By Paul “Earthqake” Moore
One of Philadelphia’s favorite police officers and community servants has died.
Retired Deputy Police Commissioner Stephen T. Johnson passed away on New Year’s Day after a year-long battle with prostate cancer. He was 63.
Johnson spent 35 storied years with the Philadelphia Police Department during which time he left his mark on the communities he served, dressing as Santa Claus and giving away toys to needy children at Christmas, participating in the annual Paul “Earthquake” Moore’s Turkey Run, and winning the city’s top award (Fencil Award) for police officers in the process.
Deputy Commissioner Johnson seemed to have a difficult time saying no to those in need. Not only did he appear at community events, he also reminded people to invite him.
In 2011, he hosted a party for underprivileged children at the 48th and Woodland Playground in Southwest Philadelphia.
Johnson, dressed as Santa, spent time with each child, and passed out toys to all the children who attended.
Johnson also supported the efforts of Moore, a community activist and radio host here. He would provide police escorts for Moore’s annual Turkey Run down South Broad Street and later down Woodland Avenue, to feed families at Thanksgiving, and his Easter Motorcycle Run for Peace.
Having once served as a sergeant in Southwest Philadelphia’s 12th Police District, (64th & Woodland Ave.)
Johnson also attended Moore’s King Day basketball games, “Playing for the King.”
For his efforts to help the community in 1992 while a lieutenant and commanding officer in the Police Conflict-Prevention and Resolution Unit, Johnson won the prestigious George Fencl Award, given to a Philadelphia police officer who exemplifies compassion, fairness and civic commitment.
The son and father of Philadelphia Police officers, Johnson, who grew up in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood, joined the department in 1977.
His late father, James Johnson, spent 23 years in the department, and his son, Stephen T. Johnson Jr., is a lieutenant in the Southwest Division.
During his ride to the top, Johnson supervised the city’s South Division as an inspector, oversaw the Community Affairs Division and commanded the department’s Southwest Division.
In 2008, he was named Deputy Commissioner for Homeland Security and Domestic Preparedness, before being transferred to oversee internal affairs in 2010.
Johnson retired from the Philadelphia Police Department in 2012 to assume the job of chief of police in Coatesville, PA. Following his Coatesville swearing in, in December 2012, he was diagnosed and began treatments for prostate cancer, preventing him from fulfilling his duties.
Services for Johnson were held Friday, January 9th at St. Cyprian.