Several Novato police officers will have new roles next month, including one whose assignment is to relax in retirement.
Lt. Keith Heiden will wrap up more than 27 years with the Novato Police Department when he bids goodbye on Dec. 29, a move that has opened the door for promotions along with the recent boost of Jim Berg from captain to chief.
Jennifer Welch and Oliver Collins have been promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, Nick Frey and Dan Jenner will move into sergeant roles and Chris Jacob will be bumped up to corporal, according to a release sent out Monday. Heiden and the promoted officers will be congratulated on Dec. 10 at a public ceremony at Novato City Hall.
Berg started with Novato PD in May 1985, just six months before Heiden joined the force after a few years as a public safety officer (combined cop and firefighter) with the city of Brisbane.
“Lt. Heiden’s passion, enthusiasm and dedication to our community have made Novato a better place for all,” Berg said in a written announcement. “... His smiling face, high energy and great attitude will be sorely missed, and we all wish him the very best that retirement has to offer.”
Heiden, who will finish with 30 1/2 years of police service, worked in Novato as a field training officer and a member of the special response team as he rose up from officer, corporal, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and patrol lieutenant. He has been the department’s representative to the Center for Domestic Peace (previously known as the Marin Abused Women's Services), liaison to the Novato City Council’s Multicultural Commission and the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth. In 2010, Heiden was the Elks Club Police Officer of the Year.
Heiden said he plans to spend more time with his adult children and visit other family members up and down the state. He said he will continue maintaining his physical fitness and try his hand at competitive open-water swimming.
"I feel blessed that I was given the opportunities I received at the Novato Police Department," he said. "Having grown up in Novato, it's been an amazing experience because I knew so many people I encountered on the job, either in giving advice or even helping victims of crimes."
Berg added, It's going to be a mixed day (on Dec. 10) because I'm happy for him but sad for our organization to lose someone with so much experience and community relationships. The good news is we have some great people being promoted that will help fill the void."
Welch will become 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. Welch moves up from serving as the department’s professional standards sergeant. She previously served as a school resource officer, a detective and patrol sergeant.
Collins has been the department’s traffic sergeant after spending time as a field training officer, a detective and a patrol sergeant.
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.
"I'm excited to see the changes within Novato police and seeing other officers get the opportunities within the department that I had," Heiden said. "I know they will all do a great job. I think Novato PD does a phenomenal job working with the public and with the level of service they provide."
Berg said the Dec. 10 public ceremony, set for 9 a.m. at City Hall, will include the introduction of new employees and volunteers and the announcement of several personnel specialty assignments.