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 come first."

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 life with."

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 team."

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."


What event in the Annapolis area are you most looking forward to in 2006?

Powerboat Show
Sailboat Show
Renaissance Festival
Seafood Festival
County Fair

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