Palm Springs, a community I am proud to say is one of the most welcoming and inclusive in the nation -- with an exceptional quality of life thanks in large part to a force of outstanding police officers.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve as Chief of Police and I thank the City Council, residents and staff for their support.”

Residents who saw the news break on social media had equal praise for the chief.

“I’ve been a resident of Palm Springs for more than 20 years,” Bond Shands wrote on the department’s Facebook page. “Chief Reyes is definitely the best of the best Chief of Police I’ve seen here, or in Coachella Valley, or in Riverside County or in the 30 years that I spent in San Francisco.

“He has done an excellent job. His shoes will be hard to fill and I seriously question whether we will be able to find anyone as qualified. His dedication to serving the entire community has always left me filled with admiration. I am saddened by realization that he will be retiring.”

Among Reyes’ many accomplishments, city officials credited him with:

  • Strengthening the department’s community policing in neighborhoods;

  • Expanding outreach and engagement with residents and businesses through Town Hall meetings;

  • Implementing new technology and social media platforms;

  • Fostering trust and credibility through regular meetings with city neighborhoods and civic groups, including those in Desert Highland Gateway Estates, the LGBTQ Outreach Committee, the Police Advisory Board, and the ONE-PS Neighborhood Organization; and

  • Developing partnerships with community and business organizations such as the Palm Springs Unified School District, the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Palm Springs, Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs, Mizell Senior Center, Well in the Desert, Desert Regional Medical Center, and many more.

Reyes may be best known for helping the city through one of the most tragic events in its history, when two Palm Springs police officers, Lesley Zerebny and Jose “Gil” Vega, were killed in the line of duty during an Oct. 8, 2016 officer-involved shooting. Reyes recognized the devastating impact the slayings had on the officers’ families — and on his own officers within the force — taking care to ensure their mental health needs were not forgotten.

“While I have only known him a short time, it is evident that he is a tremendous leader and somebody that provided the continuity, stability and vision for his team and our community,” said City Manager Justin Clifton. “It’s nearly impossible to appreciate how rare, and how special, it is for someone of his caliber to commit 27 years to a community.”


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BRIEFLY

DUI CHECKPOINT: The Palm Springs Police Department will hold a DUI checkpoint tonight from 9 PM until 2 AM at an undisclosed location within the city limits. During the checkpoint, officers will look for signs that drivers are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Checkpoint locations are chosen based on a history of DUI crashes and arrests. The primary purpose of checkpoints is not to make arrests, but to promote public safety by deterring drivers from driving impaired. During the last checkpoint, on April 30, officers checked 308vehicles, making one arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol and issuing a citation for operating a vehicle while unlicensed.

TODAY’S EVENTS

  • MIZELL MUSIC: The Dixie Cats play live music at The Mizell Center, starting at 10:30 AM. More information is available here.

  • BOOK CLUB: The Friends of the Palm Springs Library book club meets at 2 PM via Zoom. Information about the book club and the meeting can be found here. This month the club is reading “A Good Neighborhood” by Therese Anne Fowler

  • DRIVE THRU: Demuth Community Center, 3601 E Mesquite Ave., will have its third Friday drive thru event today from 3:30-5:30 PM. Expect games, snacks, prizes and information on summer camp.

ONGOING

  • VACCINES: Anyone 12 and older now qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine in Riverside County. If you qualify, you can get one at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 North Avenida Caballeros, from 8:30 AM until 4:30 PM Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 8:30 AM until 7 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments are not required, and those age 12-17 need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You can also find a list of community providers such as pharmacies here

WEEKEND EVENTS

  • EQUALITY FOR ALL: Richard Noble, who a decade ago marched a gay pride flag across the United States while calling for an LGBTQ civil rights bill, plans to display 350 transgender pride flags at Frances Stevens Park, 500 N. Palm Canyon Dr., all weekend, starting today. The “Equality For All” event is planned to coincide with the birthday of Harvey Milk on Saturday. Noble plans to speak at 5 PM this evening, calling on President Joe Biden and members of the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act.

  • UNITY DAY: Dr. Umar Johnson will be speaking during a Unity Day event at the BRANCH (Building Resilience and Nurturing Community Health) Institute, 588 Rosa Parks Rd., from 10 AM-4 PM Saturday. The event includes free food, raffles, games for adults and kids, and resources for the community. You must RSVP to attend, and can do that here. Johnson is one of the most recognized social scientists & Pan-Afrikanists of the 21st century. His book, articles and lectures are included by college and university professors across the country within their required course materials.

  • CELEBRATING IMBER: The Palm Springs Modernism Committee will host a celebration of the life of Robert Imber on Sunday from 4-6 PM at St. Theresa School, 2800 E Ramon Road. The celebration is limited to 100 guests. Those wishing to attend should email nickie@psmodcom.org and include the name of your attending guest.

  • FLEA MARKET: A flea market and food fest is held both Saturday and Sunday at 675 Crossley Rd., from 8 AM-3 or 4 PM Saturday and 11 AM-4 PM Sunday. Information can be found here.

  • LIVE MUSIC: Multiple live music performances are planned this weekend in the city. For a list of many of them, turn here.

  • BRUNCH: Multiple venues offer drag brunch, champagne brunch, and more on weekends. View a complete list here.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION

Want to know about city and other municipal events? Road construction in your neighborhood? Building activity? Have something to report? The following links should help:

City of Palm Springs calendar of events

Police reports | Submit a police report

Code compliance reports | Report a code violation

Current road projects and closures

Currently active development projects

ONE-PS calendar of meetings

Desert Water Agency calendar

Mizell Center calendar of events

FIND Food Bank mobile market schedule