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Patrolman James Spencer Johnson | East Lansing Police Department, Michigan East Lansing Police Department, Michigan

Patrolman

James Spencer Johnson

East Lansing Police Department, Michigan

End of Watch: Thursday, October 25, 1984
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Reflections for Patrolman James Spencer Johnson

 

Hello –

Last weekend I spent a number of hours running in and around Lansing and East Lansing in the Capitol Area River Run. A good portion of the marathon wet into territory that I studied as a student, worked as a Patrol Officer, used to live in and again studied in accident investigation school. I spent much of the day concentrating on the run and did not want to dwell on a topic that always comes to mind when I go to East Lansing. The tragic murder of East Lansing Officer Jim Johnson. While I managed to set that memory aside during the run I find it impossible today and so this mail to all of you that I know will understand what it means to loose men and women who stood tall.

Jim would say that he did not treat me special as a rookie or did he offer friendship that was above what he offered to all, but his normal seemed special to me. I felt helped and respected. He provided insight for me into this new profession, and a great balance of humor and focus that helped me move forward and remain safe. I can still see the laughter in his eyes and recall how he moved with ease when interacting with a citizen and how he moved with appropriate tension in a unknown situation. He, along with a number of other great Officers, taught me balance.

When I started to run longer distances I soon found out that lack of talent and big and slow were not attributes that got me the last 3 miles of a 13 or 26 mile run. I did learn that I could be inspired by the courage of those in the law enforcement profession and more specifically the courage of those that we have lost along the way. For many of my early runs I thought of Jim and his sacrifice for the community. I felt that my memory of him kept him close and my run would be, although inadequate, a tribute to his service. Soon after those early half marathons I decided to dedicate each race I completed to the memory and sacrifice of men and women lost in service to their communities.

My family joined me on a number of events as members of TEAM DOUBLE HAMMER (named so to reflect the sound of my foot falls – pound pound) and they also proudly support the teams goal of honor those we have lost. In doing so we hope to remind citizens that police officers are part of the fabric of life and when lost there is a huge tear that is not easily mended. When we honor those that have gone before us we also support those that are here in service.

Below is the message that I wear on my shirt during a race.

EACH YEAR OVER 130 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE KILLED IN THE
LINE OF DUTY. FOREVER BOUND BY AN UNBREAKABLE BOND OF VALOR.
THOUGH WE MAY GRIEVE, WE MUST EMPHATICALLY REJECT DESPAIR....

I RUN – BECAUSE THEY CAN NOT.

Please take a minute to read the information on Jim that is attached. I struggled to run out the last ¾ of a mile on Sunday and once again used the “ fallen but not forgotten” to give me a firm push on my back as I ran to the end and then crossing the finish line gave them another measure of the honor and respect their lives inspired.

MARK BARTELL
77-79 EAST LANSING POLICE
September 22, 2015

Many years ago I was a student at the University of Michigan, and I became friends with a girl named Nicole. I already wanted to join the State Police in New Jersey, a fact that all my friends knew.

One day, Nicole and I were talking about our future careers. She wanted to be a doctor. When I commented again on my plans to go into law enforcement, her eyes filled with tears. She told me the story of her father, Officer Johnson, who was killed in the line of duty in East Lansing. She grabbed the front of my shirt and said to me, "Don't you dare get killed. Don't you dare."

After graduation Nicole and I stayed in touch for a year or so - she was dating a close friend of mine - and then we drifted apart, as often happens. I haven't talked to her in over a decade, but when things get squirrely at work, I remember the promise I made to her.

RIP, Officer Johnson. You are not forgotten.

Detective II
New Jersey State Police
July 20, 2011

A message long overdue. To the family and friends of Ofc. Johnson: the death of Ofc. Johnson is the reason I became a police officer.

To those who remember. When Ofc. Johnson was killed a photograph appeared on the front page of the State News. It was a photo of him being rushed out of that building by the paramedics. I took that picture. I was a journalism student at MSU at the time. I thought I was something.

