2022 OPOC Winner has been hand selected from Vaughan Garrett representing Garrett Metal Detectors.
Brad Johnson - Police Officer of the Community
There were several great nominees this year but ultimately, Vaughan went with Brad due to his contributions to others individually and to teams. Brad will be presented with a plaque courtesy of Garrett Metal Detectors during our opening ceremony.
Brad has been an LEO for almost twenty years and it is the only profession he's ever known. His earlier years were spent working in the jails, however several years ago, he decided he was ready to move to patrol. His career prior to that move wasn't always easy. I watched him interview for different divisions within his department, but nothing ever really panned out. I still believe that it was all meant to be. Moving to patrol was, undoubtedly, the most stressful time as a wife. However, that quickly transitioned to seeing Brad the happiest he'd ever been in his career. Brad absolutely LOVES getting to interact with the community and being able to help others. A couple years after moving to patrol, a Community Policing Deputy position for one of the cities within our county became available, and Brad has thrived ever since taking on that role. Sitting on the highway, writing tickets, isn't what truly makes him happy-getting to serve a community does. He spends a minimum of 40 hours strictly within that city, in addition to all the overtime and additional hours spent throughout the department.
I'll never forget one of the first times he helped someone in need. He responded to a call of a stolen bicycle. A young man relied on that bike to get to work everyday at a warehouse. Without it, he risked losing his job, which was his livelihood. Brad told me about the call and we decided we would get him a new bike. He got his crew to chip in, went to a local bike shop, who donated headlights and a bike lock, and they were able to surprise him with a replacement. The young man was SHOCKED when they showed up at his employer's facility with the gift.
During COVID, Brad missed the community interaction-he was used to hopping on his department bike and riding to school with kids regularly, stopping by senior citizen bingo lunches, and visiting all the local businesses to check in. They began having kiddos in the community leave sidewalk chalk messages for him to respond to, as well as print out and color paper Easter eggs, which they could virtually hide so he'd find them and take pictures with them. There was a woman in the community that he went to check on and he discovered that she actually had COVID. She was concerned about feeding her dog, so he purchased dog food and a gift card for her.
Shortly after that, he responded to a call with a woman who had a warrant. She also had small children and one of them was having a birthday that weekend. She expressed to Brad how hard things had been, the warrant was old and minor, but she was worried about missing her child's birthday as well as being able to provide her with gifts. That weekend, we went shopping for birthday gifts, which he delivered the next week.
One day, while eating lunch at the local restaurant in Edgerton, he noticed a man that he had previously had a number of encounters with. He knew that he was trying to get his life back on track, and take care of his children, so he paid for their lunch and some additional food they could take home.
At Christmas, we purchased a new set of tires for a senior citizen in the community who voluntarily runs the museum. Brad had talked about him numerous times since he'd taken on this role, but I'd never met him. He mentioned how he commented about not being able to leave town or get out much due to the condition of his tires. The city hands out little goodies to the seniors in town, so while doing that, Brad had me come down and we surprised this man by letting him know we had paid for and arranged for four new tires to be put on his car so that he could be safe. He also delivered gifts to the seniors in the community with Santa and Mrs. Claus, making note of gifts they could not find, so we could later go shopping for them.
Another example that always stands out to me is the time he pulled over a very young girl of color during the height of all of the protests. He said that she was visibly scared and nervous. He went out of his way to assure her that everything would be ok; that it was ok for her to relax; that he understood her anxiety, but that he promised he would get her on her way as soon as possible. He simply wanted a young driver to know she was safe. For Brad, it's always about being professional, yet empathetic; and creating a positive interaction with citizens.
Last summer, he came to me with an idea about wanting to raise enough funds to pay for school registration fees and supplies for EVERY CHILD at the elementary school. I thought it was great, but honestly, in the moment, I didn't really take him all that seriously. A couple months later, there we were, setting up for the police vs fire softball game he'd put together as part of this fundraiser. Over $35,000 was raised for the children of Edgerton. In addition to school fees and supplies being taken care of, he also helped to start funding for a hygiene closet at the school. Again this year, Brad organized the event, but added in a Cruise In and Movie Night as well. These brought out a variety of citizens that otherwise would normally never be together. The children were once again provided with all their school supplies and fees. In addition to the fundraiser this summer, Brad wanted to give the kids prizes while they were out playing in town. We purchased a bunch of toys that he was able to hand out, when children in the city found tickets he had hidden everywhere to redeem them.
Most recently, while on duty, Brad found a man from Texas, walking in the middle of the road here in Kansas. After taking quite a bit of time to figure out what was going on with him, Brad was able to call the man's father, who said he'd be missing for over a year. He was not able to care for himself and had some struggles, but went missing on foot. Brad kept him safe, bought him food and water, then assisted the father in securing a hotel room for the night. The next day he followed up with his father, and found out they had successfully been reunited.
Since moving to Patrol, Brad has also become CVSA certified, which I'm sure to most, may not mean much. But I have seen him hone in on drug and human trafficking. We have a number of friends that have been personally impacted by the Fentanyl epidemic, and although not traditional community policing, his stops and prevention indirectly aid our citizens. And it's because he cares about the well being of others.
In the handful of years since Brad moved to patrol, he has been nominated and received several distinguishing awards from his department, which most recently was for community, all that he's done for others, and the impact he's made.
I'm sure most officers who are passionate about community policing have a laundry list of examples of why they are outstanding, and Brad is no different. Every time he has an idea or wants to help, he makes it happen. And, it's not just the community he serves. Every time I want to help someone, he supports me, whether it's fostering another dog, donating money to someone in need, supporting my police wives group, volunteering time, or simply making sure he brings along police stickers and badges for the kids we'll see somewhere.
Brad is so incredibly generous, regardless of whether or not he's in uniform or on duty. And it's not about all the bigger things he's done to impact the community, it's also about the day to day interactions, because for him, I know it's not just what he does-it's who he is.