Mills had only been Western’s top officer for a matter of days March 27 when he made his first appearance before a community group at the Ocean Beach Town Council’s regular monthly meeting. Right away, Mills made it clear he wants to establish himself as someone who solves problems by being accessible in the community.
He said his first order of business is fact-finding. In quick order, Mills encouraged citizens to share their concerns via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and join him in a walk throughout the Ocean Beach community on April 2.
“I want you to have direct access to me,” Mills said. “The whole idea is to hear first-hand what you’re seeing so we can craft solutions. I want you to share with me your vision and your priorities with this neighborhood and I’ll share with you my vision and priorities for this command.”
Mills said he appreciated the uniqueness of the beach communities and said he looks forward to learning more about its needs and sensitivities.
“We’re going to take a look at the problems,” he said. “We’re going to find the best solutions we can, but at the same time, treat people justly. Justice not only includes putting people in jail, but caring for those in great need.”
This is not Mills’ first time around at Western Division, which is made up of Ocean Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Point Loma Heights, Roseville-Fleetridge, La Playa, Loma Portal, Wooded Area, Midway District, Midtown, Mission Hills, Linda Vista, Mission Valley West, Morena, Old Town, University Heights and Hillcrest. He served as a Western Division lieutenant before taking on assignments in gang investigations and criminal intelligence. In 2011, he was promoted to captain of SDPD’s Eastern Division.
During his 18 months at Eastern Division, Mills oversaw Operation Constant Crook, an effort targeting crimes committed by parolees released to the counties under the state’s prison realignment plan. In 2012, the number of parolees arrested increased to more than 400 from only 74 the previous year, Mills said.
“My history is a little bit aggressive,” Mills said. “When I come into a command, I expect things to happen. I don’t want to hear that we’re working as hard as we can. I want something to take place. I want some action on the back of that. I can guarantee you that things are going to move.”
Mills, a Bird Rock resident who has lived in the city for 30 years, fills an opening created by the departure of Walt Vasquez, Western Division’s previous captain who has moved up to replaced Boyd Long as SDPD’s assistant chief of Patrol Operations.
“We’re very happy to have [Mills] back,” said community services officer David Surwilo. “It’s been a win-win situation. We lose a great captain, we gain another great captain.”
In other Town Council news
• With the ever-increasing interest in urban agriculture, Ocean Beach resident and business owner Charles Cairns is on the lookout for a place to site a new community garden. Cairns said officials from the city’s Park and Recreation Department have given him the green light to pursue a dirt lot in the extreme northwest corner of Robb Field. It’s a patch of earth on the south side of the Ocean Beach Bike Path at the 1/4-mile marker used for overflow parking.
• District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer will give a State of the District address April 10 at 6 p.m. in the Sunset Ballroom of the Paradise Point Resort and Spa, 1404 Vacation Road.
• April 19 is the deadline for local high school students to enter the 2013 Congressional Art Competition. The winning entry will be displayed at the U.S. Capitol for one year, said Shea Benton, aide to 52nd District Congressman Scott Peters. Entry requirements are available on Peters’ website.
• The devices that provide a digital display of the traffic speeds of cars on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard have been nonoperational for several months, and there’s no set date for their repair. The city is waiting for replacement parts to arrive, said Faulconer aide Michael Patton.
• The transfer of assets from Union Bank to Chase is complete, said treasurer Melinda Therkalson. The balance is almost $25,000, she said.
• Cindy Martin, the new superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, and board member Kevin Beiser will appear for a meet-and-greet at the Point Loma Democratic Club April 28 at 4 p.m. at Point Loma Assembly, 3035 Talbot St., said club president Susan Peinado.
• That buzzer you just heard means time has run out if you wanted to join the Town Council in time to vote for the design of the new sign at the Sunset Cliffs Boulevard entryway. The five final designs can be viewed at obtowncouncil.com. Dues-paying members of the Town Council should receive their ballots via email this week. Election buzz caused one of the largest-ever one-month spikes in membership to occur in March, said correspondence secretary Heather Richards.