'He raised the bar'
Dozens of city and school officials, first responders and community members gathered at City Hall this week to say thank you and goodbye to "the most reasonable man in the room."
Police Chief Don Johnson announced earlier this year that he will retire on July 1, ending a 39-year career — including seven years in Lake Oswego — in which he continually stressed the value of relationships, embodied the idea of community policing and became the staunchest advocate of the LOPD's "no call too small" philosophy.
Johnson's impact on the community was clear Monday, when a parade of well-wishers walked to the front of the council chambers to wish him the best and recount his accomplishments.
During Johnson's tenure, several speakers noted, the LOPD became the first law enforcement agency in Oregon to place AEDs in every police vehicle; under his guidance, the department has also been a leader in carrying Naloxone to treat opiate overdoses.
Along with Lake Oswego Fire Chiefs Ed Wilson and Larry Goff, Johnson led the charge for community CPR training. He has also served on the board of the Children's Center, which supports Clackamas County children and families experiencing suspected physical, sexual or emotional abuse and neglect. And he was one of the driving forces behind state legislation that gives law enforcement officers new tools to protect victims of domestic violence.
Eriks Gabliks, director of the state's Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, joked that Johnson was "the Energizer rabbit of law enforcement."
"He raised the bar," Gabliks said.
There was a fair amount of teasing, too — especially in a 15-minute video produced by LOPD Sgt. Clayton Simon that poked fun at everything from Johnson's long work hours and his eating habits to the fact that he and his wife Denise will be returning to California in retirement. In one scene, City Manager Scott Lazenby and Assistant City Manager Megan Phalen plotted to keep Johnson from retiring by not signing the official forms or giving him his last paycheck. "That could work," Lazenby said.
But Lazenby also called Johnson "one of the best police chiefs I have known," a sentiment that was echoed repeatedly in the video and in person Monday by city and school leaders, colleagues and community members who often referred to Johnson as a friend.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate you," said an emotional Capt. Dale Jorgensen, who will become Lake Oswego's new police chief on July 1, "and how much you've taught me and our department."
For his part, Johnson thanked his wife, his colleagues and a community that "taught me a lot about myself and about the idea of approaching life with heart."
"I entered this profession with a lot of hope," he said, "and I'm leaving with that same hope."
— Gary M. Stein
SEE THE VIDEO
LOPD Sgt. Clayton Simon produced a 15-minute video in honor of Chief Don Johnson's retirement. Watch it online at tinyurl.com/LOPDVideo.