Retiring Sheriff Dennis Johnson Talks Life Lessons Learned from Law Enforcement
CANTON, S.D. – Dennis Johnson is a South Dakota symbol, a sheriff that’s been keeping South Dakota safe for 41 years. Now, he tells KDLT he’ll retire soon.
Many Canton and Lennox residents are still haunted by the name Gary Mulder, the man who killed his ex-wife’s boyfriend in 2005.
Sheriff Johnson recalls getting the phone call that authorities picked up Mulder in Parker.
“When I got to Parker, he was in an interview room and he wouldn’t talk to anybody or cooperate in any way with anybody,” said Johnson.
“Sheriff Johnson walked by that door, he pointed at him and he said, ‘I’m not going to talk to any of you but that’s the only cop I’d ever trust,’” said Tom Wollman, the Lincoln County State’s Attorney.
”And I mean even just hearing a murder suspect say that is kind of encouraging: ‘the only cop I ever trusted,’” said Johnson.
That’s just who Dennis Johnson is – a familiar face who many trust. It’s a reputation he’s earned after working on thousands of cases. While some cases fade away once they’re off his desk, some will stay with Johnson long after retirement.
“I take it home with me,” said Johnson. “I mean, you try not to, but it’s almost impossible not to.”
Impossible not to learn a thing or two about law enforcement and ultimately life after a 41-year career. He has one piece of advice for anyone.
“Treat people with courtesy and respect and for the most part, even if they’re agitated, they’re going to eventually come around,” said Johnson.
”We need to treat all parties with respect and I think that was an important lesson that I learned from him,” said Wollman.
That’s just one lesson that Dennis Johnson will leave behind once he turns in his badge for good.
So far, the 59-year-old grandfather of five doesn’t have any major retirement plans, but he knows he wants to continue his favorite hobby of making salsa with his wife. Johnson plans to retire in January 2019.