Johnson, current director of the Internal Affairs Division, has served as the LGBT liaison since July 2010. As of presstime, a new liaison had not been named.
Johnson’s retirement was announced at a press conference last Friday, in which the department unveiled a larger reorganization plan that included 36 command changes resulting from retirements, promotions and position restructuring.
Of the department’s nine deputy commissioners, four, including Johnson, will leave by January. Deputy Commissioner Denise Turpin will assume their duties, including supervision of Internal Affairs.
Police spokesperson Lt. John Stanford said that, as Turpin will take on Johnson’s IA role, there is a “good possibility” she could assume the LGBT liaison responsibilities, but that has yet to be determined.
Johnson, 61, joined the PPD in 1977 and said the time felt right for retirement.
“I made the decision a while ago with the reorganization and everything going on that this was an opportune time to get out and seek some other endeavors,” he said.
His last day hasn’t been decided but Johnson said it will be before January.
Throughout his career, Johnson was assigned to a number of districts, put in time with the Highway Patrol Unit and was promoted through the ranks until his 2008 appointment as deputy commissioner, one of his proudest achievements.
“Making deputy commissioner under Commissioner Ramsey was an accomplishment,” Johnson said. “He came from an outside department and he chose me from among the many candidates he could’ve considered, so I thought that was an honor.”
Also among his list of successes was his appointment to supervise a detail at the 2009 presidential inauguration.
Johnson was named LGBT liaison following the retirement of Chief Inspector James Tiano, who held the role for more than a decade.
In terms of his LGBT work, Johnson said he doesn’t think he was in the position long enough to have “left a legacy.”
However, LGBT liaison committee chair Franny Price said the deputy commissioner was a welcome addition to the team.
“I really grew to like him a lot,” Price said. “We had such a wonderful liaison with Tiano that I didn’t know how someone new would work out, but I was amazed how I instantly liked him. We all grew fond of him and are going to miss him.”
Price said Johnson was a reliable source of information for and about LGBT victims and crimes that impacted the community.
“I don’t think there was ever one issue that he didn’t follow through on as far as getting us answers,” she said.
Committee secretary Rick Lombardo said Johnson took his responsibilities seriously.
“He brought us to a higher level. With Tiano, we were at one place and I think [Johnson] took us to the next step for accountability,” he said. “There’s still a lot of distrust out there in the community, and he bridged that to a large extent. His integrity was second to none.”
Lombardo said Johnson’s seniority at Internal Affairs was often helpful in securing information the committee requested, and he expressed hope that his replacement will hold a similar position.
Johnson said he’s taking away his own lessons from the committee.
“I was most impressed by how hard these people worked to create an environment of equality,” he said. “I was impressed by their dedication and their work ethic when it came to extending themselves to rectify situations of prejudice in our city.”
Even though he is retiring from the department, Johnson said he is still eager to put his decades of police work to good use.
“It’s too premature to talk about other employment opportunities but I definitely still want to work,” he said. “I have some vitality that I feel I can contribute to the work of law enforcement for some time into the future. I’m looking forward to the next challenge.”