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Newport Beach names deputy police chief to top job

Newport Beach names deputy police chief to top job
Deputy Chief Jon Lewis has been named Newport Beach's new police chief. (Courtesy city of Newport Beach)

A 25-year veteran of the Newport Beach Police Department will soon be promoted to the organization's top job.

City Manager Dave Kiff announced Wednesday that he had chosen Deputy Chief Jon Lewis to take over for retired Chief Jay Johnson.

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Johnson retired in December but agreed to continue leading the department until a replacement was installed.

The city hasn't set an exact date for Lewis to take the reins, but officials hope to schedule a swearing-in ceremony soon.

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Lewis has spent his entire law enforcement career in Newport Beach.

According to the city, he began working part-time at the Police Department in 1991 while attending Cal State Long Beach, where he earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice.

In 1996, Lewis joined the department full-time as an officer and steadily rose through the ranks, taking assignments including bike patrol, SWAT, detective, training officer and executive officer to the chief.

Lewis was promoted to deputy chief in 2014 and most recently oversaw Newport Beach police's patrol and traffic division.

"I have great faith that Jon's top-notch leadership skills, integrity, vision and law enforcement experience are an excellent fit for the NBPD and for our community," Kiff said in a statement. "During his police career here, Jon has shown a strong engagement with our community on critical issues, all for the betterment of Newport Beach.

"I'm proud of the work Jon has accomplished for Newport Beach and am very pleased to promote him to the top job in our Police Department."

Lewis' promotion does not require formal City Council approval, but Mayor Diane Dixon said she looks forward to working with Lewis, whom she called highly regarded both inside and outside the department.

"I know Jon and I've seen him in action over the last several years and admire his leadership abilities, his community engagement and his breadth of knowledge of the Newport Beach Police Department," she said.

Lewis also holds a master's degree in criminal justice from Chapman University. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Golden West College Criminal Justice Training Center and is a member of the steering committee of the college's Leadership and Ethics Institute.

Lewis also has ties to the local business community. He is a member of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce's Commodores Club and is chairman of the board for Leadership Tomorrow, a nonprofit that seeks to train new civic leaders for Orange County cities.

"I've been privileged to spend my professional career in Newport Beach and am grateful for the many opportunities and relationships that have developed over the years," Lewis said in a statement. "This is an outstanding community, and I'm incredibly honored to serve as its chief of police."

Lewis grew up in Orange County, where he still lives with his wife and two children.

According to the city, Lewis won the top job after competing with candidates from across the country in an open call for applications.

The recruitment process included written assessments and tests, followed by interviews by panels made up of other police chiefs, community members and city department heads.

The final decision rested with Kiff.

"I think [Kiff] saw that we had the most qualified and the best talent in-house," Johnson said. "Quite frankly, I think we have a deep bench. I think we have a deep bench for years to come."

Daily Pilot staff writer Bradley Zint contributed to this report.

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