Keeping his emotions in check, just like he kept our town in check while out on the beat, retiring Novato Police Department Lt. Keith Heiden said goodbye after more than 27 years with the force on Monday at Novato City Hall.
At the same ceremony before a packed house, five officers received promotions from Chief Jim Berg and huge ovations from co-workers, friends and family.
Heiden's last official day as a city employee is Dec. 29, but Thursday will be his final day in uniform.
Heiden, who grew up in Novato, is wrapping up 30 1/2 years of public safety service. He said he plans to spend more time with his children and visit other family members up and down the state.
"I am blessed to have made it 30 years in public safety," Heiden said. "... It's been absolute enjoyment and an honor to be able to meet everybody, serve everybody and have everybody impact my life the way they have."
After City Manager Michael Frank congratulated Heiden on his career and the others for their promotions, Berg read a list of Heiden's accomplishments, including two Employee of the Year awards and critical roles in the investigations of several homicide cases, gang shootings and child sexual assaults.
"He's probably one of the most well-known individuals in this community,
Berg said. "If you mention any name, he'll say, 'Oh, I know that guy ... I know that guy ... I played basketball with him.' Although Keith is leaving us, his legacy will continue in Novato for many years."
Jennifer Welch and Oliver Collins were promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, Nick Frey and Dan Jenner moved into sergeant roles and Chris Jacob was elevated to corporal.
Welch, a Novato native and San Marin High School graduate, became just the second female lieutenant in the history of the Novato Police Department; Jennifer Tejada reached the rank in 2004 before becoming a captain and eventually taking the chief of police job in Sausalito in 2010. After 11 years on the force, she moved up from serving as the department’s professional standards sergeant.
Collins, hired by Novato PD in 2000, has been the department’s traffic sergeant after spending time as a field training officer, a detective and a patrol sergeant. He serves on several nonprofit boards and committees in town.
Frey was one of the first corporals with Novato PD since the department reinstated the rank in 2010. He served as the corporal assigned to the newly formed Novato Response Team the past few months after having played roles as a field training officer, traffic officer and patrol corporal.
Jenner, a detective the past three years, moves up to sergeant as well. He started with Novato as a field training officer. Jacob also was a detective, a field training officer and a traffic officer.
"Having supervisors and managers like Jennifer, Oliver, Nick, Dan and Chris re-affirm my faith that Novato PD will continue to serve the Novato community with outstanding law enforcement services for years to come," Berg said.
Berg also introduced interns Mona Kalib, a Sonoma State student, and Daniel Anderson, a Santa Rosa Junior College student. He then introduced three of the department's newest volunteers, James Finn, Pam Flanagan and Father Luke Palumbis.