But my coverage of that event, and the subsequent funeral, changed my perspective and sent me down a different career path. I was in awe of his sacrifice and of the camaraderie of his colleagues. I realized that what they were doing with their lives was more important than what I was doing with mine.

I completed my degeree in journalism and promptly erolled in the police academy. I worked for a Detroit suburb for 21 years. I retired and am now an officer for a small resort town in northern Michigan. I wouldn't change any of it.

I think of Ofc. Johnson often.

Ofc. David Heater
Harbor Springs (MI) Police Dept.
May 25, 2011

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 25th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

To your family: I understand the meaning of lives forever altered, and know that the hurt of losing a beloved never goes away...the pain and pride are forever. I pray for your solace.

Rest In Peace, Jim.

Phyllis Loya

Anonymous
October 25, 2009

Jim

My thoughts turned to you this day. Rest in peace brother.

ICSO 1967 to 1995

John

John Conaty Captain retired
Ingham County Sheriff Office
January 19, 2009

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, REST IN PEACE.

N.J. TROOPER
NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE
February 29, 2008

"The Badge"
He starts his shift each day
To respond to calls unknown.
He drives a marked patrol car.
A police officer he is known.
He's paid by the citizens' taxes
To make it safe on the streets.
But he usually has a second job
'Cause a waitress has his salary beat.
Now he doesn't know a holiday
'Cause he works all year round.
And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally arrive
At his home he cannot be found.
He's cursed and assaulted often,
The one whos blood runs blue.
He seldom ever gets a thanks,
To some he's just a fool.
His friends are always other cops
'Cause people just don't understand
That underneath his badge and gun,
He's just another man.
He knows there might not be a tomorrow
In this world of drugs and crime.
And he gets so mad at the court system
'Cause the crooks don't get any time.
And each day when he leaves for work,
He prays to God above.
Please bring me home after my shift
So I can see the ones I love.
But tonight he stops a speeding car,
He's alone down this ole' highway.
It's just a little traffic infraction.
He does it everyday.
Well, he walks up to the driver's window,
And his badge is shining bright.
He asked the guy for a driver's license,
When a shot rang through the night.
Yes, the bullet hit its mark,
Striking the officer in the chest.
But the Department's budget didn't buy
Each officer a bullet-proof vest.
So he lay on the ground bleeding.
His blood wasn't blue - His blood was red.
And briefly he thought of his loved ones
'Cause in a moment the officer was dead.
In the news they told the story
Of how this officer had died.
And some who listened cared less,
But those who loved him cried.
Well, they buried him in uniform
With his badge pinned on his chest.
He even had his revolver,
He died doing his best.
Written By:
David L. Bell
Sergeant
Richland County Sheriff's Department
Columbia, South Carolina
Used with Special Permission of the Author
Copyright © 1999 - All Rights Reserved
and may not be duplicated without permission

Investigator David L Bell
Richland County Sheriff's Dept., Columbia, SC
November 14, 2007

You are remembered today and thank you Sir for your service

VAnDenBerghe
NH
October 20, 2007

G-d Bless.


October 25, 2006

On the anniversary of your death, I salute you for your service and honor you for your sacrifice.

A hero never dies....

Rest in peace, hero.


October 25, 2004

Office Johnson,

I was a Police Explorer at the time you ended your Tour. I remember distributing flyers in Charlotte to let the citizens know that there were going to be hundreds of Police Cars parking in front of their houses. I remember being in front of the church when they brought you out and being called to attention then salute. A lot of Police Officers began crying. This is etched in my mind for ever. I still grieve your loss and will never forget your ultimate sacrafice to society. I remember talking to Dan Purtill who would not talk a lot about it because he knew that I would be deeply effected because of my age. I remember seeing you at the East Lansing football games on Friday nights too.

Your memory is one of the things that keeps me serving the public and giving me purpose when times are tough.

Deputy
Ingham County Sheriff's Office
April 14, 2004

Rest easy, brother. You are not forgotten. Never.

Deputy M. Moore
Warren County S.O. (OH)

 
 

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