PILOT MOUNTAIN — After 36 years of service, Captain Jeff Johnson of the Pilot Mountain Police Department is retiring from the force. He was honored with a luncheon on Dec. 30.
“We’re here today to congratulate you on all the years of service that you gave us,” said Chief Darryl Bottoms.
A Mount Airy native, Johnson began his career with the Surry County Sheriff’s Department in 1979. Transferring to Pilot Mountain in 1980, Johnson recalled that the department at that time was different in many ways.
“The oldest fellow was our chief; he was 29,” said Johnson, noting that there were fewer positions and more openings. With the level of turnover, the whole department switched in just a few years.
Johnson has been constant, staying with the department through six different chiefs and ten different town managers. “They each had their own personality,” said Johnson, explaining that his job has always held the same core of maintaining public safety.
The biggest change in the department, according to Johnson, is technology. “There was not a single computer when I started,” he said, adding that there are now computers in every office. Along with computers, the amount of time spent on behind-the-scenes documentation has increased more than Johnson feels the public realizes.
Promoted to lieutenant before earning the title of captain, Johnson said, “in a small town you can’t take rank too serious; we all work as a team.”
“Pilot Mountain is a nice place to work. I can’t put into words how grateful I am for what the town has done for me over the years,” said Johnson.
Johnson has no specific plans for his next chapter in life. “I’ll just take it day by day,” he said, adding that he may spend more time on his bicycle, and will probably still work for the department part time to help with special events like Mayfest and the cruise-ins.
As for the next captain, Johnson said he did not know who it would be. He shared no advice, saying, “he’ll figure it out.”
Johnson was presented with a plaque and several gifts. Bottoms thanked Johnson for his work and friendship, while assuring Johnson, “we won’t forget you.”
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.