NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Newport Beach City Manager Grace Leung has shifted Deputy Chief Joe Cartwright into the role of acting chief while the city conducts a search for his replacement.

A 20-year veteran of the force, Cartwright will oversee a department that responded to more than 97,000 calls for service in 2021.

Outgoing chief Jon Lewis will officially step down on Dec. 31 after eight years.

“While we will miss his leadership tremendously, Chief Lewis leaves behind an exceptional department that will ensure the continuation of excellent public safety service to our community,” Leung said. “We thank Chief Lewis for his many years of service and wish him the very best in retirement.” 

Now the city will conduct a comprehensive search required by the city charter, with Cartwright expected to be a candidate.

Cartwright has never been far from law enforcement. Even as a child, he heard stories about investigations from his uncle, who worked for the FBI. Fast forward to the Gulf War, and Cartwright found himself in the midst of that conflict, which threatened oil concerns in Saudi Arabia under the Saddam Hussein regime.

But law enforcement had always been his primary interest, so after being honorably discharged in the mid-1990s, Cartwright found a home in the Los Angeles Police Department. But there, he always felt like just another number.

“In LA, I never even had the time to look for bad guys because I was always going from call to call to call,” he said.

In 2002, Cartwright found his way to Newport Beach, where he steadily increased his responsibilities after beginning as a patrol officer. 

There he became a detective, then a lieutenant, steadily climbing the department ladder and learning about the city of about 84,000 people along the way.

Among his assignments, he oversaw traffic, parking and animal control.

“When it comes to people who live in the city, those are the things they care about the most,” he said. “Not everyone is dealing with a crime every day, but they all have to drive and they all care about their animals.”

Cartwright plans to apply for the permanent position as the 11th chief in department history.