Newport P.D. names first deputy chief

The Newport Beach Police Department now has a deputy chief, the first in its history.

David McGill, a 49-year-old veteran lieutenant of the Los Angeles Police Department and a Newport Beach native, was introduced to an overflow crowd in City Council Chambers on Monday morning, his first on the job. McGill will oversee the patrol division.

He acknowledged that there might be some resistance to an outsider, recalling the cold reception William Bratton got when he was appointed chief of the LAPD 10 years ago.

"Here's this outsider that's going come and help run our department," McGill said. "We thought we knew everything."

For Newport, he promised improvements, not broad changes.

"We're going to work together, and we're going to make this department just a little bit better," he said.

Chief Jay Johnson hired McGill as part of a restructuring of the department's command staff. Johnson said his intention is to cut costs and increase expertise, while reducing union influence on upper management.

The department's three divisions — patrol, detectives and support services — used to be run by three captains.

But since he was hired two years ago, Johnson said, he's lost two of those three captains: Tom Gazsi, who went to be chief of the Costa Mesa Police Department, and "Craig Fox, who now takes naps every afternoon on his sofa," Johnson joked.

That opened an opportunity to reorganize. Johnson's plan is to have two deputy chiefs oversee patrol and detectives, although the City Council hasn't yet created the latter position. Unlike the captains, the deputy chiefs would be contract employees, not union members, he said, making them more accountable to the police chief.

Support services will be overseen by a civilian supervisor, Jonathan Stafford, who was sworn in Feb. 27. Over the last 20 years, there's been a nationwide move in law enforcement to keep more officers on the street by staffing support roles with less expensive civilian employees, but it's still uncommon for one to run a division.

Human resources, information technology and similar functions "are not what you learn in the police academy," Johnson said.

McGill will get his first test Saturday, when the department goes from a schedule of three, 12-hour days to "four 10s."

Johnson said that McGill was selected from an initial group of 35 to 40 candidates. The first cut was made based on resume strength, he said. That was followed by review by two separate three-chief panels. McGill's connection to the community, strong recommendations and people skills weighed in his favor, Johnson said.

As an aide to top brass in Los Angeles, McGill got an inside look at high-level decision-making, Johnson said.

"All the paperwork that went to Bratton went through him," he said. "You learn a lot that way."

Three years ago, the Police Department was riled by complaints that promotions were determined by favoritism. An investigation found that the allegations couldn't be proven, but the controversy led to the resignation of then-Chief John Klein.

Johnson said he didn't know McGill at the start of the five-month process.

McGill said the job was "everything I've dreamed about," but recognized there would be some cultural adjustments.

"I'm learning the 10-codes," he said. "They're a little foreign to me. But the first one I learned is: 'I'm 10-8.' I'm ready to go."



Six others were recognized at the promotion ceremony Monday. Evan Sailor and Jay Short were both promoted to lieutenant, Rachel Johnson — no relation to the chief — and Michael Schiavi were both promoted to sergeant, Laurie Syvock was promoted to senior dispatcher, and Cynthia Ray was sworn in as a community service officer. Lt. Dennis Birch was honored for filling in as head of the Detective Division.

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