Celebrating the people and projects of TU's Division of Administration and Finance

Q&A with the TUPD’s new Captain

Karen Johnson became Captain of the TUPD this March, a position in which she oversees 14 people in the department’s Communications, Information Support Services and Community Outreach units. Below, Johnson shares some information about herself, including her radio career and the funniest arrest she’s ever made.

Karen Johnson in the new OPS building

TUPD Captain Karen Johnson 

What did you do before joining the TUPD?

I served 25 years with the Baltimore County Police Department. My last position was as a Major where I commanded the Technical Services Division.

How is working for TU different from working for BCPD?
TUPD is a smaller agency covering much less territory—so many things are different. One difference is that because we are a smaller agency, officers here often perform multiple duties and have expertise in a variety of areas.  We are able to devote a lot of effort toward crime prevention throughout the campus. Another advantage to working in an agency of this size is that as a Commander, you can still be closely involved in the day to day operations and events that occur on campus.

My favorite part about working on a college campus is…
Everyone has been very welcoming. Also, as someone embarking on her second career, I look forward to working with young people who are just starting to shape their careers and figure out the course their futures will take.

Strangest work experience:

Well, one of the funniest was catching a guy who’d just robbed a bank. A red dye pack exploded inside the green jacket he was wearing, yet he swore he had nothing to do with it!

Do you watch any cop or detective shows or movies? Are they accurate?
Ha ha, I do watch some of those shows, and no, they are almost never accurate. Police work is generally much more mundane than those shows represent. On television, police officers are always shooting or being shot at. The truth is that, fortunately, most police officers will go an entire career without ever discharging their firearm.

Another falsehood is the speed with which cases are solved. Television generally has one hour to tell the story, but in reality solving cases takes much more time. DNA results, for example, take weeks or months to get, not minutes. The amount of police corruption and brutality is also very exaggerated in film and television.

What was your dream job as a kid?
I wanted to be a radio DJ. I think just because I was such a fan of music that I thought it was something I would enjoy doing. I worked at the radio station where I went to college for undergrad (IUP) for a couple of semesters. As I was exposed to other career options, I just drifted away from that one.

When I’m not at work, you can find me….
Boating, golfing, or playing with my two golden retrievers.

By Tyler New

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