From Non-Profit Executive to Rookie Cop: Mark Johnson Tells His 'Apprehensions and Convictions'
People in southeast Wisconsin might remember Mark Johnson for his work in the area a couple of decades ago, when he was Executive Director of the United Way of Waukesha County. The Louisiana native left that job to lead a United Way chapter in Southwest Alabama.
But in 2002, he gave up his work in the nonprofit world to become a police officer in the city of Mobile. He became a 50-year old rookie cop. His twelve-year career in law enforcement won him numerous awards.
It also yielded a lot of material for a new book, Apprehensions and Convictions: Adventures of a 50-year-old Rookie Cop, a project Johnson didn't originally intend to be published.
"I realized that I had experienced a lot of things that had changed me, mostly for the better I think. From telling stories to friends people said, 'You know you outta write some of that stuff down,'" he explains. "I did it really with the intention of just writing down my experience if for no one else then my kids and my grandkids." But writers he knew convinced him to work on his story to make it a publishable piece, he realized he wanted to share how his perceptions of police changed as he became a member of the force.
"I had to get rid of some of my misconceptions about the nature of police work and the difficulty of police work, so it was a rude awakening," says Johnson. "I came to it with a sort of a Messiah complex and after a couple of years on the streets I lowered my ambitions to just be a competent cop."