It’s been more than four years since Johnny Holtzclaw wore a badge or carried a gun.
The Dawson County native and veteran law enforcement officer traded in his badge in 2003 to enter the political arena in a successful run for the county’s Chief Magistrate judgeship.
Earlier this year, after much soul searching and a “whole lot of prayer,” Holtzclaw announced he would not seek a second term as chief magistrate and would instead return to his roots in law enforcement.
Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle will swear Holtzclaw in as a sergeant on Friday to supervise the county’s school resource officer program.
“I’m so humbled that Sheriff Carlisle is allowing me to come back and start back almost right where I left off four years ago,” said Holtzclaw, who joined the sheriff’s office in 1993, soon after graduating from Dawson County High School.
During his decade with the sheriff’s office, Holtzclaw rose through the chain of command, taking on responsibilities from dispatch, to patrol sergeant, to investigator, school resource officer supervisor and ending his service as the department’s first public information officer.
“I’m glad to have him back,” said Carlisle, who was the county’s first school resource officer and worked to develop the program throughout the county’s schools. “Those school resource positions are really important to the county and to our department.”
Many times the only contact youth have with law enforcement officers is negative, Carlisle said. “At school, they see the softer side of the officers, the side that’s there for them,” he said. “Johnny gets along with the kids great, and all the parents know him, because he grew up here.”
Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten, who has supervised the resource officer program the last several years, said he is comfortable leaving the program in Holtzclaw’s experienced and capable hands.
“He’s a huge asset to our department,” said Wooten, who was promoted to lieutenant earlier this year and now oversees the civil, warrant and court division, as well as acts as the sheriff’s official spokesperson and community policing liaison.
“Having Johnny here gives me a better opportunity to focus on our proactive involvement in the community, whether it’s dealing with the media or organizing our community programs, like the citizens law enforcement academy, which starts again in spring,” he said.
With the students’ safety as the main concern, “having a full-time resource officer supervisor at the schools is why we’re so thankful to have Johnny back,” Wooten added.
Holtzclaw said he looks forward to the move back to law enforcement. “It allows me to be the public servant that I am,” he said.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.