Berg Named Novato's Chief of Police

City Manager Michael Frank decides to elevate longtime captain who was serving as interim chief since Joseph Kreins left earlier this summer.

You can take the "interim" off the title of Interim Chief Jim Berg.

The city of Novato announced that Berg, a 27-year veteran of the local force, is the replacement for Joseph Kreins, who retired in July.

“I am humbled by the appointment and grateful to our city manager, Michael Frank, for providing me this opportunity," Berg said in a release sent out by Frank's office. "I look forward to the challenges of the position and the ability to work with the city’s executive management team to provide great service to our community."

Berg, who lives in Sonoma County, began his Novato service in 1985 as an officer and was promoted to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. Berg's appointment marks the first time in the city's history that an officer made such a progression to chief. 

Berg served in an interim role twice, including the past few weeks since Kreins retired and took an interim position as Vallejo's police chief. Berg's first official day without the interim title is Sept. 11, taking over leadership of 59 sworn officers — 57 working in the city and two others working on special countywide assignments — plus dispatchers, office personnel and volunteers.

"His experience, work ethic, commitment to Novato and competence are just a few of the factors I considered in making this decision," Frank said in the release. "While the city could have sought external candidates, it was clear that the best candidate was already in our organization. Jim is the consummate public safety professional and is a great fit for the community, council and staff as he clearly understands and supports the city’s mission and strategic plan.”

Berg said he's pleased with the direction of the department and eager to learn about the role he'll play with the city's administrative leadership team.

"My first order of business ... will be to meet with each employee and get their ideas for the department, then weave those ideas into the organization if it's appropriate," he said.

Several technical upgrades were in the works when Kreins departed, and Berg said he'd like to "see those to fruition and expand on the them if possible, plus also increase our connection with the community. ... For the immediate term, I'd like to continue the good things we're doing."

He said it was too early to determine whether he will get to fill his own previous role as captain. As it stands, the organizational chart for the police department includes a chief, two captains, two lieutenants, nine sergeants and three corporals.

"I'll be talking to the city manager about the org chart," he said. "I don't want to jump out too far in front of that. Whatever is best for the organization and the community."


Kreins was rooting for Berg to get the job. After announcing his departure in July, Kreins said, "Jim is about the pursuit of excellence. He's a good people person, a great tactician and his work ethic is unbelievable. He's in early in the morning, late at night, weekends, holidays — whatever job needs to get done, he gets it done. He has always pushed himself and pushed the rest of the organization to be the best."

Berg, 49, is a graduate of St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma, Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University. He spent two years working as a police technician for the Santa Rosa Police Department after getting his degree in criminal justice and coming to Novato.

His family line is packed with service to the armed forces and policing. Berg's grandfather was a cop in Nashville. His father was in the U.S. Army Special Forces during Vietnam. One brother is a lieutenant colonel in the Special Forces now. Another brother is a Santa Rosa police officer. His wife Shelley is a court reporter in Sonoma County. His son Garrett, 22, is in the Marine Corps reserves. His son, Nick, 26, is an officer with Novato PD.

Berg said he had to laugh about the timing of his appointment to chief. He will have time to celebrate soon.

"Since December we've had plans for a vacation, which starts next week," he said.

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Jay Strauss September 12, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Congratulations to Chief Jim Berg. Chief, now that you're in charge, maybe you can schedule yourself enough time to join Ignacio Rotary?
kai lancaster September 12, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Congratulations Chief Berg! Thank you for your many years of service. Here's to many years of successful leadership within the department and our community.
Elaine Smith September 12, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Chief Berg is easy on the eyes and has a hot bod! What a good looking Chief!
Frances Cheda September 15, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Awesome!!! He's a great guy and has a wonderful family!
John Silva November 09, 2012 at 11:02 PM


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