Several Newport City Council members were in attendance, as were plenty of Johnson's former co-workers.
"It's a huge loss for us," said Long Beach police Sgt. Phil Cloughesy, who worked with Johnson in the special enforcement and gang divisions. "He's technically sound and a great leader."
Perhaps a testament to his leadership, many of Johnson's former SWAT team members came wearing their green fatigues to see him sworn in.
Johnson was one of 60 people who applied for the chief's position, which comes with a $204,500 annual salary.
It came down to him and a former deputy chief from the Los Angeles Police Department. City Manager Dave Kiff went with Johnson.
"Very small things began to separate a very small group," Kiff said of the finalists for the job. "It really comes down to a good fit at this level."
Johnson previously was the commander of Long Beach's South Division, which handles downtown, the harbor and much of the tourism in the state's fifth-largest city.
"As with any police department, company or organization, the employees want a genuine, honest and qualified person to lead them and we are confident that Jay Johnson has these values," said Sgt. Mark Hamilton, president of the Newport Beach Police Management Assn. "He comes to us with a great deal of enthusiasm and a proven history of commitment to teamwork."
Johnson said he learned a great deal from Long Beach's current chief on how an outsider — in this case the LAPD — can come in and lead a police department.
"I'll do my best to ensure there's a smooth transition," he said.
Johnson is Newport Beach's first permanent chief since John Klein retired last summer after two years at the helm. Members of the Police Management Assn. took a vote of no confidence in Klein last year.
Johnson is the department's ninth chief in its history, according to the department website.
"I feel honored he put his faith in me," Johnson said of Kiff's decision to hire him. "I promise you, Mr. Kiff, that I won't let you down."
Past Police Chiefs
Roland Hodgkinson 1928 — 1953
John Upson 1954 — 1961
James Glavas 1961 — 1977
Charles Gross 1977 — 1985
Arb Campbell 1985 — 1993
Bob McDonell 1993 — 2007
John Klein 2007 — 2009
Robert M. Luman 2009 — 2010