June 13, 2014 10:46:35 AM
After 40 years in law enforcement, Columbus assistant police chief Joe Johnson is retiring.
Johnson's last day on the job will be June 30.
"After consultations with my family we came to the decision that 40 years was enough," Johnson said. "That's four decades of dedicated service to the city of Columbus and I decided to retire."
Johnson joined the Columbus Police Department in May of 1974 as a patrolman. He was promoted to corporal in 1983 and promoted to sergeant in 1987. He made lieutenant in 1988 and became assistant chief of criminal investigations in 1997. In 1999, he became assistant chief of police.
During his time on the force, Johnson has twice served as interim chief. When former chief of police Selvain McQueen announced his retirement in April, Johnson served as acting chief until Tony Carleton's appointment as the interim chief.
Johnson, who has applied for chief in the past, said he did not apply for chief in the most recent hire. Carleton was announced as the permanent chief Tuesday.
Johnson said serving the citizens of Columbus has been an honor and a privilege.
"It has been a pleasure serving the citizens of this great city for 40 years," he said this morning. "Along the way I've met many people, a lot of people, who were influential in my life."
Johnson said he has learned that proper training is the most important thing, especially for young officers.
"Training, training, training," he said. "Training is the key to being in law enforcement. It is incumbent upon any city, that police department, that chief of police, to make sure his people, his personnel, his officers, are highly trained to deal effectively with the public. After all, the public is who we serve."
There are many memorable moments from his lengthy career, too many to highlight, Johnson said. What sticks out the most, however, is the people he worked with.
"The memorable moments that I take away from the police department are the personnel that I had the opportunity to work with," he said. "Memorable moments are several. It's several, several memorable moments so I don't highlight them but there were several."
Carleton said he is appreciative for Johnson's service.
"We certainly appreciate the long service that assistant chief Joe Johnson has provided this city," Carleton said. "There is certainly a big void in his position and we'll have to start the process of looking for a new assistant chief."
Carleton said while filling Johnson's position is important, his priority is hiring new patrol officers as well as the head of criminal investigation, a position left vacant when Capt. Don English died in March.
Johnson plans to relax in his retirement but will always be grateful for his time on the force.
"I just appreciate the 40 years that I had to serve and that will always be a part of me," he said.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
2. Council terminates officer who allegedly solicited minor COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Columbus, Brooks collaborate for Crime Prevention Task Force COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Photos: Budweiser Clydesdales in Columbus COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Kosciusko men arrested for meth trafficking STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY