University makes interim police chief permanent

After a nationwide search, Sonoma State University President, Judy Sakaki, has named David Dougherty as the new Chief of Police for the university. Dougherty has worked at Sonoma State’s since 2005. “I initially joined University Police Department as an officer for a variety of reasons, including the opportunity to make Sonoma State University a great place for people to work, learn, live, and visit, and to use my role as a police officer to serve the community.”

Now 13 years later, Dougherty has not changed his tune, saying that he applied to be the Chief of Police because of his desire to continue leading the University Police Department while working with the community in support of student success. “We are fortunate that he is already a familiar presence on campus, having risen through the ranks of the University Police Department as a patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, acting chief, interim chief and now chief,” President Judy Sakaki said on the Sonoma State website.

Chief Dougherty has served as interim chief of police at Sonoma State University since May 2016 after the former police chief Nathan Johnson left abruptly after stabbing his stepson with a power drill during a domestic dispute in his Hayward home. Johnson was immediately placed on paid leave the day after the altercation with his stepson. 

Johnson, who had been the Chief of Police at Sonoma State University since 1999, did not to return to the police force.

In recent years, Sonoma State University has experience a couple tragedies, including a dead body found buried on campus and an individual being stabbed to death within the living community. Dougherty responded to these crimes saying, “University Police Department strives to provide a high level of visible, proactive and supportive service to the students, faculty, staff and visitors.” The chief has experienced many tragic incidents within his profession that gives him the ability to lead at high stress moments. Dougherty said that he will continue to partner with the community and other law enforcement agencies to work together and collaborate to resolve mutual issues within respective communities.

 Dougherty will now lead the largest campus-based police force in Sonoma County. With over 270 acres to cover on Sonoma State’s campus, nearly 10,000 students and more than 1,500 faculty and staff, Chief Dougherty will direct his team of eight officers to keep the campus safe. “I am honored and humbled to serve as the Chief of Police for Sonoma State University and will continue to work collaboratively with my team and others to provide visible, proactive and engaged police services to the community,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty is qualified to take on the new position with eight years of working in management in the private sector. He is trained in a range of areas including staff development, media relations and budget coordination. He said he is excited to get out from behind the desk or steering wheel of a police vehicle and spending time engaging in the community. 

“Chief Dougherty is respected for his work in building relations and collaboration among individuals and groups throughout the university. We are fortunate to have a chief who is dedicated to community policing.” Joyce Lopes, the Vice President for Administration and Finance, said on Sonoma State’s website.