Family's a Big Deal
For Anne Arundel County Sheriff
George Johnson, family is
what it's all about. His wife, his kids, his siblings, his parents---they've
all helped him become the man he is today. "The nurturing family
that I've had over the years has helped me succeed," he says.
"So even when things get hectic, I make sure my family's needs
Over the years Johnson's father, who died two years ago, and his
wife of 22 years have played pivotal roles in his life. "My father
had as big a part in my adult life as he did in my upbringing.
He was my mentor and best friend." Johnson says much of what he
has done with his life has been his way of carrying on his father's
dreams---working as a police
officer, running for sheriff and being involved in politics. "I've
been able to do everything that he wanted to do, but I couldn't
have done it without him. He always stressed how important it
is to separate yourself from the crowd, and he taught me how important
honesty, integrity and a sense of commitment are."
Johnson describes his wife Linda as a tremendous partner who has
been right beside him every step of the way. "I couldn't have
done it without her. She's amazing." Johnson met his bride while
on the job as a county police officer. At that time, he patrolled
Severna Park and she was the manager of a convenience store. "I
stopped by, started up a conversation, and it went from there.
We dated for a while and then one day, I looked her in the eyes
and knew this was the woman I was meant to spend the rest of my
Both had been married previously, and Linda had a daughter, Hope,
from her first marriage. "But I consider her my daughter. I've
been there through it all with her," he says. Together, they have
two sons, George and David. They also have two grandchildren.
"I'm extremely proud of them all. I've done my best to try to
inspire them like my father inspired me throughout my life. I
wanted to offer my children and grandchildren that special gift."
With his many commitments, Johnson has little free time. But when
he does find himself with a few, precious spare moments, he enjoys
just being able to come home to a night of watching television
and talking with his family. "As silly as that might sound, if
I get the opportunity to spend some quality time with them talking
or relaxing, I'm in heaven."
Johnson, who has lived in Pasadena since 1986, has spent most
of his life in Anne Arundel County. Before moving to Glen Burnie
when he was 6, Johnson's family lived in Baltimore in Brooklyn
Park. He describes the area as a close- knit, middle-class neighborhood.
His grandmother and great-grandmother lived just around the corner.
"We had a great relationship with our extended family. I used
to love to spend the weekend with my great-grandmother. My most
vivid memory is catching the bus with her so that we could do
her shopping in Baltimore City."
The family moved to Anne Arundel County because Johnson's parents
felt that the area had lots to offer their young family. "I'm
really glad they made that decision. I grew up in a great neighborhood.
I still keep in contact with lots of friends from the old neighborhood."
He is the oldest of five children. Johnson's siblings---one brother
and three sisters---are, and have always been, an important part
of his life. He says they still get together on a regular basis
for cookouts and family birthdays. "We've always been there for
each other. I think my relationship with them and my parents has
helped me know how to deal with people, and that's important in
my line of work."
Johnson enjoyed playing baseball, basketball and football throughout
his youth, but baseball was his true love. In fact, he dreamed
of being a professional baseball player and some thought he was
good enough to succeed. At the age of 15, he was selected to try
out for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Johnson, who was an infielder,
was up against 19- and 20-year-olds. He didn't make the team,
but he was asked to play for the all-stars that played at Memorial
Stadium. "During my high school years, I came to realize that
most likely that dream was not to be. So instead I concentrated
on enjoying what time I had on the Cardinal Gibbon High School
Though his first dream was of baseball, Johnson's attention was
drawn to police work at a high school career day when a Baltimore
City officer came in to talk. "He looked so sharp in his uniform,
and the more he talked the more I got interested." Johnson's fate
was sealed when he turned to his father for advice. "I found out
my father had wanted to be a police officer also, but because
of height requirements, he was unable to do so." So at the age
of 18, Johnson became an Anne Arundel County police cadet. He
spent three years in this role and more than 22 years as an officer
and commander. "It was wonderful. I never regretted my decision
for a moment from high school to today."
Johnson, who is at the end of his second term, has served as Anne
Arundel County Sheriff for almost eight years. He became interested
in the position when he reached a point in his career when he
could retire. "I was searching for some- where that would benefit
from my experience. I had been following the sheriff's office.
I felt this was someplace I could really make a difference, and
I'm proud of the job I've done so far." His vision for the future
of the office is one of accreditation. "That would be an indication
for residents that we are performing at the highest level possible."
He also would like to see his deputies receive pay and benefits
equal to other police officers. "They give 110 percent every day
and have been essential in turning around the office. They deserve
to be rewarded."
And what does Johnson feel the future has in store for him? "I
just want to do the best job I can both in my personal and professional
life. I want to be a good husband, a good father, a good son and
a good American. I want the people who come in contact with me
to see me as a kind and compassionate person, who left things
a little better than they were before."