He has only been on the force for a little more than three years, but already Payson Police Officer Joseph Johnson has secured his place among some of the town’s best.
On Wednesday, the Sons of the American Revolution named Johnson Officer of the Year. The Sons group crowns a top officer and firefighter each year.
In June, Fire Marshal Bob Lockhart received the honor right before the town council eliminated his position.
Standing with his two young sons by his side, Johnson said he was honored to receive the award.
Johnson, who attended Payson High School, almost didn’t make it into the law enforcement field.
Although he knew early on he wanted to pursue the career, his wife wasn’t so sure.
“My wife was not real comfortable with me becoming a cop,” he said.
So, he trolled through construction jobs until finally deciding to apply three years ago.
He was hired by the PPD on his first attempt and has not “looked back.”
“Law enforcement has been everything I imagined it would be,” he said. “I joined the police force to serve my community and that is what I aim to do. I love people and this is the perfect platform to be able to meet many, many different types of people and affect their lives, hopefully in a positive way.”
Police Chief Don Engler, who recommended Johnson for the award, said he couldn’t be happier with Johnson’s work on the force. And quite a few residents agree.
Engler referenced a letter he had just received from a citizen who met Johnson on a traffic stop.
The man, a Payson resident, writes that Johnson stopped him in the early morning hours for a traffic infraction.
A former law enforcement officer with 20 years’ experience, including supervisory, middle management and training officers, the man writes that he “tends to pay to attention to details when observing officers doing their job.”
Not only was Johnson courteous, his directions were clear and firm and he had good control of the situation, he wrote.
“Officer Johnson’s appearance and the way he conducted himself was very professional,” according to the man. “Officer Johnson’s courtesy and officer survival skills, knowledge of the law and appearance are a credit to the department and he should be commended. If all the officers are this professional, the Town of Payson is indeed very lucky.”
“I couldn’t say it any better myself,” Engler said.
He even completes his reports in a timely manner, Engler added, to which several administrative workers at Wednesday’s awards ceremony clapped.
But not all were convinced of Johnson’s greatness.
Johnson’s 5-year-old son, Jason, said his dad can sometimes “be a brat.”
“Ah, the rest of the story,” Engler said laughing.
Jason added he wanted to go into the military while Johnson’s other son, Joey, 7, said he wanted to be a cop just like his dad.