By STEVEN FOWLER
From an early age, Tucson native Anthony Johnson dreamt of becoming the chief inspector for the Metropolitan Police Service in London, England.
“I want to become the chief inspector because it will allow me to put my specialized skills to use,” he said. “London is the business center of the world. This means that there are more cyber-crimes there compared to Tucson.”
Johnson discovered his passion for working with others in the summer following eighth grade when he had a “life-changing experience” while visiting New Scotland Yard in Westminster, United Kingdom.
Interested in what he learned regarding the police headquarters, Johnson began researching information about the police force, where he interviewed a member of the Royal Protection Unit.
“The metro police are one of the few municipal police forces that have a dedicated general cyber unit,” he added. “That combined with being in one of the most diverse cities in the world is why I want to work there.”
Johnson knew what he needed to do to accomplish his goal. That summer, he took the first step by volunteering for the Oro Valley Community Recourse Unit.
“When I first began volunteering, there were mixed emotions,” he said. “On one hand, I was very excited but on the other hand, I was not sure what I was getting into. Gradually, I was able to connect with fellow officers who shared past experiences working in the community.”
In a high school computer-science class, Johnson learned how to create and disassemble websites, and the basics for hacking. He believed that these skills would play a pivotal role for him as an officer.
“I trained with Pima Regional SWAT, I learned how to clear buildings, conduct high-risk traffic stops and working at special events around town such as football games and other specialized events,” he said.
Johnson continued doing this until his junior year at Canyon Del Oro High School in 2012.
Growing tired of participating in the same tasks day in and day out, Johnson was in need of a change. He filled out an application for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, hoping to get a different perspective of what law enforcement was about.
Under state law, the required age for becoming an officer is 21 years old.
Due to Johnson’s age at the time and the need to provide a high school diploma, he was unable to become an officer. After graduating from high school in 2013, he applied for a volunteer position.
Johnson was accepted into the program and served in various roles, from working on websites to assisting people who walk in or call the station.
“The Volunteer Unit at the Pima County Sheriff’s Department lets you do anything that you do not need a post-certification for,” Johnson said. “This can range from administrative work to conducting code 9’s. We also help with search and rescue for people in dire need.”
Keith Cook is a life-long friend of Johnson’s.
“He is a man who knows the law,” Cook said. “He also knows that he will hold a privileged position in our society, and yet he is not one to wave that position around like a sword.”
One of his favorite experiences, Johnson said, was a recent ride-along. He and a police officer patrolled streets across the city throughout the night.
During the ride, he watched as the officer ticketed speeding cars and helped out an older woman in need.
“The ride-along tested my mentality,” Johnson said. “If my experience had gone sour, I would have second-guessed becoming an officer.”
Currently a sophomore at Pima Community College, Johnson is ahead of schedule to transfer to a university by 2016.
As soon as Johnson turns 21, he plans on joining the Oro Valley Police Department as a patrol officer.
Johnson will continue pursuing his education at the University of Arizona after he becomes a police officer.
At UA, his goal is to double major in law enforcement and computer science. By continuing his education, it will become easier to obtain a work visa with the necessary skills when he moves out of the country.
After Johnson earns his law enforcement degree, he plans on starting a new life in England.
“To be able to become a chief inspector for the Metropolitan Police Station, I need to have lived in England for at least five years,” he said. “I figure that once I move there, I will use my knowledge in computer science to help me find a high-paying job.
“When the five years are over, I will be ready to obtain my citizenship and soon after become an officer,” he added. “I am very excited about what the future holds.”