Novato hires Martinez captain as first female police chief

Beth Johnson (City of Novato)

Beth Johnson (City of Novato) 

A veteran Bay Area law enforcement officer is set to become the first woman to lead the Novato Police Department beginning next month.

Novato City Manager Adam McGill announced this week that he has appointed Beth Johnson, a Martinez police captain with 28 years of law enforcement experience, as the city’s top cop. Johnson has served as a captain in Martinez since 2019, including five months as acting police chief from December 2021 through April.

Prior to that, she rose the ranks to lieutenant during her nearly 21 years with the Walnut Creek Police Department and formerly served four years as a dispatcher with the Arcata Police Department in Humboldt County.

McGill, who formerly served as Novato’s police chief from 2017 to 2019 before being appointed city manager, said Johnson was one of six finalists that he and three interview panels were considering.

“What really put Beth ahead was her interpersonal skills, her communication, relationship building — all the things we’re really looking for now she possessed and had a proven track record on delivering on,” McGill said. “She’s very widely respected in the industry and every organization she’s worked in. I felt she was a plug-and-play in Novato based on where we are today.”

Johnson, 46, will begin work in Novato on July 5 and will be paid an annual salary of $226,596. She currently lives in Benicia with her husband Kenny Hart, a Benicia police lieutenant, but hopes to move to Novato next year after her son graduates from high school.

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Johnson will replace former Novato chief Matthew McCaffrey, who retired at the end of 2021 after serving two years in the position and a total of six years in the department. Former Santa Rosa police chief Hank Schreeder was hired as interim chief as the city searched for a replacement.

Reached Thursday, Johnson said she applied for the job because she felt Novato was “such a beautiful blend of all the agencies I’ve worked for thus far.”

“It has the flavor of Walnut Creek, the ruralness of Martinez, and it’s just a sophisticated, educated and progressive community and that really hit home for me,” Johnson said.

After serving as acting police chief for five months in Martinez, Johnson said she saw how the position allows for the “opportunity to create transformation within the profession in a positive way that is really going to serve in our communities.”

“For me, it’s inspiring to have

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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