December 27, 2004 - posted at 10:40 a.m. Cst, updated at 3:44 p.m.
Jonesboro, AR - Jonesboro Police Chief Floyd Johnson has died.
According to Mayor-elect Doug Formon, Johnson apparently died in his sleep Monday morning. His unresponsive body was found in bed by his wife at approximately 8 a.m. at his Jonesboro home on Harrisburg Road. Craighead County Coroner Toby Emerson said Johnson died at approximately 7 a.m., although the cause of death has not yet been released. He was 69.
Floyd Johnson held many titles in his lifetime; son, husband, father, sheriff, police chief, but he's being remembered not for his titles, rather as a man devoted to public service for over 40 years.
"I've talked to people in the community, either on the phone or in person before, and it always struck me that a lot of them didn't refer to him as chief or as sheriff, they called him by his first name so they felt like he was a friend," said Detective Lynn Waterworth.
Johnson's career began in 1967, when he was elected Craighead County Sheriff. Then they used to call him the "Boy Sheriff." Johnson served for 22 years, longer than anyone else in Craighead County's history. He was instrumental in establishing the Boys and Girls Ranch in Batesville; a home for troubled youth that's still in operation today.
"A lot of people didn't realize that Floyd was a great judge of people," said Jonesboro Mayor Hubert Brodell. "He could size people up in 60 to 90 seconds as good as anybody I ever saw in my life."
"Earlier this morning obviously we got a call from our dispatch center, because his wife had called for an ambulance, but I mean everyone is in total shock and disbelief," said Waterworth.
"He and I just last week had a really good conversation and sat down and talked about the budget, and he was in really good spirits, laughing and carrying on, so it's a shock to all of us," said Jonesboro Mayor-elect Doug Formon.
Johnson was appointed Police Chief of Jonesboro in 1993. Later in 1998, he became the city's Director of Public Safety, in charge of the police and fire departments.
"He was a sincere, honest, dedicated employee," said Brodell.
Johnson's 40 year career was marked by a brief suspension last year for allegedly having used racial slurs. He was asked by Mayor Brodell to stay until the end of his term. That service was cut short by just 4 days.
"Last Thursday he and I had a long conversation about different things and my final days in office and the years we spent together and when I got out of his car he said, 'Mayor, once a friend always a friend,' and he stuck his hand out and we shook hands," said Brodell.
On a personal note, Floyd Johnson was a very active horseman. He owned Johnson Rodeo Company and is respected throughout the Arkansas rodeo community.