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BCSO's Johnson - 'protect & serve is not just a motto'

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

The Bandera County Sheriff's Office has a new community public relations officer. Deputy Matt Johnson will replace Deputy Scott MacNaughton, who has served in that capacity since July 2011, Chief Deputy Richard Smith announced recently.

MacNaughton, who is returning to school to pursue a master's degree in public administration, will continue to work as reserve deputy for the sheriff's department. He will also remain involved with the local Explorer Academy, sponsored by the BCSO. Giving a full measure of praise to his colleague, Johnson said, "Scott's defined this position and I hope I can do as good a job as he's done. He is an asset to the department."

A graduate of Ingram High School, Johnson and began his law enforcement career at the Bandera County Jail in 1999. After obtaining his peace officer certification, he worked with the BCSO from 2002 through 2006 as a narcotics officer.

"I left when the former administration took over and returned on Oct. 17, 2011, under a new administration," he said. In the interim, he served as a narcotics officer with the Kerr County Sheriff's Office and, while working on his college degree, as a campus police officer at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

"When I heard (Chief Deputy) Richard (Smith) and (Capt.) Charlie (Hicks) were taking over the department, I really wanted to come back to Bandera," Johnson said.

He and his wife live in Kerrville. He is the brother of Sgt. Gerald "Jerry" Johnson.

Matt Johnson plans to continue MacNaughton's community-oriented policing, designed to identify specific community needs and address the problems on a neighborhood level.

Duties of the community public relations officer include pinpointing problematic trends coming from specific neighborhoods and areas, such as speeding and criminal mischief, among other illegal activities.

Attending meeting of subdivision homeowners' associations and addressing residents' concerns will remain an integral part of Johnson's duties.

Getting out of the chute as quickly as possible, Johnson recently announced the department's first Sheriff's Citizen Academy. Sponsored by the BCSO, the academy will be held from 6 pm until 9 pm, on Wednesdays, beginning April 11 and continuing through May 30.

The academy will offer Bandera County residents a "unique and educational opportunity to learn about the operation of the sheriff's office and how day-to-day operations are handled." Participants will take part in hands-on activities and training that cover the multi-faceted aspects of law enforcement.

"Our goal is to let the community see what we do as law enforcement officers," Johnson said. "We want to have DPS officers, the DA and game wardens involved as we offer an overview of law enforcement throughout the county."

Applicants must be 18 years or older, reside in Bandera County and possess a clear criminal history. All applicants will undergo a background investigation, including a criminal history check, employment history and personal references.

Applications for the Sheriff's Citizen Academy are available at the BCSO, 3360 Highway 173 North. For the spring session, applications must be turned in by 5 pm, Friday, March 30, in person. This session will be limited to 20 participants; however, overflow applicants will be given slots in the spring 2013 academy.

Excited about his new appointment centering on community-oriented duties, as well as with the BCSO Citizen Academy, Johnson said in an interview, "I consider this a new beginning that will allow me to build bridges with the community that were burned by the past administration.

This is very important to everyone at the sheriff's office."

Pleased that Johnson will be on the job, Smith said, "With his years of experience in all facets of law enforcement, Matt will be able to take this program to the next level."

Johnson continued, "The words 'Protect and Serve' on our patrol vehicles are not a motto. Those words are the department's mission statement."

Pictured: Bandera County Sheriff's Office Deputy Matt Johnson has been appointed as the department's community public relations officer. He is also in charge of the recently announced inaugural Sheriff's Citizen Academy.