Cynthiana police chief receives Chamber’s first Public Safety Award

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By Becky Barnes

Ray Johnson moved with his family to Cynthiana, his wife’s hometown, in 1989.

Shortly after the move, Johnson, who received the 2012 Public Safety Award from the Chamber of Commerce, was approached about applying to the Cynthiana Police Department.

Johnson had worked in home construction and hospital maintenance in his home state of New Jersey, but was intrigued by the prospects of joining local law enforcement with encouragement from Cynthiana officers Ted Olin and Mike Sosbe, whom he got to know by stopping at Penn Chevron on Main Street. The station was owned by his wife, JaneAnn’s uncle, J.T. Penn.

Johnson’s introduction was with the Cynthiana’s auxiliary police unit, which he served from 1991 to 1993. In May 1993, Johnson began his 10-week Department of  Criminal Justice basic training at the police academy in Richmond. That has since grown to an 18-week program.

After his 10 weeks, Johnson said he was given his cruiser and told to hit the road.

“There were no FTOs (field training officers) back then,” Johnson said. “You got on-the-job training.”

Johnson, who has 20 years with the Cynthiana Police Department, served as a patrolman until 1998 when he received his first promotion to sergeant. In 2004 he was promoted to assistant chief and then appointed chief of police in November 2008.

Johnson, like other Cynthiana officers, had to test for each level of promotion.

JaneAnn moved to Cynthiana with their four boys first, while Ray stayed behind in Camden, N.J., for a few months to await the move.

The couple’s boys are now adults, Bobby, 24, Chris, 27, Ray Jr., 33, and Scott, 41. They also have three granddaughters, Jaclyn, 10 weeks, Payton, 4, and Madison, 12.

Johnson maintains that the chief of police needs to be vested in the community he serves. He has done so by being part of several boards and committees, including: a charter member of the Cynthiana Rod Run committee, charter member and facilitator for the Cabinet for Family Services, member of the Champions for a Drug-Free Harrison County, member of the Harrison County Drug Court board, members of Agency for Substance Abuse Policies (ASAP), works with the Chamber for events that would require police presence or traffic control, works with the school system to provide officers at ball games and other events, works with the court system on Teen Court, a member of the Kentucky Chiefs of Police Association, member of the National Chiefs of Police Association, 20-plus-year member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Elks Lodge 438, the Knights of Columbus, E-911 board, Emergency Preparedness Community Partners, Healthy Communities Partnership, and partner of the National Child Safety Council.

Johnson was featured in the Kentucky Law Enforcement magazine in the fall of 2012 under the heading: “Partnered, Purposeful and Pushing Forward.”

In addition to the 2012 Chamber recognition, Johnson was also received an ASAP award.

He is also a member of St. Edwards Parish.

He oversees 15 officers and a police clerk as well as the 911 center.

“I’m the go-to person,” Johnson said. “It’s been a good job so far. I like the challenge that everyday is something different.”

Johnson said he is willing to talk to local groups and organizations about crime prevention as well as any number of scams that come up during the year.

“It’s important to know how not to be a victim,” Johnson said.

He said working with the police gives him the opportunity to help people in the community with different issues and at different times.

Johnson said he sees a younger department than in past years.

 “We’re grooming new officers to be safer in the line of duty.”