Former lead detective to begin new job with county prosecutors

News-DemocratJanuary 20, 2014 

Steve Johnson.

ZIA NIZAMI — Zia Nizami/BND

Former St. Clair County Sheriff's Department Capt. Steve Johnson has a new job. This time he's working with prosecutors.

He assumed the job of special operations coordinator with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office at the beginning of this year.

Johnson became known to the public through his role as spokesman for the Sheriff's Department and head of detectives under former Sheriff Mearl Justus. Johnson headed the investigation into former Freeburg High School teacher Samson Shelton, who is in prison for the attempted murder of then-teenager Ashley Reeves.

"Steve did a great job for Sheriff Justus and for Sheriff (Rick) Watson and he's going to do a great job for us, improving the quality of law enforcement for the citizens of St. Clair County," said State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.

Johnson, 45, retired from the Sheriff's Department on Dec. 31 after 24 years. He began his service with the department when he was 14 years old as an explorer, worked as a deputy service aide, then became a deputy. During his more than two decades at the department, Johnson served as an investigator, administrative assistant to the sheriff, then chief investigator. Johnson, who at one time expressed interest in running for sheriff, was moved to the Drug Tactical Unit after Watson was appointed sheriff.

Johnson said he decided to retire after Kelly made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

"How do you say no to working with a great bunch of professions that I have looked up to my entire career?" Johnson said.

The newly created position pays $70,000 a year, Kelly said.

As part of his job description, Johnson will:

* Participate in grant writing and increasing technology in the grant writing process.

* Coordinate communication between law enforcement and the state's attorney's office.

* Assist in writing law enforcement policies and procedures.

* Locate victims, witnesses and assist with trial preparation when prosecutors prepare for trials.

* Develop countywide knowledge of asset forfeiture procedures.

* Assist local law enforcement in increasing DUI and traffic enforcement.

* Develop comprehensive probation and parolee compliance checks.

* Coordinate law enforcement training.

* Develop a social media site.

Johnson will assume many of the duties of former deputy chief of investigations, Jose Alvarez. Alvarez became Caseyville's police chief in September.

"When I think back about my career, I think about the people I work with, very dedicated people who take their oath very seriously," Johnson said. "These deputies and state's attorney's who are committed to the victims and getting justice."

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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