To say departing So Pas Police Chief Art Miller went out with a bang is an understatement.
Miller, who started with the department more than five years ago, received a hero’s celebration Thursday evening at the War Memorial Building on Fair Oaks Avenue.
The room was standing room only filled with dignitaries such as newly-anointed Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Michel Moore. Everyone paid their respects over the two-hour event with good-natured roasting and praise reserved usually for those retiring. But not Art Miller.
Miller is taking over a police department not without its own challenges in Peoria, Arizona, a major suburb of Phoenix. The Peoria Police Department has taken about five months to select its new chief. Miller was selected out of 55 applicants and four finalists. The job actually is not official yet because the announcement has not been made. That announcement is expected to be Aug. 28 and Miller is set to start his new job Sept. 5. The department is significantly larger than South Pasadena. Peoria PD has about 200 sworn officers while So Pas has 36.
“I’m ready for the challenge,” Miller said before the party began. “I am adaptable and can handle just about anything. I am looking forward to the new job.”
San Marino Police Chief John Incontro has known Miller since they were cadets together at the tender age of 19.
“I’ve known Art longer than anybody here,” Incontro told the packed house of admirers. “And I have abandonment issues. Art Miller is the cause of my abandonment issues,” causing the crowd to laugh long and hard.
Prior to the formal presentation, though, Incontro spoke with reverence about Miller. He said that he was a true leader in law enforcement and the community.
“He’s just a great guy,” Incontro said. “I’ve known Art since we were 19. We worked together in Hollywood. We worked Metro together. Just a great guy. Somebody you can count on. I will miss him terribly.” Incontro and Miller both came to their current jobs from the LAPD Metro Division, considered one of the busiest divisions in the LAPD. In fact, before Incontro took the San Marino job about three years ago, he sought Miller’s counsel.
“He was a big help,” Incontro said. “He told me about some of the things that I needed to be aware of and I took the job. He’s going to be missed.”
Miller was planning on retiring in the Peoria area anyway, so this was “fortuitous,” he said.
His wife, Linda, agreed.
“Now, we have to move,” she said. “That’s the next thing on the agenda. I think it’s great. I really do.”
Art Miller’s son, Rick, also agreed.
“My dad has always been one for challenges,” Rick Miller said. “I think this is a perfect move for him and I am so proud of him.”
Miller started with the So Pas Police Department in February 2013. His last day in the office was last Friday, Aug. 17, but his last day on the job was on Saturday, Aug. 18., because he had to attend a barbecue in Encino.
“I am humbled by all of this, really humbled,” Miller said, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude.”