David Dougherty, who has led Sonoma State University’s police department on interim basis for more than two years, was named Tuesday by SSU President Judy Sakaki as the agency’s new chief.
Dougherty, a 13-year veteran of the campus police department, has served as interim chief since June 2016, at the outset of an investigation of his predecessor, Nathan Johnson, who was accused of stabbing his stepson with a power drill in a domestic dispute. Johnson never returned to his post.
Dougherty was one of three finalists for the position and is a lifelong Sonoma County resident who grew up in Santa Rosa, SSU spokesman Paul Gullixson said Tuesday.
He joined the agency in 2005, working as a patrol officer. He was eventually promoted to the rank of captain before being tapped for the interim job.
“Dave is a highly qualified law enforcement professional who has served the university with distinction for 13 years,” Sakaki said in the press release. “We are fortunate that he is already a familiar presence on campus.”
As SSU’s new chief, Dougherty, 49, will lead the largest campus police force in Sonoma County, with 14 sworn officers patrolling the Rohnert Park-based university.
It has been the scene for two homicides since 2016, including a stabbing attack in May at a campus apartment that killed a 26-year-old man. The victim, Santa Rosa resident Steven John Garcia, died after he was involved in a fight with 20-year-old Tyler Joseph Bratton. Neither of the men were students at the school, police said.
In November 2016, a Cotati teenager was found in a shallow grave in a wooded area on the edge of campus. Authorities said they believe Kirk Kimberly, 18, was stabbed multiple times before he died. He also was not a student at the university.
Dougherty, in a written statement, said he was “humbled by the opportunity to serve as the chief of police” at SSU and looked forward to finding new ways to connect with students and staff on campus.
His swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 9 at 4 p.m. in the third-floor ballroom of the Sonoma State University Student Center.
The annual salary for Doughtery’s position is $140,000, according to a campus posting.