He's a pinch-hitter no more. About six months after retiring as Novato's chief of police to take a temporary chief position in Vallejo, Joseph Kreins has been appointed as the long-term replacement in Vallejo.
The announcement was made by Daniel Keen, former Novato city manager who now has the same role in Vallejo.
Kreins, 56, has been serving as interim since July 15 after Chief Robert Nichelini retired. His appointment as permanent police chief is effective Saturday.
"I am being challenged every hour of every day, and I look forward to finishing what I started," Kreins said.
Keen said Kreins' strong leadership merited his appointment as chief. Keen said Kreins has tackled many challenges facing the Vallejo Police Department since July.
In fact, the city is climbing back from financial crisis that forced leaders to declare bankruptcy in 2008. Four years ago, the city faced a $16 million deficit and couldn't get public employees to budge on their compensation packages. The police and fire staffs were both cut in half.
For a time Vallejo, with a population of about 116,000, was the largest California city to declare bankruptcy (Stockton now has that dubious title).
Even though there is still a massive problem of unfunded liabilities, Vallejo has emerged from its bankruptcy filing with a newfound commitment to community involvement. During the past five months, Kreins has reorganized the staff, implemented some significant changes and made several promotions and transfers. Funding has been secured for technological upgrades such as a new records management system, new in-car computers and cameras and wearable body-mounted cameras for patrol officers.
Kreins and his staff have developed a long-term training plan, enhanced community relations efforts and solidified partnerships in the community.
The timing was right for such major changes, Keen said.
"This has been a particularly trying time for the department, during which we experienced three officer-involved shooting incidents, difficulties in maintaining minimum staffing levels on all shifts, and challenging relationships with some segments of the community," Keen said.
Kreins was Novato's police chief for seven years and chief of the Sausalito Police Department for 3 1/2 years. Prior to those positions, he was with the Concord Police
Department for 17 years, rising to the rank of lieutenant/district commander.
Kreins, whose salary was set at $225,307, told the Vallejo Times-Herald that he received about $215,000 a year from Novato as a retirement pension and was doing some consulting work in retirement.
"For me it's not about the financial incentive," Kreins told the Times-Herald. "If it were, I'd be doing something else. In a lot of ways, this is financially detrimental to me."
— Bay City News Service contributed to this report