Danny Johnson
  • Black History Month: Danny Johnson

  • Feb 28 2024

On July 1, 1979, a swearing-in ceremony for a young police officer was held at Goose Creek City Hall. The ceremony did not take long, but the officer and the City he served would never be the same.

When asked about that day, Danny Johnson can only smile at the nearly half-century that has passed. “It seems like another world,” he said.  

After he was sworn in, Johnson became the City of Goose Creek’s first African American police officer. The opportunity – and the burden – of that distinction was never far from his mind.

“You have to work twice as hard,” he said. “You’re not just representing yourself, you’re representing your whole community. My mom and dad reminded me of that every day.”

His parents’ advice felt familiar to Johnson, who had heard similar messages from them years earlier when he was one of the few Black students at a still recently-integrated Berkeley High School. Those years were not easy, he says, but his parents’ support and expectations for him proved to be successful. 

When he joined the GCPD, Johnson embraced the challenge of his new career. “It requires work, and dedication, and being committed to whatever you want to do,” he said.

In the late 1970s, Goose Creek had not yet emerged as one of the South Carolina’s largest municipalities. “They had just put up a light at 52 and Stephanie Drive,” he said. “That was the only traffic light we had. There were a couple of convenience stores. Where Crowfield is today, was all trees. And when you left Highway 52, it was dark – there were no lights.”

At that time, the GCPD operated out of a small, block building with no squad room. Only one officer at a time patrolled the City … “but on Saturdays, all three of us worked.”

It was a far cry from the law enforcement career the Baptist College graduate had sometimes imagined. “I thought to myself, I spent four years in college for this?” he said with a laugh. “But I stayed.”

As he found his groove at the GCPD, Johnson says the challenges he faced were real – but that he always felt like the residents had his back. “I had a base of support from the community,” he said. “There was no resistance from outside the Department.”

His perseverance and hard work paid off. Johnson, who grew up in Cordesville, retired from the GCPD in 2003 as a Lieutenant. He continued his law enforcement career at the Berkeley Sheriff’s Office, and today he is the Administrative Sergeant and Supervisor, happily dispensing orders, advice and wisdom gained from over four decades in the field. 

Johnson says that today’s younger generation may not fully appreciate the sacrifices made on their behalf, which makes Black History an important topic. 

“It’s a different world today,” he said. “They lack the understanding … but this month helps give them a foundation of who they are and where they came from. Black History is not to point the finger at anyone, but to give the history. Let them know that we blazed a trail so that nobody else had to.”

Danny Johnson is sworn in by Mayor Michael Heitzler in 1979, as Police Chief Solon Lewis looks on

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