GREENVILLE, S.C.--The city of Greenville has a new police chief. It's Kenneth Miller, who earlier this year announced his upcoming retirement from the Greensboro, N.C. Police Department.
City Manager John Castile announced the new police chief at a news conference at noon today, saying the six finalists chosen after a nationwide search went through a grueling two-day interview process before city officials and officers of the police force.
Miller, 50, served four years as chief in Greensboro. He spent more than two decades with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, eventually rising to deputy chief. He also worked as a deputy in Greeneville, N.C., and served in the U.S. Air Force.
Miller replaces Terri Wilfong, who retired April 15 after seven years as chief.
Speculation about Miller's future with the city arose last October when he posted his resume on LinkedIn and indicated he was available to start a new job in March, when he was eligible to retire. He reached an agreement with the city of Greensboro shortly after that in which he was given a $27,000-a-year raise to stay.
That made his salary $175,000. It was to make up for a separation allowance he would have qualified for had he retired. Wilfong made $119,800 when she retired. Gambrell makes $100,796 as interim chief.
Miller said in a phone interview last month that he wanted to leave Greensboro because of the way the North Carolina pension system operates.
"It's fair to say that each day I work in Greensboro is a deficit to me," he said then.
Miller inherited a police force that had been rocked by lawsuits alleging discrimination within the ranks by 40 black and Latino officers. The lawsuits were settled last year. Also, he said the police department's dealings with the community had been unsatisfactory. He has been credited with stabilizing the department as well as improving crime prevention, particularly through neighborhood policing.
Miller said although Greenville is smaller than Greensboro it has a vibrant mix of nightlife, residential and business. He said Greensboro has sent people to Greenville to see the possibilities of downtown revitalization.
Greensboro population was 279,639 in 2013 and Greenville's population was 61,397, according to Census Bureau estimates.
Miller and his wife, Kris, a teacher, have two sons, 8 and 11.
"Wherever I go, it's important to me that it's a city where I want to raise my children," he said.
The field had been narrowed to six candidates including Miller: Interim Chief Mike Gambrell, Capt. Mike Harmon and Capt. Gerald Hunt, all of the Greenville Police Department, as well as Brian Harris of the DeKalb County Police Department; and Chief Deputy Steven Henry of Pinal County Sheriff's Department in Arizona.
Donnie Turlington with the City of Greensboro told WFMY News 2 the City of Greensboro began the process of doing a national search for a replacement when Miller announced his retirement. The human resources team has been working on this search and narrowing down choices for the interim chief. Turlington said the interim chief will most likely be internal (a current member of the Greensboro Police Department). The City said it has until September (when Miller leaves) to make this decision.
The appointment is made by only the City manager and his staff. Police are not allowed to make recommendations unless asked by the assistant city manager who oversees the public safety department, Wesley Reid.