Church Hill police chief resigning after 35 years in department

Jeff Bobo • Sep 11, 2018 at 4:09 PM

CHURCH HILL — The Church Hill Police Department has enjoyed substantial success since retiring Chief Mark Johnson took over in 1995, success which Johnson attributes to the officers in his department.

In recent years, Church Hill has been lauded at both the state and national level for its low crime rate, high percentage of cases solved and, earlier this year, for being among the 20 safest cities in Tennessee.

“We can’t take total credit for that,” Johnson told the Times News Tuesday. “There’s a lot of good residents in Church Hill who are law-abiding, but we do have a good record that goes way back that we tend to solve crimes at a higher percentage than the state and national average.”

Johnson added, “That’s just a testament to the officers and detectives that we’ve had over the years.”

Johnson announced Tuesday that after 35 years in the department and 23 years as chief he will be resigning as of the end of business hours Thursday, Sept. 20. He said he’s not retiring, but he’s not yet ready to announce his plans.

On Sept. 20, the town will host a drop-by reception for him from 2-4 p.m. at the Church Hill Senior Citizens building located at 412 E. Main Blvd.

Johnson is a Church Hill native, was a star player on the Church Hill High School football team before graduating in 1979 and joined the CHPD in 1983 while he was a senior at East Tennessee state University.

He became interim police chief in 1992 while Chief Wiley “Bucky” Cooper was recovering from illness and served in that capacity until being appointed full-time chief and public safety director in January 1995.

Johnson said that he feels the CHPD has been among the more progressive departments in the region during his time as chief.

“We were first in the county to go to 12-hour shifts for officers, which I think has proven to be beneficial for officers and their families overall,” Johnson said. “We were first in the county to go to take-home patrol cars, first to have patrol rifles for every officer, first to have Tasers for each officer, first to have body cams for each officer.”

He added, “We’ve had a lot of good police officers and staff over the years, and they’ve made me look really good a lot of times. It wasn’t anything to do with me. I’ve been real fortunate.”

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