By David Kapitan
The city of Wills Point will have some big shoes to fill in the coming weeks, working to find a replacement for retiring Police Chief Scott Johnson. According to City Manager Mike Ohrt, Johnson officially tendered his resignation on July 18. The resignation will become official on Aug. 15.
Johnson, who has been with the department for 19 years, and police chief for the past seven, explained his decision. “I’ve been doing police work for 38.5 years. You know, it’s just time. I’m almost 64 and it’s just time for someone new to come in and do this.”
Johnson’s law enforcement experience includes stints with the Desoto PD and the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office. The move doesn’t come as a full stop for Johnson, with the retiring chief making the transition from the city of Wills Point to the Wills Point ISD.
Johnson was quick to point out, “I’m going to work for the school, but not as a police officer or anything like that.” His new schedule will also allow for more family time, with summer’s off and a more predictable work schedule.
“I’ve had the privilege of being in public service for most of my adult life. I was in the military for four years, and been in police work for the past 38.5 years. I’ve seen a lot of things, some good and a lot bad. I’ve enjoyed tremendously working for this city and I care deeply for this city, the officers that are here and the city workers. I’m going to miss them. I’m sure that I’m going to hear a siren one of these days and wish that I was back here, but honest and truly you get to a point in your life that you need to pass it on and let someone else that’s younger and knows a lot more take it on.”
Ohrt gave the city’s perspective on the retirement news, noting, “When he first talked about retiring, I tried to talk him out of it. I told him to think about it, go home and talk to his family because once he handed in a letter, it would put a process in motion that I couldn’t stop. I know he’s looking forward to a change of pace. I can only imagine the stresses of doing that job and being on call 24/7 can put on you and your family. I’m sure his family is excited by the decision. He will be missed by everyone here at the city. It’s sad to see him go, but I’m excited for what this next chapter will bring for him and his family.”
Ohrt added that the city has not established a timetable yet to fill the position, and that an interim could be named until a permanent replacement could be found. Once started, the interview process will likely be conducted by the city council, with Ohrt appointing someone to fill the position.
City leaders have tentatively set an Aug. 7 date to recognize Johnson for his service to the city. Additional information about the reception will be posted in multiple places, including the Chronicle Facebook page and in the Aug. 1 edition of the paper.