Local Focus: Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis Reviews 2020

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The men’s world record for running a mile is 3 minutes and 43 seconds.

The normal time for cooking a soft-boiled egg is close to four minutes.

The average response time by a Newport Beach patrol officer to a 911 call is 2 minutes and 55 seconds, according to Police Chief Jon Lewis.

This is just one of the many PD factoids shared by Chief Lewis during a Thursday, Feb. 18, Government Affairs Meeting hosted online via Zoom by the Newport Chamber of Commerce.

Clockwise from top left: former Mayor Rush Hill, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Rosansky, NBPD Chief Jon Lewis.

Chamber President Steve Rosansky welcomed viewers to the meeting, then turned it over to Former Mayor Rush Hill, who asked Chief Lewis to share his thoughts on 2020 and his goals for 2021.

That Newport Beach measures but 35 square miles, and there are fewer people on the road due to the dynamics brought on by Covid-19, has allowed the Newport Beach police officers to respond slightly quicker than last year, Chief Lewis shared, adding that the Police Department Dispatchers on average answered 911 calls within three rings – less than 10 seconds.

Giving credit where credit is due, Chief Lewis noted that “this is amazing management, especially in big event situations,” when hundreds might all be calling.

Looking ahead to 2021, areas of focus for Chief Lewis are crime trends, homelessness, traffic safety and policing in the age of Covid-19.

Chief Jon Lewis lists goals for 2021

“Crime (last year) had been fairly flat over 2019, increasing but one percent. However, Newport’s five-year average for crime is down 12 percent,” Lewis said. He added that violent crimes are flat, but there was an uptick in robberies.

“There was a slight increase in commercial burglaries,” as well, he said.  On average, for all arrestable causes, “there are between seven and 10 arrests daily.”

Homelessness is a consistent concern in the city, said Chief Lewis. The department has assigned one officer whose specific responsibility is to interact with and help the homeless population.

“We’ve made good inroads in trying to get people off the street and placed into better situations; we’re looking to get shelter access that we can get people into,” he said. One of the realities he noted is that quite a few homeless are used to living on the street, and that is their chosen lifestyle. Others require medical and mental care.

As are many police agencies, Newport is “hiring right now; we always have a vacancy or two,” Lewis apprised. “We’re looking for quality people. If you know anyone who wants to be an officer, send them to us!”

Chief Lewis said that part of management is succession planning. Recently, two Deputy Chiefs retired, and have been replaced with two department veteran officers, Steve Rasmussen and Joe Cartwright.

“These are amazing guys who hit their jobs running,” Lewis complimented.

Rush Hill and chief Jon Lewis

When it comes to traffic safety, Lewis underscored that “We’re not playing games about traffic safety.” The seriousness in his tone left no doubt that all officers see this as a safety priority in Newport. “We’re seeing higher speeds, in part because there are fewer people on the roads.”

And, notable for Newport, “I think that many people don’t know how to drive the high-performance cars like they should.”

With Covid-19 rampant in the jail population, many criminals have been released back into the population. Chief Lewis stated Newport has arrested, and re-arrested, several burglars and thieves up to seven times. These people know the system, and like to return to rich hunting grounds.

Concluding his presentation, Lewis shared the Department’s Vision Statement: “Building on our tradition of excellence, we will work as a team with those we serve to meet the challenge of tomorrow. We will anticipate the needs of our community and achieve success through leadership, innovation and unparalleled service.”

Based on the many Thank You notes received by Chief Lewis, the Newport Beach Police Department is living up to its vision.

Visit the Chamber of Commerce website at www.NewportBeach.com for info on upcoming meetings and presentations.

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