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Next Newport police chief announced [updated]

Long Beach Police Commander Jay R. Johnson was named Monday morning as the next police chief of Newport Beach. He will begin his duties on July 3.

Johnson, who turns 45 on Tuesday, is replacing interim Police Chief Robert Luman who returned from retirement to serve the city while a new chief was being recruited.

Johnson underwent an extensive recruitment process though the city and a panel interview conducted by a cross-section of Newport Beach residents, City Mangager David Kiff said Monday.

“The police department here in Newport is a little unlike other police departments in that it is very community oriented. The community is used to getting to know their police chief and having him accessible though e-mail or over the phone,” Kiff said. “The purpose of the community panels was as much for the incoming chief as it was for the community. If he didn’t run away screaming, we knew that we could consider it a successful recruitment.”

Johnson most recently served the South District of Long Beach, which is similar in terms of community engagement with local businesses and resident to that of which is expected of a police chief in Newport Beach, he said Monday.

“My first priority is to come in and listen. Only through listening will I be able to learn what the community expectations are and how to best serve the city and the department,” Johnson said. “I think that everyone is going to see very quickly that my style is teamwork.”

Johnson joined the Long Beach Police Department in 1987 as a patrol officer and was promoted to the position of commander in 2004. During his service in Long Beach, he was honored with the Jeff Young Memorial Award for his commitment to the community and the department and receiving a Class “A” award for heroism.