Johnson is Discovery Bay’s new chief of police – taking the reins from Lt. Mike Burton. And for the seasoned lawman, the fresh assignment is reminiscent of a previous beat.
“I was out here as a deputy years ago when Discovery Bay was still being built,” said Johnson. “So to be out here now in this position feels like coming home again.”
Serving as Blackhawk’s police chief for the past six years, the Walnut Creek native comes to the Discovery Bay patrol with a wealth of experience and a feel for the uniqueness of the Delta community.
“My time in Blackhawk will serve me well coming into Discovery Bay,” said Johnson, who is married and has a teenage daughter. “The communities are, of course, very different, but they have some similarities as well, especially in the gated communities.”
Johnson also comes to the job with an interesting background. A languages major at UC Santa Barbara – he’s fluent in Russian and French – Johnson first became interested in law enforcement as a campus security officer during college. When he later became a member of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, he was involved in a property dispute between a divorced couple arguing over restraining orders and land rights. Unable to speak knowledgeably to their attorneys regarding the law, Johnson decided he would get his law degree – and never feel uncomfortable in that situation again.
“It bothered me that I couldn’t speak to the situation properly,” said Johnson. “So I went back to school at night. I have actually found it very helpful in mediating disputes. It allows me to better do my job.”
The now senior officer in Delta Station has been involved in field operations, administration and support services during his tenure with the department. And although Johnson is aware he has big shoes to fill replacing the popular Burton, he has nothing but praise for the job his predecessor has done.
“I’ve inherited a station house without many problems,” said Johnson. “Mike has done a fantastic job here. I don’t have the intimidation factor that Mike has, but I believe I have strong people skills and I feel confident I can mediate any disputes that arise. That’s something I think I bring to the table.”
For the moment, Johnson is focusing on getting the lay of the land, meeting the local residents and officials and listening to what they have to say.
“I’m just getting to meet the deputies and my staff and the residents and getting a feel for what they believe are the important issues out here,” said Johnson, who said that so far, speeding and juveniles top the list of concerns. “Discovery Bay has grown since I was here, and it is now the biggest part of the area that we serve. I look forward to the job and I’m happy to be here. I’m ready to get started.”