"The same will be the case when I become a minister," she said. "I may become a pastor, but I believe God will lead me to be an evangelist or serve in some role in an outreach program that touches people all over the world. I want to continue to be on the streets but working full-time for the Lord."
Calling followed her mother's orders
Johnson's call to serve the Lord came a decade or so ago. It followed another call she'd heard since she was a little girl. It was her mother's call to go to church - every time the doors were open.
"Church was never an option in our home," said Johnson with a smile and a shake of her head. "We had to go."
The home was in Bate-Wood, a Housing Authority of Danville apartment complex, and the head of the house was Mary Frances Woods, nicknamed the "mayor of Bate-Wood" for her many years of helping neighbors, especially children, and serving as a voice for her neighborhood. And the church was First Baptist, Second and Walnut streets.
"I was so lucky to have been adopted by (Woods) and her husband, Harold," said Johnson. "My (adoptive) dad died when I was 5 (years old), so that left (Woods) as head of the household, and that included me and my brothers and sisters, William Jones, Shawn Woods, Wanda Burgess and Emily Meaux, all of Danville.
"Mom took wonderful care of us, and she also was a foster mother to many other kids," she said. "She was loving and caring but she also was firm - firm in her rules and, above all, firm in her faith."
Turning grief to productivity
Woods died in 2002, and Johnson still misses her "profoundly and deeply." But Johnson has tried to turn her grief into something productive. Woods was an inspiration to her daughter when she was alive; in death, she is serving as a motivation behind Johnson's efforts to become a minister.
But while Johnson's focus now is squarely on serving the Lord, her first career goal was to serve the public as a police officer. After graduating from Danville High School in 1988, Johnson worked a few different jobs, then she enrolled at Northern Kentucky University where she earned an associate degree in law enforcement.
A decade ago, Johnson was hired by the Danville Police Department as an officer. In the meantime, she has spent much of her spare time earning credits at Eastern Kentucky University toward a bachelor's degree in police administration. She received the degree on Dec. 17.
While she is proud of the degree and believes it has helped her develop her administrative skills, Johnson does not want to spend whatever is left of her career in law enforcement in an office, at least not full-time. She wants at least part of her policing career to continue to be on those streets where she sees herself not as a jaded or judgmental cop but as a caring and understanding officer
"People make mistakes, and sometimes they are very serious mistakes that hurt people," she said. "But I don't judge the whole person based only on the mistakes they make. People have good and bad parts of their characters. Just because a person has messed up, that doesn't mean they're all bad. There's always some good in every person. "And there are a lot of circumstances that bring out the bad in people, like living in poverty or coming from a broken home or being kids in trouble with drugs. These are all situations that I take into account when dealing with some of the people I encounter on the streets in the course of doing my job."
While she tries to see the good in criminals and tries to understand the underlying cause of their lawbreaking, Johnson does not give them a pass. "When an arrest is required, I make the arrest," she said. "I do my job."
Job offers witness opportunities
But in the course of doing her job, Johnson said she also may find the opportunity to "witness" to alleged offenders.