hat the Kansas City Police Department may of thought of as “old” is new again for the Riverside Department of Public Safety.
After 30 years with the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), Gregory Mills is the newest leader of the Riverside Department of Public Safety. He has been on the job for 13 weeks now.
“Kansas City has a mandatory 30 year retirement and I knew I was approaching that mandatory time. I was very particular in what I wanted to do when leaving Kansas City,” said Mills.
“My criteria was simple. Number one, I didn’t want to leave the Northland. Secondly, I wanted to use my skills and experience that I achieved in my 30 plus years in law enforcement and finally, I wanted to go somewhere I could be a contributing member of a city team. This position fit all those criteria.”
During Mills 30 years with KCPD, he served 29 of those in a sworn capacity. Mills spent five years as a spokesperson for the KCPD and in his final years Mills was a major in charge of the department’s narcotics and vice division.
“Inside the law enforcement community word travels quickly. I first heard about the job (in Riverside) through word of mouth and then waited for the ad to be posted in the paper,” stated Mills. “The ad came out in the paper on Sunday and I turned in my application on Monday morning.”
His decision to seek the position in Riverside was not a tough call.
“The Northland, from a personal standpoint, is home. It’s where my family, my kids and our social ties are and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” said Mills.
“That is one thing I stressed when applying for this job. I am looking for this job to be my last job. It is not my plan to come here to gain experience and then move on.”
When Mills finally received word from city officials that he was the man they wanted, he experienced mixed emotions to the news.
“I was humbled. It had been somewhat of a lengthy process for the city to arrive at its decision. When I was first offered the job, I was relieved and then humbled, and then that gave away to excitement and then partially nervousness,” stated Mills. “Apart from the military, I’m leaving the only job I’ve had in my adult life.”
The Riverside Department of Public Safety currently provides emergency services for the city’s 2,900 residents.
“There’s no other city in the Northland that’s growing at the rate Riverside is,” said Mills. “The plans on the drawing board for improvements to this city are staggering.”
As the presiding chief of 27 officers, Mills has plans for the fastest growing city within the Northland.
“Our goal for the department of public safety is to make sure that the growth is achieved and make sure this city becomes all that the city administrators and citizens want it to be. Our goal in the department of public safety is to do our part to make sure that is accomplished.”
Mills said the department has already made strides to improve its services to the city.
“We’ve made subtle improvements in the operation and culture of our department and will continue to in terms of the way we do business and out accountability and our enthusiasm for doing the job,” stated Mills.
“This department is blessed that the number of dedicated women and men whose goal it is everyday to make this city the best place to live and work.”
While making subtle changes within the operation and culture of the department, Mills said they are also addressing key issues surrounding the city’s law enforcement.
“We’re working to improve the investigative process of dealing with crimes. We need to do a better job of that and we are working towards that. We’re getting training for our detectives and we’re going to be getting additional training on crime scene processing,” said Mills.
“The construction going on in our city is also presenting big challenges for us in the way people are moving around the city. I think that’s something they’re (citizens and staff) are not used to. We need to make sure the people can safely and quickly get to where they need to go.”
Mills, 52, and his wife Carroll have been married for 30 years and reside in Kansas City, North. Carroll is an obstetrics nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital on the Plaza. The couple has three children: Melissa a crime scene investigator for the KCPD, Ryan a KCPD Police Officer, and Kristin a graduate student at Avila College in South Kansas City.
Prior to serving with the KCPD, Mills was a Specialist 4th Class for the Army, where he served for two and a half years in Germany.
“This community can be very proud of this department. My goal is to be able to say when I leave this job, that I had a part of making this department better for our citizens and community and a better place to work for the staff,” stated Mills.