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Johnston steps up as chief of police

POSTED: July 22, 2014 3:12 p.m.
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New Statham Chief of Police Allan Johnston, left, is sworn into the new role by Mayor Robert Bridges.

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Former Statham Assistant Chief of Police Allan Johnston was sworn in as the city’s new chief of police on Wednesday morning.

Johnston’s promotion is a result of the transition of former Chief of Police Steve Martin to his new role as the city administrator, which he officially began Friday.

Martin said the transition for Johnston from assistant chief to chief will be “easy,” because Johnston has already been handling a lot of the operations of the department.

 “He is a great asset to the City and (we) are proud to have him at the helm of our department,” Martin said Wednesday in a post on the Statham Police Department’s Facebook page.

Johnston said he didn’t have much warning about the promotion until it was already happening.

“I found out sitting on the couch watching ‘Andy Griffith’ with my daughter,” Johnston said. “Steve called me and said, ‘Are you ready? You’re the chief.’”

Johnston said Martin had already been keeping him well in the loop when they worked together as chief and assistant chief, so the transition has not been a “culture shock.”

This is Johnston’s 27th year policing, he said. He started his police career with the Athens Police Department in 1987 and worked with them until they completed the consolidation of their department with the Clarke County Police Department.

After the consolidation of the two departments, Johnston was the chief of Winterville’s police department in the ‘90s.

“Winterville was a really small town, even smaller than (Statham),” Johnston said. “The department there was basically only one full-time officer, and that was me as the chief.”

Johnston said in Winterville he had 10 part-time officers who worked with him, but their coverage was not 24 hours; after 2 a.m. the Athens-Clarke County PD would pick it up.

Following his time with the Winterville PD, Johnston worked for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as an investigator as well as patrol officer and school resource supervisor. He worked there until 2011, at which point he came onto the Statham PD force.

As Statham’s chief of police, Johnston said he will now continue to handle the duties he had previously, as well as take over the operations that Martin dealt with exclusively, such as interacting with the Georgia Crime Investigation Center and ensuring warrants are removed after they’ve been served.

Johnston, who has a son, a daughter, a grandson and a granddaughter on the way, said his biggest personal passion is children.

“Child crimes have not been spotlighted in the media as much, but those really tug at your heart,” Johnston said. “It’s a really tough crime to work, because being a dad myself, it really makes you wonder, ‘How could somebody do this?’”

Education—not necessarily in the school setting, but teaching the difference between right and wrong—is the key to helping these children and breaking the “circle of violence,” Johnston said.

“(Children) are the future,” Johnston said. “If we don’t protect our kids, we’ve got a pretty bleak future ahead of us.”

Johnston said the City is not promoting a replacement assistant chief of police at this time, though they will advertise for a regular officer position. Until another full-time officer is hired, a part-time officer will be filling in.

 

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