Newport Beach Police Department (NBPD) Chief and Long Beach native Jay R. Johnson, 50, announced his retirement last week to his colleagues, ending a 28-year career in law enforcement. Twenty-three of those years were spent with the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD), where Johnson rose to the rank of commander.
Johnson, who was sworn in as chief in July 2010, said he plans to retire next month, citing his desire to spend more time with his family, but would stay on until early 2016 if the department is in need while searching for his replacement.
“Being the Chief of the Newport Beach Police Department has been a tremendous honor and one of the highlights of my life,” Johnson wrote to his colleagues in an announcement last week. “But as I have said since day one, a good [shelf] life for most Chiefs is about five years, give or take. We have developed a good bench for the future and it is important to allow others to step up into higher leadership roles, for the sake of the Department and community.”
“Chief Johnson has been really great for us, and we’re sorry to see him go, though we’re certainly happy for him and his family,” said Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff. “He brought an already professional department up another level.”
The city will begin a nationwide open recruitment process to find Johnson’s replacement, as the city charter dictates, Kiff said.
Johnson, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Administration from Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), began his career in 1987 with the LBPD. According to his biography, he worked in a variety of assignments, on Patrol, Gangs and Narcotics Enforcement teams, before spending 12 years on the SWAT team, rising to the role of SWAT Commander.
As a commander within the department, Johnson managed numerous divisions, including those within the Patrol Bureau, Investigations Bureau and Support Bureau. He also received awards, including several Unit Citations, the SWAT Team’s Commitment to Excellence Award, and a Meritorious Class “A” Award for heroism.
“I’ve heard it said that there are two things consistent with police employees – we don’t like the way things are and we don’t like change,” Johnson wrote to his colleagues. “Fortunately, I think we are on a good path and I expect a smooth transition for the next Chief to continue down that path and lead this organization even further.”
Above: Image courtesy of the Newport Beach Police Department website.