For a lot of police officers, Christmas Day is like most other days: they put on the uniform and go to work. In Arlington, the highest ranking officer goes back to patrol.
“I enjoy being a cop. I enjoy policing,” said Arlington Police Chief Will D. Johnson.
Continuing a five year tradition, Chief Johnson volunteered to work B and C shift in order to give two scheduled officers Christmas off.
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“Typically in policing, this is the time period the least senior employees work because it’s the hardest on families,” said Johnson.
Johnson said he clocked in around 1 p.m. on Christmas Day and plans to leave around midnight.
The chief picks the officers in a contest announced every fall. In past years, he challenged officers to come up with a jingle or held creative caption contest. This year, he asked officers to write an essay on what they’ve accomplished to make Arlington better.
Johnson says his wife and two teenage daughters review the entries and help pick the winner. He didn’t recall how many officers entered the contest this year, but said one of the winners paid it forward.
Officer Robert Phillips wrote an essay about mentoring a young man who was caught crashing a stolen car, but asked if he could give his day off to another shift-mate who recently welcomed a new baby into his family.
“Ironically, that was the first runner up in the contest so I said yeah that would be fine,” said Johnson.
Johnson says his Christmas gesture is meant to serve as a gift from his family to officers and their families.
“I think sometimes the forgotten point is they have an entire family support system,” said Johnson. “The family sacrifices for the officer to be able to serve is really why people say policing is a family because it takes both those at work and those at home for us to be successful.”