by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Chief Johnson Shakes Up Huntington Druggies in a Style Reminiscent of John Wayne

When former Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook announced in March  that he had accepted an offer to become the new chief of Columbia,  South Carolina, encouragement on his “replacement” became highly touted i.e. the vigorous enforcement of drug laws would continue.

Still, after he departed, statistics showed  heroin spiking in 2013 and a resurgence of crack  and other drugs throughout every Huntington neighborhood.

Facing these challenges, a firm, selfless interim leader has risen from his Constituent Services position in the Mayor’s office to a white-hatted, strong willed “John Wayne” persona vowing to send the Detroit drug dealers back to Michigan.

Under the low key secrecy of an executive session, Police Chief “Jimmy” Johnson rallied the HPD force, allied agencies, the administration and council on a tactical and strategic war on drugs. Following an executive session in late July, Huntington council voted to hire ten police officers and a civilian.

Less than two weeks later, a warrant round-up began with prayers from council and prayers from officers.

On Thursday, Chief Johnson in his patented low-key style, reported, “We have thirty arrested” of the approximately 65 warrants. He added, it is unknown how many of those still “wanted” fled the city. In one instance, “the population of Huntington dropped by one, and the population of Detroit increased by one,” as an individual minus about $20,000 in drug sales funds was shipped by bus back to Michigan. reported individuals moving out under the cover of darkness. Landlords informed police that numerous  rental properties had been abandoned.

Johnson reported to council that the arrest number increased by two Thursday, Aug. 7. Robert Walker, 54, and Sharon Elkins, 49, were charged in connection with a meth lab operation in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue.

The roundup has been called “Operation River to Jail.”

Revealing his promises from a strategic “executive session” that included additional law enforcement entities, Johnson told council, “You all need to give yourselves a high five. There’s something special happening. I’ve never seen police officers more excited.”  As an illustration of their dedication, “We had guys going through garbage cans to get information for search warrants,” he said.

Stressing his “immediate, intense, and relentless” dedication of the operation, Johnson stated, “It’s not over. You’ll see things in the next 30 days we have not done before.”

Mayor Steve Williams told HNN, “There is no pretense to Jim Johnson. He loves Huntington. He loves the Huntington Police Department. He breathes, sleeps, eats, and walks to serve the neighbors in his community. Chief Johnson is passionate about cleaning up the streets of Huntington. He takes it personally that these drug dealers think they can disrupt our neighborhoods. Chief Johnson will not rest until every drug dealer is run out of town or put in jail.”

Incidentally, high fives to all the “Lone Rangers” participating in the warrant round-up.