GAYLORD — Captain Jennifer Johnson is eager to begin her duties as the new Michigan State Police Seventh District Commander.
The seventh district covers a sprawling region of the northern Lower Peninsula. In addition to the headquarters in Gaylord, the district also includes state police (MSP) posts in Alpena, Cadillac, Gaylord, and Houghton Lake.
Johnson said it will be a challenge to stay connected with not only her colleagues but local law enforcement as well.
“There will be a lot of windshield time,” Johnson said, alluding to traveling in the district. “I will be learning about the district, getting out to the work sites and meeting local partners. I think that is really important in a rural area that we are maximizing all resources by working with our local partners.”
Johnson grew up in Allen Park in suburban Detroit before attending Michigan State University. Johnson said she had always wanted to be in public service.
“When I went to MSU and saw their criminal justice program is when I figured out I wanted to do something in the criminal justice realm,” she said.
Johnson considered a career in probation/parole work but a summer internship in juvenile probation didn’t pan out to her liking.
“Then I had heard the state police were hiring and I applied. The next thing I knew I was in recruit school,” Johnson said.
Her ascension to district commander is another sign of the importance the MSP is placing on a diverse work force. Johnson said she is glad to be a part of the movement to chip away at the so-called glass ceiling — an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minorities.
More: Law enforcement makes a slow turn to women to help fill ranks
“I have worked hard my entire career and been willing to move around and take on different assignments. I believe I have been treated fairly by the state police. I have worked just as hard as the guys,” she said.
“I believe it is a privilege to be in law enforcement as a female and I wanted to be an example of a hard working female trooper. The biggest satisfaction of my promotion is being an example to the younger generation of female troopers,” added Johnson .
She believes that many women have good communication skills, which are important for law enforcement officers.
“A lot of law enforcement involves talking to people and I think females sometimes have an easier job of communicating with people,” she said.
Johnson is the mother of three children — two sons and a daughter. She is an active runner and serves on the board of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises funds for the Special Olympics.
This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: New state police commander aims to stay connected in seventh district