Swansea’s new police chief has a familiar face.
Steve Johnson, a former St. Clair County sheriff’s captain, was sworn in Thursday evening as Swansea’s chief.
“Since I was 7 years old, I wanted to be a police leader in the area I grew up in ... It is all I have ever wanted to do. Everything in my career has pointed me to this,” Johnson said.
Johnson holds a master’s degree in computers and personnel management from Webster University and bachelor’s degree in workforce education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Johnson, 46, was a former captain for the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department under Mearl Justus, who died in 2012. Johnson worked as chief investigator and spokesman for the sheriff’s department.
Johnson started with the sheriff’s department when he was 14 years old as an Explorer, worked as a deputy service aid, then became a deputy. During more than two decades with the department, Johnson served as an investigator, administrative assistant to the sheriff, then chief investigator.
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. After Justus’ death, Johnson expressed interest in running for sheriff, but was moved to the Drug Tactical Unit after Rick Watson was appointed sheriff. He retired from the department after 25 years.
In 2014, Johnson went to work for State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly as the special operations coordinator. Johnson wrote applications, coordinated communication between law enforcement and prosecutors, assisted in writing law enforcement policies, located victims and witnesses and assisted with trial preparation and coordinated law enforcement training.
“When Steve joined us we knew it would only be for a short time because his energy and leadership would be in high demand in any number of police departments,” Kelly said. “He’s a good man, plain and simple.”
Johnson replaces Mike Arnold, who served as chief since 2006. Arnold retires with 30 years of service.
Johnson is married and has two daughters.