By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
The city of Monroe honored Monroe Police Sgt. Derrel Johnson last week at an emotional ceremony held during the council meeting. Sgt. Johnson, who has been with the Monroe Police Department for 28 years, will be retiring at the end of the month.
Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer presented Sgt. Johnson with a Chief’s coin, and highlighted the milestones in Johnson’s career with the Monroe Police Department along with several other accomplishments.
Sgt. Johnson began with the Monroe Police Department in 1986 as a reserve officer. He became fulltime in 1989, and was promoted to Sergeant in Sept. of 1992. He was a field training officer, helping to train many new officers as they joined the force. He was also instrumental in supporting the Monroe Police and Fire Chaplain program, serving at times as a liaison between the department and Monroe’s churches.
Quenzer stated that Sgt. Johnson was always willing to help anyone in need, often providing financial aid out of his own pocket.
“It is with great pride that I acknowledge Sgt. Johnson for his dedication, professionalism and integrity in serving this department and the citizens of Monroe,” said Quenzer.
From at-risk youth to the elderly, Monroe Police Sgt. Derrel Johnson made an impact, and several members of the community came forward to honor his service to the citizens of Monroe. Monroe Pastor Michael Hanford became acquainted with Sgt. Johnson through his work with the chaplain program, and accompanied the Sergeant on many ride-alongs.
Pastor Hanford described Johnson’s interactions with local at-risk youth who found themselves in trouble with the law. Johnson would refer to them as “knuckleheads.”
“And that’s refreshing,” said Pastor Hanford, “because it reflects the hope, the true fatherly concern and urgency to help to motivate them to stop making those choices.”
He described what it was like, riding along with Johnson.
“Many of those ‘knuckleheads’ would come up to Derrel’s car, when I was in it, and thank him,” said Hanford.
Hanford was choked with emotion as he expressed his gratitude to Sgt. Johnson for his service to the community.
“I’m pretty emotional about this because I love him and I love his family,” said Hanford.
Monroe City Executive Assistant Eadye Johnson Martinson, who is Sgt. Johnson’s sister, also gave a heartfelt testimony.
“This is my little brother, Derrel,” said Martinson.
Martinson recalled growing up with Sgt. Johnson, remembering his good humor and amusing antics which resulted in a lot of childhood laughter. She then expressed to ceremony attendees that she wanted to speak on behalf of their parents, explaining that their father passed away in 2000, and their mother has been stricken with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Derrel, I really wish Mom could be here today. Although she may not be able to recognize you anymore, I know her pride in you was endless,” said Martinson. “Her love for you was unconditional and her memories of the happy times are all locked in her heart forever.”
“Mom and Dad would be so proud of your career and how you’ve developed so many great relationships with the citizens in Monroe, and especially with the elderly,” continued Martinson.
She then, in a light moment, chided her brother for retiring before her.
Councilman Kevin Hanford also expressed deep gratitude to Sgt. Johnson. Hanford explained that, with raising foster children, one of the great challenges he and his wife face is working to change the negative viewpoints some of the kids have towards law enforcement.
Hanford said that they sometimes see police officers in a less-than-positive light due to past experiences, and he tries to instill in them the understanding that police officers like Sgt. Johnson are the ones they should trust.
“He always was the perfect example of an officer that you could trust,” said Hanford.
Attendees of Sgt. Johnson’s retirement ceremony included former Monroe Mayor Donnetta Walser, Sgt. Cindy Chessie, Sgt. Brian Johnston and many other members of the Monroe Police Force. Sgt. Rick Dunn presented Johnson with a display case filled with many of his department milestones including his reserve badges, his officer badge, his 20-year recognition badge and his Sergeant’s badge.
Cake was served at the police station after the ceremony.