Lieutenant Michael Johnston ’08

As he roamed the halls of Rich East High School, Lieutenant Michael Johnston ’08 always looked up to the police officers assigned to protect everyone inside. Inspired by the amount of respect they received, he found himself eager to learn more about their field of work. He began as a member of the Illinois National Guard in Charlie Company 2nd of the 129th Infantry Division based out of Kankakee - where he realized he was ready to set forth on his journey. 

In 1996, Michael began his career with the Bradley Police Department as a Patrol Officer. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2003, and then assumed his current role as Lieutenant in 2007. Michael reflects on when he was first hired in 1996, and former Chief of Police Donald Kufner asked him where he saw himself in the future.

“I had set a very specific goal for myself,” said Michael. “I told the chief of police that I wanted to sit in his chair one day.”

A dedicated part of the Bradley Police Department for nearly 19 years, Lieutenant Michael Johnston achieved that goal and has recently been promoted to chief of police. In this role, he will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the entire department.

“The Bradley Police Department has great relationships, both externally and internally,” says Michael. “As chief, I wish to build upon those relationships and make them stronger. I am going to work hard to reach out to the surrounding communities; we may be separate towns, departments, and people but we can all benefit from working together as one.”

In his new role, Michael really wants to focus on bringing a new level of diversity into the Bradley Police Department. “I am seeing much more diversity in our town and the surrounding areas,” adds Michael. “I think our department should act as a mirror to the community by employing a diverse group of individuals.”

Recently, Michael graduated from the 263rd session of the FBI National Academy - a professional development program for State, County, Local and international law enforcement. “It was a great opportunity to network with some amazing professionals,” says Michael. “I gained a lot of helpful information from my coursework. More importantly, I feel like I gained hundreds of new friends that I can depend on and learn from.”

Previously, he attended Prairie State College where he received an associate’s degree and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Governors State University.

Michael’s mother instilled her unique work ethic in him as she continuously encouraged him to go back for his master’s degree to help provide for his wife, Elley, and their five children. Although he is happy that his mother was here to see him obtain his Master of Arts in Public Safety Administration from Lewis University, he wishes his late mother could have been here to see him finally accomplish his goal of becoming chief.

“Lewis provided me with the degree that was required of me to become chief of police,” Michael says with a smile. “The university also provided me with a flexible class schedule. That was the main reason that I was able to finally achieve my goal; Lewis made it so convenient for me to get my master’s degree.”

Michael advises students to stay focused on their degree, get involved, and take advantage of any opportunity that comes their way. Don’t wait for anything or anyone!

July 2016

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