Arlington names new police chief

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- Hours after a tornado tore through Arlington's western edge last April, Assistant Police Chief Will Johnson suddenly found himself with a greater responsibility than just helping with the city's storm-recovery efforts.

City Manager Trey Yelverton asked Johnson last April 3 to temporarily step in for Police Chief Theron Bowman, who the day before had been tapped to fill a vacant deputy city manager position overseeing neighborhood services.

"The community was in crisis. There was a great need. I really didn't at that point in time have a chance to reflect on what it might mean to be interim chief," said Johnson, who has served on Bowman's command staff since 2007.

After 11 months of serving in that temporary role, Johnson, 40, said he was honored that Yelverton named him Arlington's new police chief on Wednesday.

"I am extremely humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the city manager's executive team, to serve our community and to continue working with the men and woman of the Police Department to make Arlington better," Johnson said.

He will take control of a department with 829 personnel and an $86 million budget.

Johnson's salary is $153,000.

Johnson joined the Police Department in 1997 and moved up the ranks, serving as deputy chief in 2007 and then assistant chief in 2008. Among his accomplishments, Johnson led department and regional law enforcement planning efforts for Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium.

"We do have a strong regional role because of the events that we host here," Yelverton said. "His teamwork and working with other federal, state and local jurisdictions was exemplary," adding that he has been impressed with communication and crime-reduction initiatives that Johnson has recently implemented.

Arlington began conducting an internal search for the new police chief about mid-January. Assistant Chiefs James Hawthorne, a 28-year veteran, and Jaime Ayala, 24-year veteran, also applied for the job.

Natural step up

Mayor Robert Cluck called Johnson "a natural to step up to that position" and said he was especially proud of Johnson's and the Police Department's efforts to make the Super Bowl XLV two years ago a safe experience for visitors.

"He is totally dedicated to public safety," Cluck said. "I am very pleased and happy that he is our police chief."

In addition to his various leadership roles, Johnson's experience at the department includes work in internal affairs, media relations, crime prevention, patrol, field training and being a bicycle officer.

Johnson described the vetting process, which included assessments by area police chiefs, police labor representatives and citizens, as "vigorous and thorough."

"The culmination of all the experiences I have had throughout my career have really prepared me for this next leadership role," he said.

In January 2012, the Police Department launched an ambitious goal to cut the city's crime rate in half within three years. Arlington's crime rate, which has steadily declined the past few years, fell by 11 percent in fiscal year 2012 compared to the previous fiscal year.

"At the end of the day, the police chief's job is about continuing to reduce crime and minimize the perception of crime. That is his key challenge," Yelverton said. "I believe he can work with his team to continue to innovate and deploy resources in the most impactful way to address the issues that our community has."

Mentor and friend

Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Texas Tech University and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from TCU. Before joining the Arlington department, he worked three years as a patrol officer for the city of Carrollton.

"When I graduated from college and entered into police work, I never once thought this day might come. I had mentors along the way that saw something in me realistically a long time before I might have seen that potential in myself," Johnson said.

"T. Bowman was one of those leaders. I'm grateful for both his mentorship and his friendship that he has provided me throughout the years and look forward to continuing to work with him on the neighborhood services team."

Bowman, who served more than 12 years as police chief, was officially appointed in October to serve as the deputy city manager overseeing neighborhood services.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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