Heartfelt salutes were issued to four longtime employees heading off to retirement during a ceremony Monday morning at .
Sgt. Earl Titman, a Novato native and the department’s oldest employee at 54, called it a career along with Lt. Rich Hill, Sgt. Dave Bettin and canine “officer” Kyto, a German shepherd who worked with Officer Kevin Naugle.
Naugle was one five on the force who later took oaths associated with their promotions. Naugle and Officer Nick Frey were promoted to corporal; Officers Sophia Winter and Sasha D’Amico were promoted to sergeant; and Sgt. Keith Heiden was promoted to lieutenant.
Hill, who was unable to attend the ceremony, on Friday finished 29 years of service for the Novato police. Bettin wrapped up with 32 years and Titman 24.
“These are extraordinary individuals, who collectively have dedicated 85 years of outstanding public safety service to our department and the community,” said Chief Joseph Kreins. “… They will all be sorely missed and it will not be easy to fill the void that will be left behind.”
Mayor Madeline Kellner told the retiring officers who much the city appreciated their work to keep residents and visitors safe.
“And I think it’s also to your credit when I look at the long list of promotions and new assignments that you have made a difference in your service not only in what you’ve done individually but what you’ve done to guide and mentor new people so that when you move on to your new adventures,” she said. “There will be others here who will keep your good work going.”
Hill, a lieutenant since December 2007 and a sergeant for seven years before that, joined Novato PD in 1982. His assignments included school resource officer, traffic officer, special response team member, Explorer program coordinator, canine officer and canine program coordinator. He served as a countywide instructor and trainer of canine programs, served as the department’s Professional Standards Coordinator and was responsible for training, policy and procedure review.
Bettin joined Novato PD in 1974 as an explorer and became a reserve officer two years later, according to his police bio. He was hired in May 1979 and held the following positions during his career: off-road motorcycle officer; bicycle officer; detective; corporal; traffic corporal; DARE officer; crime prevention officer; sergeant; and personnel and training sergeant. Kreins said Bettin would stick around a bit longer to oversee a short-handed dispatcher team.
Titman started his second career at age 30 and joined Novato PD in 1987 as a reserve officer, becoming a sworn officer three years later. He served as a patrol officer, school resource officer, DARE instructor, motor/traffic officer, field training officer, detective and patrol sergeant. His specialty assignments were in the fields of street gangs, forensic child interviews, dive team, special response team and department honor guard.
Kreins noted that the retirements and promotions were a result of a staff reorganization prompted by city budget cuts that resulted in 50 positions discontinued over the past five years. The department eliminated four positions as of June 30 — one lieutenant, one sergeant, one officer and one records technician — and has seen its sworn staff reduced from 63 to 55 positions. City staff is in the midst of finding new ways to fund the police force and avoid further layoffs, but Kreins called the reduced staffing “the new normal.”
Kyto finished nine years of service with Novato PD.